Tuesday, December 19, 2017

“Your Reclamation, Then” | Alastair Sim (1951)



Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

The 1951 Scrooge ended the previous scene with a terrified Scrooge jumping into bed and pulling the covers over his head. He was able to get to sleep though and this scene opens with him snoring loudly behind his closed bed curtains.

He's awakened by the chiming of 1:00, so there's no fretting about the passage of time. And by the time he has his eyes open, a light is already flooding into not just the room, but his bed as well. As spooky strings trill, Scrooge stares - frozen - at his bed curtains, which are slowly pulling themselves aside.

Like in the Reginald Owen version, the Ghost appears first as an aura of light before solidifying (mostly; you can still see through him) into his actual form. Director Brian Desmond-Hurst goes the opposite direction from Edwin L Marin by making this version old and male. He doesn't carry the holly or a cap, though he does wear a garland necklace, which might be where Alex Burrows and Micah Farritor got theirs from. He has a cool cape, too, giving him some additional authority.

This Ghost (he prefers that title) looks much more gentle than Marley's horrifying image, so Scrooge doesn't cower. He does look extremely nervous though, smiling timidly and being very respectful with his questions.

The conversation goes pretty much how Dickens wrote it and I love Sim's performance. It's not comical, but it is very funny and even sweet to see Scrooge so changed already from the cold, confident man he was earlier. When the Ghost says that he's there for Scrooge's welfare, Scrooge gives a weak little chuckle and repeats the word. He's not bold enough to even wish for going back to sleep, but he still retains enough sense of humor to see the irony of the situation. Scrooge's welfare is going to require some serious discomfort first.

The Ghost allows Scrooge's misgiving and changes his purpose to "your reclamation," at which Scrooge smiles sadly, but knowingly. It's a masterful performance by Sim.

The Ghost is mostly gentle, but he carries an air of authority like a schoolmaster. He's not going to be argued with and Scrooge is in no mood to fuss anyway. When the Ghost commands Scrooge to rise and walk with him, Scrooge looks like its the last thing in the world that he wants to do. But he obeys.

The Ghost waits for Scrooge by the window, which opens by itself. Scrooge figures out what's next and backs away. "Through the window?" he asks. And in response to the Ghost's question of whether Scrooge is afraid, he acts like a little kid, fidgeting with his robe and turning to touch his safe bed curtain as he practically whines that he's mortal and liable to fall.

This Ghost doesn't want to touch Scrooge's heart, but tells him that a touch of the Ghost's hand will uphold Scrooge in more than this. Scrooge complies, but he's still adjusting his robe and shaking his head as he does it. Rather than actually fly out the window, though, the Spirit and Scrooge simply disappear in a gust of wind and a rolling fog.

2 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Going back to a previous day, I think I like the idea of the Ghost of Christmas Past being old, since Scrooge is old and has had many, many Christmases. It fits. Also fits that the Spirit, built upon Scrooge's harder and harder Christmas memories, is not up for taking guff from the old man. Wonder if that shows the Spirit's own hardening, against its will, from Scrooge's actions over the years.

Michael May said...

Interesting theory! I like it!

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