Sunday, 23 December 2007

Richard Williams "A Christmas Carol"

“The place: London. The time: 1843. The season: that of jollity, of festivity, and charity, of holly and berries and goodwill to all men. With perhaps one exception.”
Thus begins Richard Williams’ 1971
A Christmas Carol, an animated version of Dickens’ popular classic that has acquired a glowing reputation. The cast alone guaranteed its place in animation history for it represents some of the finest talent in British film and theatre of the day. Produced by the renowned Chuck Jones, Michael Redgrave narrated the story, and the remarkable Alastair Sim provided the voice of Scrooge, along with Diana Quick, Michael Hordern, Melvyn Hayes and Joan Sims. The principal artist was Abe Levitow with Ken Harris as the master animator. From the opening scenes of London, through the spectacular appearances of the ghosts, including glorious scenes in which the Ghost Of Christmas Present, for all the world like some green attired Gandalf, takes Scrooge on a flight over an atmospheric and effectively Victorian London, past a lighthouse sending its beams of light over a stormy ocean, and over a carol singing seaman at the helm of his ship. Or the shadowy Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come visiting Ebenezer’s own grave. Or the miner singing a carol by the flickering light of the fire. There are several film versions of the novel but this is a definitive version with the horrors of 1843 Victorian England exposed (Ignorance and Want) as well as the honeyed Christmas spirit of the Cratchits and the holly and berries. A word too about the animation. Modern technology can often produce a glossy effect that is not appropriate in all cases. In Williams' animation the sketches, often in the style of the original engravings, are perfectly rendered and the angles and perspectives quite breathtaking. Should you wish to download the movie in full an alternate version is at Google Video.

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