Saturday, December 23, 2017
“Your Reclamation, Then” | Michael Caine (1992)
Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project
The Muppets cut from Scrooge's going to bed to back outside where Gonzo and Rizzo are trying to get inside the house to continue narrating. It's some fun shenanigans, but nothing important to the story.
Back inside, Scrooge is asleep and still holding his poker. He's left a candle burning and it's lighting up the room pretty well; even shining through Scrooge's thin bed curtains. A clock shows that it's five minutes to one, so the film uses the time to visit Gonzo and Rizzo again as they're climbing a rope to get to Scrooge's upstairs window. Gonzo is back to narrating, talking about how Scrooge is in a dreamless sleep.
Inside once more, the clock finally chimes one and causes Scrooge to open an eye. His candle goes out and Gonzo, now on top of a tree branch right outside Scrooge's window, yells a repeat of the Marleys' warning, "Expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one!" And on cue, Scrooge's window fills with blinding light.
Scrooge is startled into getting up and - poker in hand - opens his bed curtains. The light gathers itself into a single point, finally taking the form of a small, floating child with gauzy robes that swim around her. There's no cap or holly and the only reference to fire is her flaming red hair.
Scrooge puts down the poker and comments on her apparent youth. She explains that she can remember nearly 1900 years, so she's the Ghost of All Christmas' Past, then; not just Scrooge's.
Scrooge is polite. He's probably a little freaked out, but she doesn't appear to be a threat. And when she says that she's there for his welfare, he's bold enough to suggest a night's unbroken rest might aid him better.
She changes her mission to his "salvation, then." If the story is about Scrooge's avoiding Hell, then words like "reclamation," "redemption," and "salvation" are relatively interchangeable, but I don't think that's the best interpretation. When we get to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the focus will be on Scrooge's impact on this world; not his fate in the next. So in that context, "salvation" has to refer to Scrooge's being saved from his own misery. It basically means the same thing as "reclamation," where he's being reclaimed from Misery for the side of Joy. In both cases, it's a rescue mission and I like both words better than the Albert Finney version's "redemption." "Reclamation" is still the best word though, because "salvation" does carry a specific religious connotation that the story isn't really focusing on.
When she tells Scrooge to "take heed," there's no threat in it. She's too tiny and sweet. She just wants him to be careful and pay attention. She's clearly there for his own good, if only he'll let her help him. When she tells him, "Come," it feels like a request.
The windows open by themselves though (revealing Gonzo and Rizzo on the branch outside) and that worries Scrooge. He expresses his concern about going out that way.
"A touch of my hand," she responds, "and you shall fly." In so many of the last few versions we've looked at, the hand on the heart is ignored and the Spirit's touch is all about magically getting Scrooge where he needs to go. That's disappointing.
Scrooge does touch her tiny hand though and off they fly through the window. Gonzo chuckles gleefully and swings his grappling hook.