My taste in fiction is quite naive: If it can’t be adapted into a great motion picture, I don’t read it. For this reason, I have not read any of Dickens’s novels, as none of the movie adaptions impressed me enough to read the original. The only exception is the movie “Scrooge” (1951) starring Alastair Sim. I watched it for many years around Christmas, almost as an annual ritual, but only just decided to read the book. It is my first Dickens read.
As with any novel that has been adapted to the screen or stage, one tend to compare the original with the adaption. Dickens’ great sense of humour is more apparent in his book, so is his obsession with food; Dickens focuses on the universality of the Christmas Spirit, whereas the movie focuses on the individual experience, and fleshes out the characters, to excellent effect, I might add. I’ve watched a few other film versions of Scrooge, but no actors convey the joy of reclamation as infectiously as Sim did in the 1951 film.
But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.