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A Ghost of a Chance: Zemeckis’s “A Christmas Carol”

A Ghost of a Chance: Zemeckis's "A Christmas Carol"

If there’s ever been a scene that requires no embellishment in the translation from page to screen, it’s Ebenezer Scrooge’s meeting with the melancholy crumble of bones that were once Jacob Marley. Yet in Robert Zemeckis’s motion-capture update of A Christmas Carol, this most famous of narrative-inciting exchanges nearly bursts with overemphasis. Not content to merely moan and rattle his chains, this Marley is a veritable explosion of frights; when he tells Scrooge of the clanking irons invisibly wrapped around his own body and soul, wailing, “It is a ponderous chain,” the “p” is pronounced with such force that spittle and teeth fly out of Marley’s gaping mouth and directly into not only Scrooge’s face but also those of the audience members flinching behind their 3-D glasses. Then, when Marley retorts to Scrooge’s protestations that he was a good man of business with the heart-stirring speech, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business,” the words emanate from its gaping, cracked jaw, and though the image is borrowed from Dickens, here it only serves to make such gorgeous prose a nearly indecipherable, garbled hiss. Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky’s review of A Christmas Carol.

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