Friday, December 23, 2011

SCROOGE (1970)

On the twenty-ninth Lynchian day of Christmas, we present the only Academy Award nominated live-action adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novella A Christmas Carol (1843), Ronald Neame's spectacular musical Scrooge (1970). Most Lynchian things about this story were already mentioned in our twelfth day article, Robert Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol (2009). David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) shows a strong Dickensian bent to Lynch's sensibilities, particularly in navigating a story between lighthearted yet inspiring melodrama on one hand, and bleak and horrifying human villainy on the other.
While the recent Disney animated film A Christmas Carol (2009) is still an exceptional movie and Lynchian in execution, the live-action rendering of the Dickens's tale has Academy Award winning actors bringing the story to life with nuanced musical sequences that endow the story with more gravitas and pathos. Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge and Sir Alec Guinness as Jacob Marley's Ghost own these particular roles like no others have before or since. They inject a Lynchian style of humor into their performances that make every breath and gesture entertaining to watch.
And the musical genre seems to hold a few charms for David Lynch, who flirts with the forms of a musical in many key scenes throughout his movies. For instance, Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Dr. (2001) feature prominent lip syncing performances and lounge singing acts. And speaking of lounge singing, Twin Peaks (1990-91) and Fire Walk with Me (1992) never feel more comfortable than during Julee Cruise's singing in the Roadhouse or Jimmy Scott's performance in the Black Lodge. Inland Empire (2006) even includes two full blown musical and dance sequences, including the one in the video below.
Most will acknowledge David Lynch's meticulous ear for creating unique atmosphere and moods for his films, but that interest also prominently blends into his musical endeavors. Over the last year, Lynch has released more music than anything else. For those who doubt the importance he places on his music, simply visit David Lynch's Official Website and you will see for yourself that the site's primary function is as a music store.
Scrooge features one of the best soundtracks of any musical, and we argue it is the best Christmas musical ever made. Thinking back on watching this movie as a child is delightful and frightening, as it seamlessly blended a scary ghost story with a story of a man's spiritual awakening to the joy of human love. For this reason, even 41 years after its release, Scrooge remains one of the most soulful yet enchanting Christmas movies ever made. And having just watched the recently released Blu-Ray, we are thrilled to report that it is a sumptuous feast for the eyes as well as for the ears.

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