Jones' 1971 animated version of "A Christmas
A Christmas Carol
(1971) is a 25-minute animated cartoon adaptation
of Charles Dickens' book which was originally
shown on Dec 21, 1971 on ABC television in the
Originally produced for television in 1971, A
Christmas Carol was recognised for it's
excellence and nominated for an Academy Award...
but there was a problem. Only films shown
theatrically were eligible. So, the short was
released briefly in theaters to make it eligible!
It went on to actually win an Academy Award for
best animated short subject in 1973; it remains
the only film adaptation of the story to date to
be so honored. However, some industry insiders
were unhappy that a short originally shown on TV
was awarded the Academy Award, which led to the
Academy changing its policy, disqualifying any
shorts that were shown on television first. This
adaptation has a distinctive look, created by
multiple pans and zooms and excellent scene
transitions. It also was largely inspired by John
Leech's illustrations for the original edition of
the novel "A Christmas Carol."
Alastair Sim, Michael Hordern and
Mervyn Johns reprise their roles as Scrooge,
Marley and Bob Crachit from the classic British
film version of A Christmas Carol.
Director Richard Williams,
previously known for his stylized animated movie
titles and TV commercials, went to work for
animation studio owner Chuck Jones with the
understanding that the film should be, as the
subtitle says, "A Ghost Story of
Christmas." And a ghost story it is; one of
the reasons that the TV network stopped running
it several years after its debut was because it
was deemed too frightening for children.
Jacob Marley lays on the horror in a
The dark and atmospheric scenes
make it perhaps the scariest adaptation ever
made! Many kids that saw it have not only fond
memories of it, but also relate how frightening
some of it was to them. Which is how it should be
in any effort that tries to remain faithful to
the original story.
Richard also wanted the drawings
to reflect the look of the John Leech drawings
from the original publication of the book, and
the film seems at times to be Leech's pen-and-ink
drawings come to life. More an exercise in
artistic expression than a typical cartoon, the
film has a dynamic and energetic motion invested
in nearly every frame. The camera swoops and
zooms, combined with the unique artwork and
backgrounds, make it a wonderful viewing
Here are some screengrabs from
the film that enable you to see the great artwork
and character designs.
The cover art of the WHS video
To date, it has only been
released on VHS video (which are now going for
over $200 on Ebay). Hopefully, this classic short
feature will soon be released on DVD for those
who remember it, and for a whole new legion of
to the audio portion of the film!
Click here to listen to an MP3
recording of the entire film's audio soundtrack!
You will enjoy hearing Sim and the others in this