When I was a little girl silent movies freaked me out. The makeup, the jerkiness of the filming (which is corrected if they are screened at the right speed), the overacting, etc. In 1980 something I watched a series on PBS narrated by James Mason about silent movies. It helped me appreciate the form more. And I also have to appreciate what a huge leap film must have been during the silent era. Light and shadows, and live music. Magic.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL from 1923 starred Russell Thorndike, Nina Vanna, Jack Denton, and Forbes Dawson. It is short, with limited exposition (aka title cards). I do wonder if there was an expected familiarity with the story so that the audiences were going to see the film to see what they did with it. And the ghosts were semi transparent. And while all four ghosts visit, there isn’t any of the depth of the story. The Past only shows Belle’s goodbye scene.

The Present says that he will be spending the day at Scrooge’s nephew and clerk and all who love Christmas. Scrooge begs him to stay, but he says no. Then Scrooge says he is not the man he was. So is the transformation because he didn’t want to miss a good time? When Scrooge goes to leave and the Ghost of Christmas Future comes in and beckons Scrooge forward where he ends up on his own grave.

Missing is the Tiny Tim story line, the Fezziwig past, etc. But again, I wonder if it was more about showing the film and less about tell the familiar story. Tomorrow I will report on another silent version I watched, which made different choices in its adaptation.

What do you think? Let me know?

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