The thing with A Christmas Carol is that there are so many adaptations, it’s hard to pick one. Nay, more like impossible. There was a time during my childhood where it felt like absolutely every animated show was doing its own versions, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future have become so ubiquitous I’m not sure most people even remember they can be traced back to Dickens’ book.
But when we decided to do this review, I tried to pick a definite version. I really, really did. I just couldn’t. There isn’t one version that says A Christmas Carol to me, and if forced, I might just default to re-reading the book. So in lieu of reviewing a book most of you haven’t read, let’s just round up the best versions of this Christmas classic, and then you can pick which one to watch!
So here are my five favorite versions of A Christmas Carol:
A Christmas Carol (1984)
This is one of the newer of the “classic adaptation,” but as a child of the 80s, this was, of course, as far back as I went. I wasn’t very interested in the 1935 version, for example, and I don’t think it holds up as well as this one does.
My favorite thing about this version are the final scenes, after Scrooge’s redemption. I judge A Christmas Carol adaptations by how well they sell the redemption, not by how scary the Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future are, and this one definitely delivers on the emotional front. Plus, it’s old enough you can call it a classic without getting distracted by all that technology would improve.
A Christmas Carol (1984) is available to stream on Hulu.
A Flintstone’s Christmas Carol
There’s probably some nostalgia involved to this choice, as I probably watched this version 75 times as a kid, but there’s just something about Fred Flinstone that works for Scrooge, and the animated versions do such a good job at emotions, probably because, being aimed at kids, they’re not scared of emotions.
Of course, this also isn’t a straight up adaptation, instead this special sees the town of Bedrock putting on A Christmas Carol production with Fred Flintstone playing Scrooge, which of course he is. This makes it both funnier, and thanks to some great writing, poignant. If you want a somewhat different adaptation that still sticks to the spirit of A Christmas Carol, or if you want to introduce the tale to a new generation, this is a good place to start.
A Flintstone’s Christmas Carol is available to buy or rent on Youtube.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Did I not tell you every animated show had one of these?
This is a particularly good one as an introduction to the tale, if you ask me. The runtime is about 25 minutes, it features very recognizable characters, and Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge, which is just the way it had to be. The best part – for adults and kids – will, of course, be the various characters who end up having “cameos,” but my absolute favorite is the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. Just wait until you see who it is!
Mickey’s Christmas Carol is available to buy or rent on Youtube.
A Christmas Carol (1997)
We’re here for Tim Curry as the voice of Scrooge, and basically for Tim Curry as the voice of Scrooge, lol.
All joking aside, this is a good medium between Mickey and the Flinstones and the most serious versions. This is also one of the few musical versions of this tale I actually enjoy, because the songs are more than just decoration, they’re emotional and poignant, if not exactly worth remembering. My favorite one is without a doubt Scrooge’s epic song battle with a tavern full of well-wishers calling for “Random Acts of Kindness.”
Come on, you gotta watch it just for that, don’t you?
A Christmas Carol (1997) is available to buy or rent on Youtube.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Scrooge is Michael Caine, which is a plus, but Scrooge being Michael Caine surrounded by Muppets gets kind of strange at times. Still, this is one of those where, if you grew up with the Muppets and have seen multiple movies featuring them and humans, you probably won’t mind that tiny detail.
For me this is one of the funnier versions, because, you know, Muppets. Who speak directly to camera. And though I don’t always love the combo, Michael Caine can deliver the emotion, so that’s a plus.
The Muppet Christmas Carol is available to stream on Disney+.
What’s your favorite version of A Christmas Carol? Share with us in the comments below!