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Featured Blu-ray Review: Scrooge

October 10th, 2011

Scrooge - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

It's still a little too early for Christmas movies, at least in my opinion. However, this week Scrooge makes its Blu-ray debut. That's the 1970 musical adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story, and not the 1988 version called Scrooged, which comes out on Blu-ray next month. How does this version compare to the others? And does the Blu-ray do it justice?

The Movie

The film stars Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge... and that's really all I need to say about the plot. Seriously. It's a very faithful adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which is arguably the second most famous Christmas story of all time and one of the most adapted novels of all time. I counted more than a dozen adaptations, and that's just counting feature-length theatrical releases. Do I really need to describe the plot?

Albert Finney plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly business man who is not at all happy with Christmas. He's introduced when he physically attacks a group of Christmas Carolers, and I 100% agree with his reaction. Shortly after that, his nephew Harry shows up to wish him a Merry Christmas, which sets Scrooge off on an extended rant and nearly gets Bob Cratchit fired. Bob Cratchit is Scrooge's lone employee, who is forced to work long hours for a low wage. Scrooge is kind enough to give him Christmas day off, but does so only under protest.

That night the Cratchit household is a happy one and his wife and fives kids are quite content, despite their struggles financially and the illness their youngest son, Tim, is suffering through. On the other hand, the Scrooge household is a lonely place, as he sings on the way home, "I hate people". His mood doesn't improve when the ghost of Jacob Marley shows up. Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge were business partners in life, but when Jacob Marley died seven years ago, he learned that his cruel life resulted in enduring torment in hell. He's forced to carry chains of his own creation. He's come to warn Scrooge that his fate will be the same, if he doesn't change. To convince him further, three more ghosts will visit Scrooge that night.

Like I said, the film is a very faithful adaptation, with about a dozen songs thrown in. It is also a very good adaptation that earned several Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Albert Finney even won a Golden Globe for his performance. His performance is clearly a highlight of the film. This films also earned both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for the score and original song, and for the most part the music is excellent. It helps support the period feel quite nicely. Although one or two of the songs seem out of place. Jacob Marley's song in particular stands out, and not in a good way. Also, the scene in Hell with Jacob Marley seem a little out of place as well. Interestingly, it's the only major change from the original novel and it doesn't work. Shows you don't need to mess with the story.

The Extras

There are no special features on the Blu-ray, just the theatrical trailer. The film does look great on Blu-ray, given its age. It's 40 years old and there are a few times where grain is a little too much, while shadows do have a tendency to swallow up details. Also, given its age, print damage is practically inevitable, but it is never distracting. Even with these issues, the film looks better than it ever has on the home market. The audio is just as strong with clear dialogue and plenty of activity from the surround sound speakers. The songs and score surround you, while there's more than enough ambient sounds and even your subwoofer will get into the act. Unfortunately, at $18, the price is a little high for this type of release.

The Verdict

While the Alastair Sim version is widely considered the best adaptations of this book, the 1970 musical is wonderful in its own way. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray debut for Scrooge has no special features and the price is higher than it should be. My advice would be to try and grab it when its on sale.


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