Monday, January 6, 2014

A Christmas Hobbit, part 2

      Why do I say that the 1951 A Christmas Carol is a Good Movie, and The Hobbit is a bad movie? 

      Glad you asked.  Let’s start with movie rendition of the Dickens Christmas classic.  Many people say
Scrooge – 1951 UK film poster.jpgthat they like this particular version because it’s close “in spirit” to the original.  And so it is, even though there are a number of changes to the surface story, some of them substantial. The role of Scrooge’s housemaid is expanded, for instance, and her name belonged to a different character in the original; Scrooge’s younger sister becomes his older sister in the film, who dies giving birth to his nephew as his mother died giving birth to him, both non-Dickensian additions.  The movie makers add a fairly large amount of their own material to the section with the ghost of Christmas past, even inventing an entirely new character, Mr. Jorkin (in my family such characters are known as “gophers” after a particularly irritating character Disney Studios created for their adaptation of Winnie the Pooh).  There are a number of other relatively minor changes as well.
      The key here is that none of these changes and additions alter the sub-story.  The invented biographical information seems to have been included to provide some psychological background to “explain” why Scrooge is the sort of man he is (apparently the movie makers believed that a mid-twentieth century audience would expect this, even if Dickens’s readers did not); none of it contradicts or changes the character of Scrooge as found in Dickens, or the moral fabric of the story.  Most of the film very closely follows the course of the original book (albeit with some omissions and minor alterations), and large parts of the dialogue are taken verbatim from the text.  While I myself would prefer sticking even closer to the original (I suppose I’m a bit of a purist, after all), it is still very clearly the same tale of the redemption of the same old sinner.
     In my next post, why I'm not so fond of The Hobbit.