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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
A Christmas Carol (1977)

A Christmas Carol (1977)

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Released 5-Oct-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 58:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Moira Armstrong

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Hordern
John Le Mesurier
Bernard Lee
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


If I could work my will, every idiot that goes around with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips
would be boiled with his own pudding and buried with the stake of holly in his heart.

Ebenezer Scrooge

    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the author's most loved works, even if it is admired only once a year at Christmas time. A simple morality tale reminding us of the spirit of Christmas, it has been filmed countless times, with and without musical interludes. I have to admit to a secret liking for the Muppet version from 1992 featuring Michael Caine as Scrooge.

    A Christmas Carol was released as a novella by Dickens in 1843 and was a huge success. Some in fact regard it as partly responsible for a revitalisation of the Christmas customs and spirit which had been in gradual decline.

    This BBC / Time-Life Television and ABC co-production dates from 1977. It is the earliest film in the Dickens Collection boxset.

    The plot of A Christmas Carol is simple. Mean and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is dedicated to one mistress - money! On Christmas Eve he resents the fact that his employee Bob Cratchit wants to take the whole of Christmas Day off work. Charity collectors are rebuffed with the comment that the poor should go to the poorhouses. When they say that some would rather die than go to these institutions Scrooge replies that perhaps they should die to reduce the surplus population!

    That night Scrooge is visited by a number of ghosts who show him the error of of his ways. Firstly, his deceased partner comes to tell him that his own greed became a series of chains which he must bear in the afterlife. The three apparitions which follow are the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Each presents him with visions which rock his soul to the core. Past shows scenes of Scrooge himself growing up and making the mistakes that would lead to the love of money being his watchword. Present shows him the Cratchit household just making do with his meagre earnings and coping with Tiny Tim, their much-loved but very ill son. Yet To Come shows him the changes that have occurred in the town after a certain much-despised miser has passed away.

    It's no spoiler to say that Scrooge undergoes a profound redemption and wakes on Christmas morning a changed man full of good cheer.

    At 58 minutes this production of A Christmas Carol keeps very close to the original story. It is Dickens for the purist without a song or Muppet in sight! The visual quality, which I detail below, is appropriate for a 1977 video production. This could be a big issue if it weren't for the quality of the performances. Michael Hordern as Scrooge is a real joy as he negotiates the huge character shifts with skill and conveys a genuine Scrooge. Bernard Lee, M from the James Bond films, is Jacob Marley, his old partner.

    Despite the age, dodgy special effects and brief running time this is one of the better versions of the story, genuinely affecting without being milked for sentimentality.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    A Christmas Carol is presented on DVD in a 1.33:1, 4x3 transfer which is consistent with its original aspect ratio.

    It has not been brushed up for DVD presentation although it must be said that the source tape for the film is quite good. There is little evidence of physical decay in the tape and it is not damaged. Compression is no problem as the film has ample room to move on the DVD.

    The show was telecast on Christmas Eve in 1977. That was the same year as Star Wars but it is very apparent that the team from Industrial Light and Magic weren't on board for this film. The effects are cheesy but don't distract from the overall production.

    Although the video is clean it displays all the problems associated with old video footage. The colours are resolutely brown and green and the sharpness has gone out of the picture which has faded with time. The blacks are not very black although the skin tones are good enough to pass muster.

    All in all the picture is exactly what one would expect and provided that you go in with this expectation you will not be disappointed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sound for A Christmas Carol is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). This is perfectly adequate for this show and reflects its television origins.

    The actors are all well enunciated and all the dialogue is easy to hear.

    Audio sync is perfect.

    There are subtitles for the hearing impaired. I sampled a fair bit of the subtitles and found that at times they struggled to keep up with the pace of the dialogue but nevertheless gave a close estimate of the dialogue.

    The music is pleasant though unmemorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This version of A Christmas Carol appears to be a bit of a rarity and not easily purchased in any reason. I found only a few references to it in Region 1 and the DVD was identical as to the contents. It is not part of the Region 1 Dickens Collection.


    A Christmas Carol is a fine and straight reading of the classic story. Although light on frills it is an effective piece due to the high quality acting.

    The video and sound quality are just what one would expect for a television production from this era.

    Although the lack of extras is not a big issue it would have been nice to see the BBC use the empty space on this DVD for some extras about Dickens.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, November 27, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

Other Reviews NONE