I have blogged before about Patrick Stewart’s brilliant CHRISTMAS CAROL on stage, and the wonderful CD of his reading. In 1999 he played Scrooge in a full version on TNT. So in love with the stage version was I that I gave this version more than a passing grade, but I did not give it its due. This Christmas Carol challenge has given me a lot to think about. And I decided to end the challenge with this version. Because it is, in my estimation, practically perfect. (I don’t like the eyes of the Ghost of Christmas Future. They take away from the rest of him. That’s my only quibble with this version.)
I suspect that it excels for a number of reasons. This version is so faithful to Dickens, with all of the prerequisites I mentioned before in place. The cast is fabulous, and the production values are outstanding. You have a sense of the place and time–cold, dirty, difficult living in Victorian England.
And then there is Patrick Stewart. What an actor. He knows this role, and carries the subtext in his bones. The tragic look on his face as he watches his younger self lose Belle, knowing the consequences. And his pleading to “go after her” and “speak, why doesn’t he speak?” His fondness for Fezziwig, and appreciation for the lessons he offered, but Scrooge didn’t learn. The slow transformation of Scrooge that is visible throughout the show. I realize that filming makes this subtlety difficult, but Mr. Stewart does such a great job. I love that his transformation is because of the whole experience, and not just the fear of being dead and left alone. And I also love that his Scrooge isn’t over the top. He is a very normal man who has chosen the wrong path. George C. Scott had a similar portrayal in this way–he is not a caricature, but is rather a recognizable man. Which makes him more recognizable, and more scary.
If you ever have the opportunity to see Mr. Stewart do his CHRISTMAS CAROL on stage, run, do not walk. (If you ever have a chance to see him do any part on stage, do not hesitate. He is an amazing actor.) But don’t neglect this wonderful version of my favorite story.