Few stories tell the redemption arc quite like Charles’ Dickens A Christmas Carol. In the midst of Grinches and White Christmases and Peanuts and 34th Streets and Bishops Wives, my family always pulled out four different versions of A Christmas Carol to watch every Christmas: one with Mickey Mouse, one with Mister Magoo, one with the Muppets, and one with George C. Scott. In more recent years, Bo introduced me to the Blackadder Christmas Carol as well as Scrooged starring Bill Murray.
This year, as Michael Caine follows the Ghost of Christmas Present once more to one of my favorite scenes–
(If you ever wondered what my sons are like at home, those bellboys at the song’s beginning sum it up pretty well.)
–a thought occurred to me, one that has pricked the back of my mind every year I see this:
Why is Scrooge dancing with the Ghost?
I mean, you can see it at the song’s end: Scrooge is all happy and cheery and dancing like a giant Muppet himself.
Doesn’t he still have another Ghost to talk to? If he’s already all happy and stuff, why’s he need to see another ghost? He’s already reformed. If you’re going to make a character go through three different stages towards redemption, then don’t you the storyteller need the different stages actually necessary? What’s the point of having these different stages if an internal switch simply flitches the protagonist’s changed with little effort?
This year, that niggling thought led to a talk with Bo, and the idea to watch a few more adaptations of this story and discuss whether they transform Scrooge, or merely flip his switch.
Here’s what we’ve found. Thanks for listening!