Cautions: unexplained fantasy elements, some emotional intensity, brief mild immodesty and sensuality, and brief language
A Christmas Carol of 1951 is a gloriously sober, serious, delightful and even funny adaptation of the classic story, with the Scrooge by which to judge all other Scrooges of Christmas past, present and future. Leaving a picture of, not the miserly Scrooge, but the joyously repentant one rollicking around in each viewer’s mind, this version of A Christmas Carol is not just a great movie, but the stuff from which great Christmas traditions are made.
1951 | Brian Desmond-Hurst | 86 min Watch Trailer
Unexplained Fantasy Elements
The supernatural elements of the story can easily be interpreted in one of three different ways: as representing a reality that only Scrooge got to witness; as an allegory, with Scrooge experiencing different aspects of Christmas—or of eternity—strictly figuratively1; or they can be interpreted as a dream or hallucination (Scrooge himself suggesting a disorder of the stomach, and then returning from each supernatural journey apparently by falling out of bed). The allegory and dream explanations are the best, within a Christian framework
Scrooge’s long-dead partner Jacob Marley appears to him as a ghost. In addition to biblical descriptions of hell, Marley says that constant, wearying travel over the earth is the lot appointed to him. Other ghosts appear, trying but unable to help needy people. All the ghosts are fettered and dragging chains.
“Ghosts” or “spirits” of Christmas (which bear no resemblance to the concept of ghosts as the souls of the dead) appear to Scrooge.
Some Emotional Intensity
Marley’s ghost is depicted as being in torment, howling imprecations upon himself in anguish. His portrayal is more theatrical than spine-chilling, but younger viewers may be startled or alarmed by his wailing, or that of the other ghosts.
A man dies of an illness without repenting. Scrooge’s sister’s death is shown, preceded by mild delirium.
A family is seen grieving and weeping for some time over the loss of a child.
Brief Mild Immodesty and Sensuality
A few women are seen in low-necked dresses.
An engaged couple kiss. A not-engaged couple sit with their arms around each other, while she (initially) declines his proposal of marriage.
Couples are seen dancing in a non-sensual way.
A character refers to an unkind person as “the old ogre”.
A bereaved father tells his wife that at the cemetery he felt their deceased son’s hand slip into his, and adds, “He was telling me, you see, in his own little way, that he’s happy - truly happy now, and we must cease to grieve for him and try to be happy, too.” This is not presented in a confident, doctrinal way.
A debtor asks for a postponement of payment on the grounds that it’s Christmas. Scrooge is portrayed negatively for asking what Christmas has to do with it, but he is technically correct that he is not required to be unusually lenient just because of the date.
A negatively portrayed side character jokes that he beats his wife and skewers innocent babies.
Characters drink gin punch.
1 A similar example would be the allegories in the book "Pilgrim's Progress", in which the Christian makes it to heaven by swimming across a river of water, or has the burden of his sins literally fall off his back at the sight of the cross.