Film review A Christmas Carol (PG)

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol - Credit: Archant

Enchanting re-imagining combines digital effects with dancers performing roles voiced by actors so you see Dickens’ fierce tale of social injustice afresh

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol - Credit: Archant

Ebeneezer has dropped right off as a boy’s name. You still get Adolfs and Enochs but there hasn’t been an Ebeneezar since that Shamen song. This is odd because Dickens’ famous ghost story never gets Christmas off. The second most retold Christmas story (after Del Boy and Rodney dressing up as Batman and Robin) gets another outing this year, in a version that is both radical and faithful.

Imagined as a dream of a marionette show in a Victorian child’s model theatre, ballet dancers perform roles voiced by actors, on sets that merge digital effects with stage artifice.

Dancing and Dickens sounds like a nightmare combination to me, but this version musters genuine enchantment. It’s visually thrilling (the bold merging of theatrical and computer visuals is reminiscent of Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books) and gives Dickens back his claw, strips away sentimentality to emphasise the story’s fierce exposure of social injustice.

It’s almost like experiencing it for the first time. For a Tory, Scrooge was a big softie; he caves in almost instantly to the ghosts’ emotional blackmail.

Jacob Rees Mogg or Toby Young would’ve held out till at least Easter.

4/5 stars

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Featuring Simon Russell Beale, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Carey Mulligan, Leslie Caron and Sian Phillips. Only in cinemas and selected theatres from December 4. Running time: 96 mins.