Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mickey's Christmas Carol

I really like Charles Dickens', A Christmas Carol. I've seen probably every film and TV version there is, save for some of the older ones. If I had to pick a favorite, it'd have to be Mickey's Christmas Carol. Sure it's heavily truncated, but it has all the Disney characters you love, and it throws in a little humor. Otherwise I would say I enjoy The Muppets Christmas Carol, Scrooged, and the George C. Scott version. Mickey's Christmas Carol was released in December, 1983 and marked the first theatrical appearance by Mickey Mouse since The Simple Things in 1953. The thirty year gap is currently the longest, since Mickey Mouse cartoons have come out every so often since Carol. Like I said before, it is a pretty condensed version of the Dickens classic, but you get all the main points. They cut out the parts of the book pertaining to his childhood, and his present-day visit to his nephew Fred's house. For a twenty-six minute run time, they get through it pretty well. Think of it as a beginner's run through the story. It was my first time hearing of the story. While it was released in theaters in 1983, it has played on TV every year since then, making it hard to miss. My parents recorded pretty much anything Christmas related in the 80's, so this short movie was on a VHS, along with other Christmas Disney cartoons i.e. The Art of Skiiing, Donald's Snow Fight, and my personal favorite Pluto's Christmas Tree. I watched these every year and occasionally dig through our old tapes just to watch them again. I'm sure I could find them on DVD (Mickey's Christmas Carol was recently released on Blu-ray), but I still enjoy breaking out the old VCR (plus I can watch old 80's commercials).

The cast is made up of classic Mickey Mouse characters such as Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy, and some of the lesser-knowns. The funny part is that the other characters are taken mainly from The Wind and the Willows (Toad, Mole, Rat, Cyril Proudbottom, Angus MacBadger, and the weasels), and Robin Hood (Lady Cluck, the rabbit children, Skippy Bunny, Toby Turtle, Mother Rabbit, and Grandma Owl). There's even the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs, apparently setting aside their differences to raise money for charity. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio), Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk), and Pete make appearances as the three ghosts. Of course at the center of it all you have Scrooge. Scrooge McDuck was partly inspired by Ebenezer Scrooge, so it's only fitting that he play him. Unlike what I thought for most my life, Scrooge McDuck has been around since 1947 and therefore was not made a character for this specific movie. This was however the first time Scrooge was voiced by Alan Young who has voiced the character ever since. Any of the classic Disney characters are unfortunately not voiced by their original voice actors, except for one character: Donald Duck. Clarence Nash, the original voice for Donald, provided the voice one last time before he passed away in 1985.

While it may be my favorite of the Carol movies, it makes me the most emotional, even to this day. Don't get me wrong, it has its funny moments, mostly given by Willie the Giant and Goofy, but this short movie will also make you cry and hide under the covers. Someday I'll make a list of saddest moments in animated movies, and when that happens, this short will be on that list, only because of one thing: the death of Tiny Tim. Yes, I couldn't care less in any of the other versions, but for some reason when I see Mickey crying over Tim's grave and setting his crutch down I can't help but get emotional. Mickey doesn't cry! I'm not supposed to see that when I'm a kid! Mickey is supposed to be happy! I'm getting sad just thinking about it! Anyway, the part that still freaks me out to this day, or at least causes me to feel a little unsettled is the coffin opening scene. Scrooge is seeing the future (or possible future) and he finds out that he's dead. Pete throws him into the surprisingly deep grave and then the coffin opens up to a blazing hellfire. Oh my Jesus this freaked me out when I was a kid. He was literally going to Hell! The ghosts could have shown him that first off and he'd probably had changed his ways!

All in all it's a great adaptation that's perfect for kids, but can also be enjoyed by adults. You know, like most Disney films. It's always fun to see Disney characters from other films or classic cartoons, which is what makes this short so great. It's one of my holiday traditions, and I hope you'll make it one of yours. Merry Christmas.


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