Dickens December 2023: 12 Days of A Christmas Carol, an Adaptation Analysis Xmas special

My ambition is overflowing; my time and energy less so.

Stay tuned…


I have spent some time since last year thinking about how I might expand and improve it into something a bit more structured. It may be useful to consider this as season 1, with last year being season 0. At the very least, I think I have arrived at an appropriately alliterative title.

Let us begin.

A Brief Preface

  • Although it has been many years since, I had though quite earnestly that I had read the original text in its entirety. In an effort to refresh my memory, I set out to re-read it, only to conclude that I had likely only read an excerpt , or (less likely) an abridged version. In any case, I have reconciled this by re-reading it for the first time. In the eagerness of my previous enterprise, I believe I have made some mistakes and misjudgments. I hope to address those someday.
  • In order to move forward, I think it would be best to establish a baseline by which to compare all adaptations. The most obvious candidate for this is, of course, the original 1843 text. This thought is what led me to (re-)read it in the first place. I shall now endeavor to summarize this work, to the best of my ability, in an attempt to identify and highlight the core elements that make A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol.
  • Since the original book was published in 1843, it is in the Public Domain in the United States even given the generous copyright terms we enjoy here. As such, it is freely and easily accessible. For my purposes, I retrieved a copy from Project Gutenberg.

The actual Summary

  • The full title of the book is as follows:
    • A Christmas Carol in Prose; Being a Ghost Story of Christmas
  • The book itself is split into five staves. I see no reason for my summary to deviate from that structure.
  • Stave I: Marley’s Ghost
    • Marley’s Funeral
      • We establish that Marley is Dead.
      • Dickens opines on the deadness of doornails vs. coffin nails.
    • Scrooge’s Counting House
      • We briefly introduce Bob Cratchit (unnamed)
      • Scrooge’s Nephew, Fred, arrives to invite Scrooge to Dinner for Christmas
        • There is a spirited debate on the merits of Christmas
        • Scrooge Declines the offer
      • A Pair of Solicitors Arrive
        • They ask Scrooge for a donation for the poor.
        • Scrooge declines, and shares his philosophy regarding the underprivileged.
      • Closing the Counting house
        • Scrooge very reluctantly give Bob Christmas day off.
          • He takes the opportunity to share his opinion regarding the unfairness of paying employees for not working.
      • Bob slides down a hill with some local children after leaving the office.
    • Scrooge’s Evening
      • He eats dinner at a tavern, alone.
      • He heads to his home, which was formerly Marley’s.
      • He briefly sees the face of Marley in the front door knocker.
      • He starts to climb the stairs, and thinks he sees a hearse moving up them by itself.
      • He checks all of the rooms around the house, and finding nothing, locks himself into his bedroom.
      • All of the bells in the house ring, and he hears the sound of chains being dragged up from the cellar.
      • Marley’s ghost Arrives.
      • Scrooge and Marley’s ghost discuss the particulars of his condition and the nature of his penance.
      • Marley’s ghost tells Scrooge to expect three spirits that will be key to his salvation.
      • Marley’s ghost shows Scrooge the many other ghosts that are wandering about, unable to help.
  • Stave II: The First of the Three Spirits
    • The spirit arrives
      • Scrooge is awoken by the twelve-o-clock bell.
      • After being confused about the time, Scrooge returns to bed to await the first spirit.
      • At the one-o-clock bell, the first sprit arrives.
      • After the spirit introduces itself as the Ghost of Christmas Past, the spirit invites him to leave via the window.
    • Scrooge’s early childhood
      • Scrooge sees the countryside where he lived as a boy.
      • The sprit takes Scrooge to view himself as a boy, left alone at the school.
        • Scrooge experiences nostalgia for the books he would read and the adventures he would have by proxy.
    • Scrooge and his Sister
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to another time where he is older, but still left behind at his school.
      • Scrooge is visited by his sister, Fan, who is there to take him back home to live with her and their father.
      • It is established that Fan died some years later, leaving behind a son, Fred.
    • Fezziwig’s
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to the warehouse where he trained as an apprentice.
      • Scrooge works with another apprentice, Dick Wilkins.
      • Scrooge and Dick stop working to prepare the warehouse for a party.
      • A large party is hosted by the Fezziwigs, which Scrooge remembers fondly.
    • Belle and Scrooge
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to a moment with his former fiance.
      • Belle releases Scrooge from his contract to marry her, since he only cares about acquiring wealth.
    • Belle and her family
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to a later time where Belle is married with a large family.
      • It’s clear that she is happy, and she and her husband comment on how lonely Scrooge seems to be.
      • Scrooge takes the spirit’s cap and attempts to extinguish the light, which takes him back to his room where he falls back to sleep.
  • Stave III: The Second of the Three Spirits
    • Scrooge wakes before the next spirit is set to arrive.
    • He is surprised when the spirit does not appear before him at the expected time.
    • He discovers that the spirit is in the next room.
    • The spirit, who is apparently a giant, is surrounded by decorations and a feast.
    • The spirit introduces itself as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
    • The bustling city
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to the city to see the activity of the day.
      • The spirit uses its torch to sprinkle magic onto food to enhance it and also on some disagreeable people to restore their kindness.
      • The spirit educates Scrooge on the difference between canon and fandom.
    • The Cratchits
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house.
      • Scrooge sees Cratchit’s family, including Tiny Tim.
      • Scrooge sees the Cratchits celebrate Christmas.
      • Scrooge asks the spirit about Tim’s fate, and is told that he will die if nothing changes.
    • Greater variety
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to various locations to see how they celebrate Christmas
        • A mining village
        • A lighthouse
        • A ship
    • Scrooge’s Nephew
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to Fred’s Christmas party
      • Scrooge observes the various festivities, and is quite taken in by them.
    • The end of the night
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to many more varied locations, spreading joy to all.
      • Scrooge notices the spirit growing older.
      • The spirit reveals Man’s Children, Ignorance and Want.
  • Stave IV: The Last of the Spirits
    • The spirit appears
      • The twelve-o-clock bell rings, and the final spirit arrives.
      • Despite its silence, Scrooge surmises that this is the Ghost of Chirstmas Yet To Come.
    • Men of business
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to a group of business men.
        • They are discussing the funeral of a man that just died.
        • It is clear that their interest is driven by morbid curiosity rather than care for the deceased.
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to another pair of business men.
        • They mention that the man has died.
        • The remainder of their conversation is small talk.
    • The heirs
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to a shop.
      • There are three people there, looking to sell items.
      • It becomes clear that they are selling the personal possessions of the recently deceased.
      • As each reveals their offering, they are shown to be increasingly brazen.
      • They don’t show remorse, as the deceased was not kind or well-liked in life.
    • The bed
      • The spirit take Scrooge to the bedside of this recently deceased man.
      • The spirit encourages Scrooge to uncover the face of the corpse, but Scrooge refuses out of fear.
      • Scrooge begs the spirit to show him someone who is emotionally moved by the death of this man.
    • The young couple
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to the home of a young couple and their children.
      • The man returns home with news that because this man has died, they will have more time to pay back the debt they owed him.
      • Scrooge asks to “see some tenderness connected with a death.”
    • The Cratchits
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house.
      • The Cratchits are mourning the death of Tiny Tim.
    • Scrooge’s fate
      • Scrooge asks the spirit for the identity of the man who was lying dead in the bed earlier.
      • The spirit takes Scrooge to a place near to his counting house.
      • Scrooge goes to his office window and sees that it is no longer his.
      • The spirit points Scrooge to a churchyard, with a cemetary.
      • The spirit points towards a grave, and Scrooge sees that it is his.
  • Stave V: The End of It
    • Christmas morning
      • Scrooge awakes again in his bed, this time in the morning.
      • Scrooge opens his window and calls out to a boy in the street, asking him what day it is, and finding out that it is Christmas day.
      • Scrooge enlists the boy to purchase a large goose on his behalf and bring it back to him, arranging to send it to Bob Cratchit’s house.
    • The solicitors, revisited
      • After leaving his house, Scrooge runs into one of the two men who were collecting for the poor.
      • Scrooge makes a very generous offer to help the man’s charitable efforts, to make up for past callousness.
    • Scrooge spends the rest of the morning attending church and walking about the town, being kind and pleasant.
    • Fred’s Party
      • Scrooge goes to his nephew’s house.
      • He is welcomed warmly and has a wonderful time.
    • The next morning
      • Scrooge goes to the office early the next morning.
      • Bob arrives late.
      • Scrooge catches him, and makes a big show out of it, until revealing that he will be raising Bob’s salary, and helping his family.
    • Tiny Tim does not die.

Miscellaneous Observations

  • “like a bad lobster in a dark cellar” is a fantastic turn of phrase.
  • Although it is approaching 200 years old, the core story is still surprisingly readable.
  • I deeply underestimated how long it would take me to read, analyze, and summarize this work.
  • I have learned what a repeater is/was.
  • Dickens uses both ghost and spirit interchangeably when referring to the three spirits.
  • The above is a poor substitute for the actual text. I encourage you to read it.

To be clear, the purpose of all that above was not to prove that I have read the work in question. This is not a book report. My goal was to establish a baseline by which to compare any number of adaptations against, in order to evaluate their faithfulness to the source material. I (probably) won’t be creating an elaborate scoring system so that I can assign an ostensibly objective score in order to declare how faithful a particular adaptation is. That sounds like a lot of work, and my time grows short. Maybe next year…


Here’s an adaptation I didn’t get to last year, and a pretty good place to start this time around:

I started this one fully expecting it to be dreadful, and was actually pleasantly surprised. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s clearly a lower budget affair, but it was also clearly put together with some care and respect for the source material.

How faithful is the adaptation? It does alright. This is clearly more of a remix than a straight adaptation, but there are some liberties taken not just with the characters and setting, but also with the story structure, tone, and the core conceit. The most obvious change is with the main character. Instead of being a miserly old loan shark, Karen is an arrogant, ignorant, entitled, and bigoted white woman who uses her power and privilege for selfish reasons and makes trouble and misery for everyone around her. While that could read a lot like Ebeneezer Scrooge on the surface, it changes a fundamental characteristic, class. Scrooge is a member of the capitalist class, but Karen does not appear to be. This removes from the story the sort of class consciousness that is a recurring theme in Dickens’ body of work. Don’t get me wrong, Karen (and the archetype she represents) is a villain, but she is not the same sort of villain that Scrooge (and the archetype he represents) is. As for how well it hits the story beats I identified above, I’d say it lands about half of them, without evaluating each of them individually. Here are a few highlights.


  • An opportunity to be charitable.
    • Karen is given the opportunity to donate to a homeless women’s shelter. She declines and says a variation of Scrooge’s “surplus population” line.
  • Marley’s ghost
    • The core of the character is there, even if the characterization is a bit different.
  • The other ghosts
    • There is a version of the scene where Marley’s ghost shows Scrooge the other ghosts who are doomed to wander the earth.
  • The three spirits
    • These are all similar in function to the originals, if not in tone. (more on that later)
  • Tiny Tim
    • This comes in the form of Nia, the daughter of Karen’s neighbor.

Not Included:

  • Marley’s funeral
    • One of the key points Dickens makes at the beginning of the book, and the purpose of the funeral is to establish that Marley is dead, in order for his ghost’s appearance to be a surprise. This version introduces Marley as a ghost first, which only works because the original version is so well known.
  • Scrooge’s nephew
    • The closest analogue appears to be Karen’s brother, and he mostly fills that role, but there’s no scene near the beginning where he invites her to his Christmas festivities, so it makes the reunion later much more awkward and forced than in the original.
  • Bob Cratchit
    • There’s an argument to be made that Nia’s parents fill this role, but the movie never establishes a strong enough relationship between them for it to work, in my opinion, despite going to great lengths to create indirect connections.
  • Scrooge’s sister
    • Despite Karen having a brother, they largely repurposed him in the roles of the Nephew (see above). It is fair to point out that Fan isn’t much of a character in the original story, but her brief appearance and tragic death do a lot to imply the reason for Scrooge and and his nephew’s estrangement.
  • Scrooge’s Fiance, Belle
    • Totally missing here. Again, more of an expository device than a character, but it provides context for Scrooge’s change in character, if not cause.
  • Ignorance and Want
    • There’s a throwaway line late in the closing act, but there are no physical manifestations present.

What works:

  • The Lead: Michelle Simms does most of the heavy lifting whenever there are no ghosts or spirits present.
  • Marley’s ghost: Meghan Moroney does a pretty good job of hamming it up.
  • The three spirits: All of them are fairly unique approaches to the characters, and they are appropriate for the tone of the film.
    The overall concept: Despite the reservations I shared above, I think the core conceit of taking a selfish, meddlesome Karen into the Scrooge role is a good one.
    What doesn’t work:
  • The tone: This is set up as a pure comedy, but it fails for a couple reasons. First, it’s rarely funny. A better script would help with that. Second, the comedy undermines the stakes of the story. A good example of this is that during the scene with Marley’s ghost where Karen is shown the other wandering ghosts. Instead of seeing ghosts unable to help those in need, we are shown the ghosts being hit by cars and sucked into lawn mowers. It really undercuts the misery that they’re supposed to be experiencing. Contrast this with Scrooged, which is a dark comedy, so it feels like there are still stakes for Scrooge’s character.

Miscellaneous Observations:

  • This is both set in and at least partially filmed in Celebration Florida, which is a planned community that both embodies and misses the point of the original EPCOT concept.
  • I did laugh out loud at exactly one point: In the final act, when Karen is giving Nia the skateboard that she bought off of the kid who tells her that it’s Christmas. Nia holds up the skateboard to reveal some anime tiddies on the underside. It’s a crude and cheap joke, but it caught me by surprise.
  • There’s a scene with a gratuitous holiday light show. I’m sure they were taking advantage of the location, but it doesn’t make the movie better.
  • They named the three spirits. They’re not particularly good or clever names, but it’s a cute touch.
  • There’s a movie within the movie, which is a more traditional version of A Christmas Carol that plays on several TVs throughout the film. The cast of this sub-move is made up of other actors from the main movie. The last shot makes this pretty clear.
  • There’s a dog named Dickens.

Although it’s clearly low budget and frequently unfunny, it was clearly made with some care and attention. If you’re looking for something a little different in your Christmas Carol, check this one out.


Here is another lesson in brevity.

The version I watched is the colorized version that was released in 2007, which is just over an hour long. There are apparently other versions up to 78 minutes long. This is a pretty straightforward and faithful adaptation, if a bit abridged. Released in 1935, this is the oldest version I’ve seen yet, and apparently the first full length version with sound.

Notable inclusions:

  • Scrooge confronting Bob Cratchit as he attempts to retrieve more coal for his fire.
    • It’s barely two or three sentences in the novel, and yet it appears much expanded in several adaptations.
  • Scrooge’s argument with his nephew, Fred.
    • It feels a bit rushed in this version, though, understandably so.
  • Bob Cratchit sliding on the ice.
    • It’s a brief scene, and an extremely small detail from the book.
  • Scrooge eating dinner alone in a tavern.
    • Another small detail that’s frequently omitted in other adaptations.
  • Scrooge’s gruel.
    • It is left largely unexplained, other than a brief mention during Christmas day. I think it’s an odd detail to include without context.
  • Scrooge’s fireplace.
    • There appears to be an attempt to recreate some of the art that adorns the fireplace in Scrooge’s bedroom. I think this is also an odd detail without any context, and as far as I understand has no story utility even in the book. It’s just production design here, so I can’t really complain.
  • Belle’s family
    • The one scene left intact during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence is that of Belle and her family years after breaking her engagement to Scrooge. There is a veritable army of children in this scene, which are at least implied to all be hers. I counted at least 18.
  • The Cratchit’s Christmas dinner
    • This follows the book pretty closely, so no real observations.
  • Almost all of the scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
    • These play out more or less as in the book.
    • Both Scrooge’s and tiny Tim’s corpses are present, to boot.

Notable exclusions:

  • Marley’s funeral.
    • This was likely cut for length and pacing. There is an establishing shot of the Marley and Scrooge counting house sign which hints at it, and then an shot of Scrooges residence with Marley’s name scratched out. I still think it’s a loss
  • The solicitors.
    • This is apparently cut from the version I watched, but present in the 78 minute version, so I can’t really hold it against them.
    • It’s particularly notably absent when the Ghost of Christmas Present mentions Scrooge’s statement about letting the poor die, since there is no corresponding line earlier in the film.
  • Marley’s ghost.
    • The character is present, but there is no visible actor except for a very brief shot of his face in the door knocker. You can only hear his voice during the main scene with Scrooge. It appears to me to be a choice of financial economy over time economy.
  • The other ghosts.
    • Likely left out for both pacing and budgetary reasons.
  • Almost all of the sequences with the Ghost of Christmas Past.
    • There are two scenes included during this section of the story (see above and below), but neither of them show Scrooge as he was before greed overtook his other pursuits. There is no school, there is no Fan, and there is no Fezziwig.
  • Almost all of the sequences with the Ghost of Christmas Present.
    • Aside from the Cratchit’s Christmas dinner, there are no other scenes from the book. There are apparently other scenes from Fred’s party, the lighthouse, and the ship that were included in the 78 minute cut.
  • Ignorance and Want
    • No time for them, presumably. There’s also no time for the Ghost of Christmas Present to grow visibly older.
  • Tiny Tim saying “God bless us, every one!” at the end.
    • Scrooge says it, for some reason.

Notable additions/changes:

  • There is a fairly lengthy scene of a party held by the lord mayor of London. It shows guests arriving, preparation in the kitchen including some odd slapstick and comedy, plus one of the kitchen staff giving scraps to the poor. This is followed by a scene where the Mayor gives a toast and the crowd sings God Save the Queen.
    • It’s an odd sequence to include instead of so many other scenes from the book.
    • I double-checked, and there is a sentence or two that references the Lord mayor and his fifty cooks, but that’s pretty much it. The word “mayor” appears exactly twice.
    • I suspect this may be in part the inspiration for a similar interlude in the Robert Zemeckis version.
  • In addition to the scene with Belle and her family, there is a scene directly preceding it that shows Scrooge intending to take legal action against a couple who have borrowed money from him. This is witnessed by Belle, who uses it as the pretext for breaking off their engagement.
    • It’s an interesting choice. It adds some context that was originally provided only via exposition in the book.
  • There is a brief scene before the Cratchit’s Christmas dinner where Bob is taking tiny Tim home from church.
  • In place of the other scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Present, we get an aerial shot of London to show us how others celebrate Christmas.
  • Scrooge sends Bob Cratchit home after announcing that he will be receiving a raise.

Miscellaneous Observations:

  • Despite being a fairly recent version/restoration, the print is pretty rough at times.
  • Marley’s ghost and the three spirits have very little character to speak of.
    • Marley’s ghost suffers from the lack of anyone to do the acting.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Past has similar problems, since they are merely a silhouette.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Present at least gets his regular introduction, but then barely has any lines after that.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come probably works the best here, since they are intended to be more presence than character.

Recommendation: It’s worth watching, both for it’s relatively strict adherence to the source material that it doesn’t omit entirely, as well as it’s historical significance. There have been better adaptations, both faithful and unfaithful, in the nearly 100 years since, however. It’s in the Public Domain, so it’s easy to watch. In fact, here’s the 78 minute version that I probably should have watched instead.


Missed a trick there, then. I’d be far more surprised if Marley’s ghost appeared while Marley was still alive.



I actually planned to watch this one last year, but dropped it due to timing.

This version stars Luke Evans (Immortals), Olivia Colman (The Trouble with Terkel), and Jonathan Pryce (Narcopolis). It is an animated remake of Scrooge (1970).

It would be hard to overstate my disappointment.

I’ve established something of a pattern, let’s see if I can stick to it.

Notable Inclusions:

  • There is a man named Ebenezer Scrooge
  • He’s not very nice.
  • He is visited by the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits one Christmas Eve.
  • He gets nicer.

I’m being a tad reductive here, but this adaptation is not well defined by the items it keeps from the source material.

Notable Exclusions:

  • Almost everything else, such as:
    • Marley’s funeral.
    • Nearly all of Dickens’ prose and dialogue.
    • Most of Marley’s scene.
    • All of Scrooge’s memories during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.
    • Most of the scenes during the Ghost of Christmas Present sequence.
    • Most of the scenes during the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be sequence.
    • Nearly all of the original ending.

Notable additions/changes:
A lot. This represents the vast majority of the 2000+ words worth of notes that I made while watching this. Here are some highlights:

  • Scrooge has a dog named Prudence.
    • She was previously Jacob Marley’s dog.
    • She accompanies Scrooge throughout the entire story.
    • She doesn’t seem to serve any storytelling purpose, or really any purpose other than making sure there’s a dog on screen the majority of the time.
  • Scrooge has a pocket watch.
    • It has an engraving that says “to our happiness”
    • It was given to him by his fiance, Isabel.
  • Scrooge’s Nephew has a richer backstory:
    • His mother died from complications giving birth to him, on December 25th.
      • Which is why Scrooge hates both his nephew and Christmas, apparently.
  • Scrooge’s sister was weaker due to a childhood of undescribed respiratory illness
    • Tiny Tim also exhibits similar symptoms, allowing Scrooge (and the audience) to draw a parallel between the two.
  • Bob Cratchit also has a richer backstory:
    • Bob’s father was a baker.
    • Bob’s father borrowed money from Jacob Marley.
    • When Bob’s father was unable to pay his debts, Marley took his bakery from him, leaving them even worse off.
    • Scrooge was Marley’s apprentice at the time.
    • To really drive the point home, Bob has Heterochromia so that you can definitely tell that it’s him when they fade between the child and adult versions.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present is accompanied by several small flying creatures.
    • The descriptive subtitles refer to them as cheerlings.
    • Their only purpose seems to be to provide comic relief.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present transforms into the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
    • There doesn’t appear to be any narrative purpose to it, it’s just an excuse for some spectacle.
    • The cheerlings also transform into fearlings at the same time, but otherwise act exactly the same during that sequence.
  • The entire ending has been reworked:
    • Scrooge enlists the help of some street urchins he had been harassing earlier, to:
      • Decorate his house for Christmas.
      • Procure provisions for a party.
      • Deliver invitations to the party.
    • After the guests arrive, Scrooge presents each of them with a gift:
      • To the Toy Shop owner who is in debt to Scrooge, he cancels the debt.
      • To the two solicitors who were collecting for the poor, he presents them with £2,000 (~$400,000 today) and a promise to donate an equal amount each year after.
      • To his nephew, he gives an anachronistic Santa Claus doll that one belonged to Scrooge’s sister.
      • To Bob Cratchit, he presents paperwork to form a partnership.
      • After each gift is revealed, we are shown a visual representation of how the timeline has changed for the better.
    • That’s it, that’s the entire ending. We bring all of the characters together into a single room and resolve the conflicts all at once like it’s an Agatha Christie mystery.

Miscellaneous Observations:

  • Scrooge stacks coins in a similar way to Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983).
  • Marley’s ghost at one point calls Scrooge “Uncle Scrooge”.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past has a recurring gag where she never pronounces Fezziwig’s name correctly, or consistently. It’s far from the worst thing about this.
  • The depiction of Scrooge is somewhat adversarial, certainly compared to the original text. He mostly comes off as kind of tired and annoyed by the whole ordeal, rather than frightened and humbled. It misses a great deal of the point, in my opinion.

Recommendation: Nope. Watch the 1970 original instead. This is neither a good adaptation of Dickens’ work, a good remake of the 1970 live-action movie, nor a good musical. It feels like they attempted to make the material more accessible, but it comes off as both pandering and a lack of trust for the audience.

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It is not lost on me the irony of attempting to judge the faithfulness of adaptations of this classic work and then choosing versions like this one:

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Notable Inclusions:

  • A Scrooge analogue, Eden Starling.
  • A Marley analogue, Aunt Marie.
  • A Ghost of Christmas Past analogue, the “Spirit of Christmas Past”.
  • A Ghost of Christmas Present analogue, the “Spirit of Christmas Present”.
  • A Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come analogue, the “Spirit of Christmas Future”.
  • A Tiny Tim analogue, Tammy.

Notable Exclusions:

  • Marley’s funeral.
  • A Bob Cratchit analogue.
  • A Fred analogue.
  • Most of the scenes with the spirits.
  • Most of the details of the ending.

Notable Additions/Changes:

  • Despite being a Barbie movie, Barbie is primarily used as a framing device.
    • You see, Barbie is going to go to a charity Christmas ball on Christmas Eve, but her younger sister Kelly wants to do their normal Christmas activities. As Kelly is a child and prone to hyperbole, she says “I hate Christmas!” when faced with the prospect of a change in her plans.
    • Barbie uses this as an opportunity to tell Kelly the story of someone who didn’t always know the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Eden Starling is a well-known singer, rather than a private banker.
  • Eden has a cat named Chuzzlewit.
  • In place a Bob Cratchit analogue, we have an entire theatre troupe.
    • Catherine, a costume designer, and Eden’s childhood friend.
    • Ann, a dancer, and Nan’s twin.
    • Nan, a dancer, and Ann’s twin.
    • Freddy, a magician.
      • You may be tempted to assume that this is the analogue for Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. You would be wrong to give into that temptation. Freddy’s entire character, aside from pulling random things out of his hat, is that he wants to ask Catherine out on a date.
    • Maurice, a clown/juggler.
  • The core conflict is that Eden demands that the entire troupe rehearse during Christmas day instead of taking a holiday. She threatens to fire them if they don’t show up, and if they even mention Christmas.
  • The Past sequence only has two scenes, and they are contiguous:
    • Edens aunt Marie makes Eden rehearse instead of celebrate Christmas with her friend Catherine.
    • Eden sneaks out of the house while Aunt Marie is sleeping and has a good time until Aunt Marie wakes up and forces Eden to leave.
  • The Present sequence also only has two scenes:
    • The theatre troupe rehearses, but also throws tomatoes at a picture of Eden.
    • Catherine takes costumes to an orphanage, where the children sing a Christmas carol.
      • This is where we meet Tammy, the Tiny Tim analogue.
    • We also find out that the orphanage will have to close if they can’t get the proper funding.
  • The Future sequence contains approximately 3 scenes:
    • We have a brief montage of the troubles that Eden’s performances have after she fires the entire troupe for showing up a few minutes late on Christmas day.
    • Eden’s home is run-down and infested with mice, and she wears tattered clothing.
    • Eden visits Catherine at her fashion studio, and discovers that she has become as code and selfish as Eden was at the beginning of the story.
  • The ending has Eden giving gifts, bonuses, and time off for the Christmas holiday.
  • Eden adopts the orphanage, pledging to take care of all of their needs.
  • Eden starts to leave with Catherine and Freddy to visit Catherine’s family.
    • The snow is too much for their carriage.
    • The three spirits emerge from Eden’s snow globe (which she received from Catherine in the Past sequence, and which Barbie has in the framing scenes.)
    • The spirits transform the carriage into a sleigh.
    • Notably, everyone present sees the spirits.
  • Here’s the one that probably bothered me the most. The core theme of the story is that Eden is selfish. It is not subtle about this at all. While Scrooge is selfish in A Christmas Carol, I don’t think that’s his defining character trait. I think this oversimplifies the story and generally waters it down.

Miscellaneous Observations:

  • The animation is pretty low-quality, even by 2008 standards.
    • It helps if you imagine that these are actually dolls come to life instead of humans.
  • There are quite a few Christmas Carols sung/played throughout.
    • O Christmas Tree (1824)
    • Deck the Halls (1862)
    • Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (1874)
    • Here We Come A-wassailing (Mid 1800s or earlier)
    • Joy to the World (1719)
    • We Wish You a Merry Christmas (early 1800s?)
    • If we accept that the story takes place in 1843 like the original, then only two of the six are anachronisms. That’s a worse number than most adaptations, but a better percentage.
  • Little Tammy’s crutch either clips through the floor in the scenes she’s in, or it’s modeled strangely, but it looks like the tip ends in a sharp point, which is oddly distracting.
  • All of the mirrors are weird. They seem to blur in addition to reflecting. I’m left wondering if this was a technical limitation.
  • The cat spends the entire movie trying to get something to eat, and finally succeeds at the end. I assume this is an attempt at comedy, but I can’t say for whom it would actually entertain.

Recommendation: Skip it. Although I think it does a better job than Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, I think it waters down the story too much to be a worthwhile adaptation.


If you really want a GREAT Barbie holiday movie, I highly suggest the Barbie Nutcracker. They did an incredible job of updating the ballet so it makes a lot more of a cohesive plot. They moved the Pas de Deux to the very end, and it works so well. This was one of the first movies to use motion capture technology; the ballet scenes were all motion captured from New York City Ballet ballerinas.

Thanks for the reviews. This is where I feel the original idea of having this as a public blog would be valuable. Have you considered posting these on Substack or Medium?

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I like the idea of a blog, certainly, but it would require me to host and maintain it. I’m not willing to rely on a third party like Substack or Medium, for better or worse. The other problem, of course, is sticking to some sort of posting schedule, which I’m clearly not great at.

For context, each one of the above analyses above took between 2 and 4 hours to prepare. Between a full-time job, a family, and any other pursuits, it can be hard to find that much time and energy on any given day. That’s not a complaint, just my current reality.

I have some ideas for content, and I’m working on improving my workflow to make the process go more smoothly. If I can get things in a more usable place, I can probably make it work. Let’s see what the new year brings.


I totally understand. I had a lot of people following me on Facebook when I left Israel, and because I didn’t have a job or a way to really run my business at that moment I was leaving, I wrote some long posts that got a lot of shares and traction. I got invited to be a Facebook Creator, which is great - I can earn off my own profile - but the problem is, I don’t have a whole day to write a post and I don’t make enough money at it to justify feeding them content. At the time, I had a GoFundMe so it was valuable to me to write posts b/c I had a way to get paid.

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