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Some stories are so timeless, so resonant, and so iconic that they deserve to be retold for every generation.
And then there’s Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, which according to IMDB has nearly 200 adaptations. If you decide to watch one a day, it’s almost enough to see you through to next Christmas! And do I need to recap the story of A Christmas Carol? It’s so ubiquitous that the only people who don’t know it must have grown up under a rock. That’s the only explanation I’ll accept.
I wouldn’t call this over abundance of A Christmas Carol a bad thing, however, as each version manages to bring something unique and memorable to the original tale. Like with Peter Pan, there’s one for every generation – well okay, more like five, but you get the idea. It’s great to see people discussing which one they believe is best because there’s no shortage of fascinating takes out there (As for me, I find the best straight adaptation is the 1951 version with Alistair Sim, the best take with a twist is the Muppets one, and the best modern day/parody one is Scrooged). But of course we’re here today to talk about one particular adaptation many have grown up with. For some, it was even their very first exposure to A Christmas Carol. I should know. It was for me.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol actually began as a read-along record album produced in the 70’s and narrated by Scrooge McDuck himself. There’s little differentiating it from its eventual animated counterpart, though the cast of holiday haunts is slightly altered – jolly old wizard Merlin from The Sword in the Stone is the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Snow White’s Wicked Witch takes an even more frightening turn as the Ghost of Christmas Future. In an attempt to revive Mickey Mouse’s waning popularity, it was decided that the story would be perfect fodder for a brand new short. It was originally supposed to premiere on television as a regular holiday special in 1982, but after an animators’ strike delayed production, the short was given a theatrical release one year later alongside a re-issue of The Rescuers. So yes, Mickey’s Christmas Carol was technically the Olaf’s Shoehorned Holiday Adventure of its time. I’m happy to say it earned a much more deserved positive reception, however, even gaining a Best Animated Short Oscar nomination.