Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“Your Reclamation, Then” | Fredric March (1954)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Shower of Stars' adaptation fades (possibly for a commercial break) from Scrooge's jumping into bed to his lying awake in it. No clock has chimed, but he somehow knows what time it is. "The hour itself. One o'clock." Which is odd since Marley never mentioned what time the first spirit would arrive, but maybe that was in the script and Basil Rathbone (Marley) simply forgot to say it. Shower of Stars was a live TV show, so it's amazing that this version works as well as it does, especially considering all the set changes and special effects. (Some of the effects seem downright impossible to pull off live, so maybe there were some pre-recorded segments on this one. I don't know.)

Scrooge says that he's "only slept a few minutes," but then thinks about it and adds, "or else most of the day." I'm not sure why he'd think that second part, but it's a nice nod to the confusing passage of time in Dickens' story.

His window has come open during his sleep and a strong wind is blowing in, so he gets up to close it. And that's when the first Spirit appears. Like the 1938 version, this one is again a young woman, but there's a specific reason for it that we'll see in a minute. She doesn't match up with much else in Dickens' description either. This adaptation's doing its own thing.

Scrooge is more curious about her than scared. He seems to have accepted that he's no longer dreaming, but he's troubled by something. "It's odd. Very odd. You resemble her so much!" He doesn't say who she reminds him of and the Spirit doesn't tell us either. We'll have to wait until later to find out. Is it Scrooge's sister? The woman he almost married? Stay tuned!

When Scrooge asks her whose past she represents, she says, "Your past, among others." That's how I've always interpreted this ghost, but it's another departure from Dickens.

He asks her what she wants to see him about and he's very polite about it. This Spirit has the same effect on Scrooge that the '38 one did on Reginald Owen, but for slightly different reasons. Owen's Spirit put him in his place by showing that she wasn't going to put up with his crap. This one calms Scrooge by appearing as someone he once loved.

She responds that she's there for his welfare and he doesn't joke about it, but he does complain. He waves his hand dismissively and moves away from her, grumbling, "I've had so little sleep." It's a passive-aggressive way of trying to get rid of her and she stands her ground. "I was sent to save you from yourself."

Then she adds something odd. "You've forgotten what the world is like for children." This version hasn't had Scrooge interact with any kids. Tiny Tim hasn't even appeared as a character yet. So it's a weird thing for her to say until I consider that it's really not the world's children that she's concerned about. As she just said, she's there for him. And part of the way that she'll save him is by reminding him of how he saw the world when he was young. She just had a strange way of expressing it.

She goes to the window and opens it again. The wind has stopped now and Scrooge isn't bothered or even cold. She reaches out to him and says, "Come with me!"

He asks, "As I am?" Undoubtedly referring to his nightgown and robe. But when she smilingly nods and says, "As you are," she might be referring to his miserable selfishness. She's very patient, this Spirit.

Scrooge is still confused though. He doesn't imagine that she really wants to go out the window, so he asks, "Which way?" She tells him to take her hand and he does, but then freaks out when she leads him closer to the window. "No! Not that way! I shall fall!"

"Not when you're with me," she says. She doesn't offer to uphold him by touching his heart; she just asks him to trust her. She's winning him over with kindness and the specific memory of someone he knew. Which I like quite a bit. In Dickens version, the Spirit tells him that he'll be uplifted by its touch. This one is trying to show us how memory will encourage Scrooge.

He discovers that she's right about his safety. They don't even fly out the window, but the room disappears around them and is replaced by a different location.


Caffeinated Joe said...

Never saw this version, but I am getting the vibe of kindness and patience, from her picture and your description. A good way to ease Scrooge into things, for sure. Not sure who she resembles, but I will guess his love that he let get away. Interesting idea.

Michael May said...

I don't remember which character she resembles, either, but I'd put money on your guess.


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