A Christmas Carol - Short Story (2004 TV Film)

2004 TV Film
A Christmas Carol - Short Story


The film opens at the London Exchange on Christmas Eve in 1843 where everybody is looking forward to Christmas Day, except for the grouchy and greedy miser Ebenezer Scrooge ("Jolly Good Time Lyrics"). Scrooge, who hates Christmas, shows his cold attitude to others by refusing to show mercy to Mr. Smythe, who has just lost his wife, and his young daughter Grace; supporting prisons and workhouses for the poor; and refusing to dine with his nephew Fred ("Nothing to Do with Me Lyrics"). On his way home from work, Scrooge encounters three individuals--a young woman who is working as a lamplighter, a barker selling tickets to a pantomime, and a blind beggar--and rebuffs all of their requests for charity; as he walks away from each, they imply that Scrooge will pay for his actions, specifically referencing his past, present, and future respectively. Meanwhile, Scrooge's faithful but long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit returns to his own impoverished family, telling his ill son Tiny Tim that despite their circumstances, their love for one another is the greatest treasure on Earth ("You Mean More to Me Lyrics"). That night, as Scrooge dines alone before going to bed, the ghost of his seven-year dead partner Jacob Marley appears; Marley is doomed to spend the afterlife bound in heavy chains that he forged with his own greed and obsession with money ("Link by Link Lyrics"). He tells Scrooge that his own chain will be twice as long and heavy, but that there is a chance for him to redeem himself by heeding the warnings of three spirits who will appear to him that night. Other ghosts who also wear chains also haunt Scrooge, implying they were all selfish and cold-hearted when they were alive.

The first of the three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, arrives after the bell chimes One; Scrooge recognizes her as the lamplighter he met the previous day, though the Spirit denies it ("The Lights of Long Ago Lyrics"). She takes Scrooge on a trip into his past, first showing him Scrooge's father in court; a judge sentences him to debtor's prison, and as the elder Scrooge is taken away, he shouts to his son to make a fortune and do everything in his power to keep it. Despite their poverty, Scrooge's mother encourages both her son and daughter, Fan, to keep their spirits buoyed with faith ("God Bless Us, Everyone Lyrics"). The Spirit next shows Scrooge his boyhood, and how he dreamed of home and family to keep himself hopeful throughout lean times ("A Place Called Home Lyrics"). The next vignette depicts Scrooge and Marley as young men apprenticed to Mr. Fezziwig, a jolly man who throws a massive Christmas party each year to celebrate the season ("Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball Lyrics"). Later, the death of Scrooge's mother and sister turns him against the world, and he gradually becomes obsessed with his money-lending business. He denies a loan to the Fezziwigs, and his former employer realizes that his apprentice has become a hardhearted man. Similarly, Scrooge's fiancée Emily breaks her engagement with him, as his love for gold is stronger than his affection for her. In a final tragic moment, Marley himself suddenly falls ill in their counting house on Christmas Eve, dying in Scrooge's arms.

At the stroke of Two, the Ghost of Christmas Present--who resembles the barker selling tickets--haunts Scrooge and shows him how others keep the spirit of the season ("Abundance and Charity Lyrics"). He first transports him to a joyous Christmas pageant, where dancers and singers describe the pleasures found in the Yuletide; the lessons seem to be affecting Scrooge, as he joins in the pageant and gives young Grace Smythe (who is in the audience) a small present rather than keep it for himself. Scrooge is next shown the Cratchit home, and is stunned by the happiness they and other poor individuals find in the holidays ("Christmas Together Lyrics"). Scrooge expresses concern for Tiny Tim, and the Spirit foretells that the child will die if his conditions are not improved immediately. During a brief visit to Fred's home, Scrooge discovers that others see him as a miserly, lonely fool for ignoring family, but Fred remains hopeful that his uncle will someday come around ("God Bless Us, Everyone Reprise One"). The ghost, who has rapidly aged over the course of the day, shows Scrooge the two monstrous children Ignorance and Want that cling to his legs, warning Scrooge that they will doom both Scrooge and mankind altogether if they are not cared for. The spirit and children vanish, returning Scrooge to his bedroom.

At the stroke of Three, the blind beggar woman appears in Scrooge's bedroom; she removes her tattered robes and becomes a tall, beautiful woman dressed all in white: the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The silent spirit shows Scrooge what lies in store in the future if he doesn't change ("Dancing on Your Grave Lyrics"). Scrooge discovers that his fellow exchange workers--and indeed, no one at all--is mourning for him, while his charwoman and other impoverished people strip his body and bedroom of their valuables to sell to a shady pawnbroker. Scrooge also witnesses the Cratchits kneeling before Tiny Tim's grave, as nothing was done to save him ("You Mean More to Me Reprise"). The Ghost shows Scrooge his own bare grave, and the elderly man breaks down in tears ("Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today"). At this, Grace Smythe appears and begins to sing to Scrooge, encouraging him to find his own inner light ("God Bless Us, Everyone Reprise Two"). Scrooge joins in the song, and other children sing as well. Finally, visions of Scrooge's mother and a young Fan manifest and encourage Scrooge to feel love and compassion again. He swears to do so, but the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come attacks as a clock chimes midnight; the ground begins to crack, and Scrooge fears he is doomed to Hell.

Scrooge tumbles from his bed and discovers that the spirits have completed their work in one night--it is Christmas morning, and he has a chance to change the visions of the future ("What a Day, What a Sky Lyrics"). He takes to the streets and begins to make amends for all he has done: he orders a massive turkey for the Cratchits, gives money to charity, and forgives the Smythes of their debt. As he travels, he meets the lamplighter, who gives him a sly nod; similarly, the barker reappears, and Scrooge buys a ticket to his pantomime for every child in the city. Finally, he gives money to the beggar woman, who stands to reveal that her vision has been restored, suggesting that her blindness was an extension of Scrooge's own lack of foresight. As Scrooge continues on his travels, the lamplighter, barker, and beggar meet one another and happily walk away, implying that they were the Ghosts of Christmas in mortal form, their work complete. Scrooge completes his journey by visiting the Cratchits, promising to increase Bob's salary and work tirelessly to heal Tiny Tim. The film ends with Scrooge happily taking a place at his nephew's table, having welcomed the true spirit of Christmas in his heart ("Christmas Together Reprise Lyrics").

Soundtrack Songs: A Christmas Carol the Musical Songs (2004 TV Film)
Short Story to A Christmas Carol Musical film