I am a big, big fan of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and it's various adaptations into film. Although not the most sophisticated of Dickens' works, I think that its simplicity, accessibility, length, and of course setting help express Dickens' heart for social justice more powerfully than even his full-length novels. This emphasis on class division and intentional thought for our fellow man is established early in the story by Scrooge's nephew, who has dropped by unannounced and uninvited to wish his uncle a Merry Christmas:
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut–up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow–passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Why does this story and its simple message speak to me so? Have I turned into an old miser, lonely and unloved, unable to see that there is more to my life than my life? I don't think so (and I certainly hope not!). Have I become willfully ignorant of my surroundings? Again, I hope not. Yet, every year I am convicted by this simple and familiar story. I must become better at recognizing needs and seeking out ways to fill them. I definitely need to do a better job of seeing each person as a "fellow passenger" with me and not part of "another race of creatures." And as a manager of employees, I need to always consider the power I have to effect their happiness in ways beyond just the financial.
Obviously, the novella is superior to any of the adaptations, as is virtually always the case with the written word. However, of the film versions, I hold a special place in my heart for these:
1. Mickey's Christmas Carol: This may be my favorite Christmas movie, and is only 24 minutes long.
2. Scrooged: Ridiculous & post-modern take that almost undermines the story, but somehow manages to work.
3. A Christmas Carol (1999 starring Patrick Stewart): Captain Picard as you've never seen him before.