Sunday, December 17, 2017

“Your Reclamation, Then” | Seymour Hicks (1935)



Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

After Scrooge goes to bed in director Henry Edwards' Scrooge, the film cuts to outside where a lamplighter is actually snuffing out street lamps. Back inside, Scrooge sleepily tries to snuff out his own bedside candle, but he's too tired and drifts off with it still lit. It would be nice if all this snuffing of lights was foreshadowing of the Spirit and its cap, but it's not, because this version of the Spirit won't even have a cap. It could be a metaphor though, as Scrooge tries to respond to the darkening world by putting out his own light, but fails.

If that's the case, then it's interesting that he fails because he's too weak. Seymour Hicks' Scrooge has been very weak so far, so it's easy to imagine why he's failed to resist despair and has basically just given up on life. But now that forces of light are rallying around him, he appears too weak to resist them either. He was frightened and childlike around Marley and he's going to act similarly with the first spirit. Which raises a concerning question about whether or not Scrooge's transformation is going to stick. Is he just a piece of grass, blown by the wind in whatever direction it decides to push him? Or is he going to be able to find something within himself during these three visits that will make him a stronger person?

After Scrooge drifts off, a town crier appears in the street below to announce the hour of midnight (the time of the first ghostly visit, according to Marley, earlier). The crier's assertion that "all's well" is humorous since we know what's about to happen upstairs in Scrooge's room.

Scrooge wakes up and the music gives us some spooky strings as warning that something's about to happen. The old man sits up in bed as a ghostly aura forms near his foot. It never forms into anything solid; it's just a vaguely humanoid figure of light. It's voice is masculine though when it announces that it's the Spirit of Christmas Past.

Scrooge never says a word to it. He just looks sort of awestruck. The Spirit does all the talking, revealing that it's "here to show you the things that have been," and then commanding Scrooge to "look back beyond the gulf of banished years." Scrooge doesn't question or argue. He's completely passive.

2 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

I don't care for this version. Even the Jim Carrey candle-like specter is better that just an amorphous blob with no definition. Loses some weight in that. Or, more to it, it makes it more like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, which is unseen and hidden beneath a robe, most times. This one should have definition, as Scrooge's past Christmases do have substance to them. I am rambling.

Michael May said...

I don't think you were rambling. That's a great thought about how the Spirit needs definition. I agree. I like Dickens' idea that our memories are elusive and malleable (that's how I interpret the flickering), but there should still be shape to it.

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