Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 25/11/2020



It’s a tale that has been retold numerous times to varying effect. This adaptation utilises Charles Dickens’ original text as a spoken story over a dazzling ballet-esque depiction of the ultimate Yuletide story.

The framing device involves a typical Victorian family, settling down for a Christmas story. Grandma (Siân Phillips) recites the Dickens story to some unnaturally cute, attentive kids with not a PlayStation 5 in sight. The action tself takes place as a performance on a stage. The players dance and interact in elaborate ways. It’s a tad unsettling at first, since we’re used to the standard cinematic presentation. A few minutes in, however, and we’re convinced. The simplistic but highly effective techniques used to deliver believable spirits and situations are remarkable. It’s engaging enough to draw you into the pretence, as it would in a theatrical setting.

It doesn’t matter how many times the story is told, Dickens’ classic always hits even the hardest hearts (this writer always jokes that he awaits his visitors every Christmas Eve), and the version is no exception. It's as visually mesmerising as the text is.

Directors Jacqui and David Morris’ adaptation also proves you don’t need to spend millions to make the story work on screen. It succeeds because of its simplicity and straightforward telling of the tale, archaic language and all. It'll please those who love the story already, and no doubt will entrance the youngsters who have yet to be introduced to its delights. A Christmas Carol has always been a gateway into horror for many, as it's usually the first taste of cinematic supernatural we experience. It also acts as a welcome palette cleanser following the awful BBC updating from last year (swearing has no place in this story!). You don’t even need to know that the voice talent includes Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Carey Mulligan, and Daniel Kaluuya; they are just icing on this very festive cake.