By Tom Dare
INCREDIBLE CLIPS from what is thought to be the first ever video recording of Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ have remerged this week, over a century after the film was first made.
Footage from the 1901 rendition of ‘Scrooge’, or ‘Marley’s Ghost’ shows some of the classic scenes from a Christmas Carol that we know and love, such as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge being scared stiff by the face of dead business partner Jacob Marley on his front door.
Other scenes from the adaptation show beloved character Tiny Tim at home with the Cratchit family on Christmas Day, while another scene sees the reformed Scrooge discovering his own tombstone at the end of the film. Unfortunately for movie buffs this is the last scene from the recovered footage, though, with the film’s final scene sadly being lost.
The film generally sticks to the book in terms of its interpretation, but differs in that Scrooge is visited by Jacob Marley instead of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future over the course of Christmas Eve.
In the classic version of the tale the visits cause Scrooge to change his ways, allowing him to enjoy his Christmas Day with family and friends. And, although the end scene has been lost, documentation shows that the 1901 version of the film stayed true to the book in this sense.
Many of the special effects used in the film were very advanced for the time, with producer Robert W. Paul known for his visual trickery and director Walter R. Booth actually credited as a well-known magician from the early 1900s. The scene where Marley’s face is superimposed onto the door was particularly impressive for the time, as was a scene which showed Scrooge his childhood on a curtain.
Since its initial airing on the big screen, A Christmas Carol has been remade over twenty times as both a movie and a TV show. Some of the most famous adaptations are 1992’s the Muppets Christmas Carol, featuring Michael Caine, and 1970’s Scrooge, starring Albert Finney and Alec Guinness.