Movies I’m looking forward to: “A Christmas Carol.”

I realize that for a lot of people it’s a tad bit early to be talking about the upcoming Krismas season, but the first wisps of crisp autumn air in September always get my mind thinking along those lines so you’ll have to bear with me. Of course this year has been pretty damn cool all year long so you should probably be thankful I’m only just now starting to think about it. Oddly enough, for someone who considers himself quite the skeptic, one of my favorite seasonal stories is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ve read the book many times over the years and I often watch the various productions put to film with my favorite probably being the one starring George C. Scott back in 1999.

Now Robert Zemeckis is going to give it a shot with yet another motion captured computer generated 3D animated version of the film (which seems to be the only kind of film he makes anymore) starring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth. And it looks like it just might be a new favorite. Check it:

I was disappointed with Zemeckis’ adaptation of The Polar Express mostly because the story required quite a bit of stretching to turn it from the wonderfully illustrated children’s book (which I own) into a feature film, but also because the computer animation fell victim to the uncanny valley effect. The motion capture was wonderful, but the eyes seemed dead and zombie-like. One of the ways to avoid the uncanny valley is to go for a more stylized look which is what they appear to have done for A Christmas Carol. So far it’s looking pretty good and will probably be a must-see for me this year.


4 thoughts on “Movies I’m looking forward to: “A Christmas Carol.”

  1. I Love Christmas !

    And that was a good clip smile

    I watch the same shows year after year. And my favorite one is ” It Happened One Christmas ” It was a re-do of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

    Marlo Thomas was in the new one. And they don’t show it anymore because of the assholes who write and prosecute copyright laws. Somebody always looking for a chance to fuck up The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. To those people I say FUCK YOU ! I have two copies of the film when it was showing on HBO decades ago on VHS.

    Merry Christmas Everyone !

  2. my favorite version is Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.

    I’m thinking we have it on vhs, so might get a chance to watch soon

    Also own the book The Polar Express, but thought the animated version is a bit longer than needed because it is showing off the technical parts, as in “a computer is cool to produce stuff”

  3. I might have to check it out.  A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories, probably my only favorite Christmas story.  It never really set off my annoyance buzzer as a skeptic and non-believer. 

      I don’t have too much of a problem with using ghosts or other supernatural stuff to tell a story, until it goes into the “need to believe” or “virtue of believing” angle.  Dickens always seemed quite the humanist to me, often showing that action trumps ideology.  He also included the obvious escape hatch for non-believers in A Christmas Carol-it was all just a dream that helped a stubborn old man realize the folly of his ways.  Notice that Scrooge didn’t fall down praying for forgiveness, or run to a church, but simply started appreciating the people in his life.  Good stuff.

      I liked the Patrick Stewart version well enough, but I agree that the George C. Scott version is the best so far, partly because of Scott’s incredibly convincing Scrooge, but also Edward Woodward’s excellent ghost of Christmas present. 
      “Uncanny valley effect.”  Cool!  I knew there had to be a name for it.  I have made similar observations of my own, that when a robot or animation looks too human-like, it seems to give a bit of a creepy vibe.  I’ve noticed that empathy for animals goes way up when they display human-like qualities, like how otters and raccoons use their hands, or the expressive eyes and faces of some dogs and primates.  I wonder, if somebody made a chimera chimp/human that looked mostly human, but still acted mostly like a chimp, would a similar effect kick in?  Would the “cute” humanizing factor be overwhelmed by disgust and fear? 
      It’s funny- I just spent the last hour or two reading articles and comments on Fark.  After that two hours of reading the work of bored journalists, pathetic trolls, and comment after comment of nothing but banality, hatefulness, and extremely lame attempts at humor, I left the site with nothing but an overwhelming sense of disgust with my fellow humans.  Then I came to SEB, and in just a few minutes, I thought about a good book that I’ll probably re-read soon, got information about a new movie version, and learned something new about an issue that had already piqued my curiosity.  I read Twenty-something news articles along with hundreds of comments on Fark, and none of it could hold up to one simple post here.  Thanks, Les!  My walk home from work will be much more enjoyable now.

  4. Brilliant display of the one thing we all have absolute control over: our attitude. I have always loved this story. Looking forward to Disney’s take on it.

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