God Bless Us, Every One!

Tomorrow, I start discussion Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with my literature students. We’ve only got four classes left (three, if you take into account the fact that most students don’t show up for the last class of the semester), and I’m hoping to have fun with them.

Every single student in the class admitted to being familiar with the story, but to never having read it. I’ve read it several times and, as part of a beloved Christmas Eve tradition with Mr. Chili’s parents, have read excerpts from it every year for the past 15 or so (Dad Chili usually reads the part just before Marley’s ghost appears to Scrooge; he confessed years ago that this bit terrified him as a child).

We’re going to watch Patrick Stewart’s interpretation of the story, as well, though I haven’t yet decided if we’ll watch the whole thing at once or split it up into two classes. The film is WONDERFUL – if you haven’t seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it – and there are a lot of places where some careful investigation might yield some interesting conversation: like Zeffirelli’s version of Hamlet, there’s a funeral scene in the beginning of Stewart’s film that wasn’t in the novel, and there are several quirks of Stewart’s portrayal of Scrooge that I think will be fun to scrutinize.

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I also promised that I’d show the class sections of The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. I LOVE this movie (“light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!!” and (Rizzo) “How do you know what Scrooge is doin’? We’re down here and he’s up dere.” (Gonzo) ” I told you, storytellers are omniscient; I know everything!” Let’s not even mention the scene where Scrooge ends up at Kermit and Piggy’s door!).

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While I’d probably get some slack from my more academically inclined colleagues, I think that looking at this interpretation is a very valuable use of class time; for a lot of children, this is their first experience with the story. Seeing how the Henson gang chose to relay the themes and ideas of the novel for a younger audience will give my students a wonderful basis for comparison of the novel and other cinematic treatments.

Don’t you wish you were in my lit class?

Muppet credit

Stewart credit 

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8 Comments

Filed under film as literature, fun, great writing, Literature, popular culture, reading, Teaching

8 responses to “God Bless Us, Every One!

  1. I feel like I am exposing myself to ridicule, but I do not like A Christmas Carol; not any version of it. Is there something tragically wrong with me? I am curious to read more about how your project goes and to see how this story moves your students and readers.

  2. nhfalcon

    Mr Magoo and Rich Little also did very entertaining versions of this classic. I have both on videotape.

  3. Seester, there’s nothing wrong with you at all, tragically or otherwise. Sometimes, stories just don’t work for us, despite their being favorites of seemingly everyone else. There are a few stories I feel that way about, too. Tell me, though – is that why you want to go with a new book for the DSBC? Hmmmmm?

    Falcon, it’s been literally decades since I’ve seen the Mr. Magoo version; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Rich Little. That you have them on VHS doesn’t help me, though; the lightning strike we had a few summers back took out our VCR, and we never replaced it….

  4. nhfalcon

    For what it’s worth, I have two VCR’s. I barely use one now , let alone the other, so if you ever need or want one, just let me know…

  5. Yep. I cringe over A Christmas Story. The thought of having to read it makes me itch. LOL. Sorry!!!

  6. Christmas tales in general set off nerves in me too, but Dickens’ tale doesn’t do that to me.

    Now put up a lifetime movie or even Rudolph the Red-Nose Moo-cow, and I’m gonna have to leave the room.

  7. The DSBC should do a short story for the holiday and it should be O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi. A beautifully crafted and also classic holiday tale.

  8. ChoirBoy SFO

    The next time you teach “Carol” you might want to have the students look at the 1951 Alistair Sim “Scrooge.” The screenplay adheres to the book, but the screenwriter (the same guy that did the screenplay for “The Wizard of Oz”) makes some changes in the plotline that helps explain some of Ebenezer’s actions.

    Though some purists don’t like the changes, the “back story” elements make Scrooge more three dimensional. And they make his reclamation at the end of the story much more satisfying.

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