Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Transforming a Scrooge-Like World, Day by Day

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Transforming a Scrooge-Like World, Day by Day

Article excerpt

IN years past, an integral part of the Christmas season for my now grown-up children was "A Christmas Carol," the Charles Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the crotchety old miser who was so cruel in his treatment of his employee Bob Cratchit, and branded all human kindness "humbug."

As you remember, on Christmas Eve Mr. Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley, and is terrified by visions of Christmas past, present, and future. When Scrooge awakes on Christmas Day and discovers it all was a nightmare, he is overtaken by gratitude. His character is transformed for the better, and as a new man he disburses largess to the Cratchit family.

My children were brought up on the book, and then the movie, in which English actor Alastair Sim played Scrooge and Mervyn Johns played Bob Cratchit. The movie had some additional meaning for them because my family, in some peripheral involvement with filmmaking, had known both actors. We had visited Mr. Sim on the movie lot, and Mr. Johns, a Welshman, had spent time in the home of my Welsh parents, along with his actress-daughter, Glynis.

Now a new little son is being reared on the latest, video version of the story in which English actor Michael Caine teams up with the Muppets. It is a charming, if unlikely seeming, combination. Mr. Caine plays Scrooge. Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit. Other stars are Miss Piggy, and Rizzo the Rat, and a gang of wise-cracking Muppet characters.

The story line of "A Christmas Carol," from the original Charles Dickens book, to movie, to videocassette, has enchanted millions, and remains the same. As one writer has described it, it is a "portrayal of the Spirit of Christ, which can turn men's lives completely around. It is a story of selfishness being replaced by generosity. It is a story of unconcern being replaced by deep concern. It is a story of hate being replaced by love. It is a story of sweet benediction when the little crippled child Tiny Tim (Bob Cratchit's son), calls out, `God bless us every one. …

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