December 12th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: The challenges facing Tony Abbott

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Abbott's victory took media by surprise

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Senate committee recommends against same-sex marriage

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Euthanasia bill defeated in SA

ENVIRONMENT: UK's climate research centre discredited

ECONOMICS: Birdsville Amendment stops fuel predatory pricing

ENERGY: Time for a new Coalition emissions policy

THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION: U.S. Christian leaders draw a line in the sand

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Women's health risk ignored by Rudd Government

UNITED STATES: Health care reforms unleash passionate debate

RUSSIA: Medvedev's desperate drive to modernise Russia

EDUCATION: Whatever happened to adult authority?

SCHOOLS: Are independent schools enemies of social cohesion?

Westmore has not read my report: Fr Frank Brennan

Morally handicapped politicians

Market economics misunderstood

Surafend massacre


CINEMA: Dickens' Christmas tale brought to life A Christmas Carol (rated PG)

BOOK REVIEW: FIRES OF FAITH: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, by Eamon Duffy

BOOK REVIEW: THE REVOLT OF THE PENDULUM: Essays 2005-2008, by Clive James

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Dickens' Christmas tale brought to life A Christmas Carol (rated PG)

by Leticia Velasquez (reviewer)

News Weekly, December 12, 2009
A Christmas Carol (rated PG). Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins.

Jim Carrey is brilliant in this retelling of Charles Dickens's classic Christmas story - this time with stunning computer-generated effects, writes Leticia Velasquez.

Stingy Scrooge and hungry Londoners, scary spirits and creepy doorknockers: we have all seen countless versions of Charles Dickens's novella A Christmas Carol. It's been trivialised in a musical and lampooned with puppets.

The last thing one expects is for the Disney version to be among the most faithful versions of the immortal tale of avarice versus charity. But wait.

Rather than reducing the story-line to a vehicle to showcase special effects and off-colour slapstick, as do many Christmas-themed films, A Christmas Carol returns to the heart of the Dickens story. It offers a piercing glimpse of a man in a prison of his own making. But then ghostly visitors quite literally lend him a hand to break free in time to celebrate Christmas. The stunning special 3-D effects were created with performance capture, a technique director Robert Zemeckis used in The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).

The emotional power of the acting and the use of Dickens's original dialogue maintain the strength of the story against the intensity of the special effects. Wild flights through the streets of London and unanticipated bits of levity kept it from being a downer and are likely the very things Dickens had intended with his descriptive passages. Surprisingly, this may be the film which best conforms to his original conception.

Though minor scenes from the book are not shown, and some liberties are taken with the plot, the central scenes are played with respect for their original meaning.

Zemeckis makes powerful use of close-ups. Particularly moving is the scene where Bob Crachit is brought face to face with the invisible visitor Scrooge as he mourns the loss of his son Tiny Tim, poignantly aiding Scrooge's discovery of the secret of a life which is well lived. Mature themes of charity, repentance and greed are portrayed in a way which reaches the youngest of viewers.

Jim Carrey is at his flexible best in A Christmas Carol. He scowls as the curmudgeonly Scrooge, is sprightly and winsome as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and laughs uproariously as the Ghost of Christmas Present. His personality is as varied as his characters, yet does not overpower them.

Thanks to Carrey's physicality, Scrooge is dramatically overwhelmed by the powers of the spirits, who remind him that there is a world where money has no power. Colin Firth is charming as Scrooge's nephew, adding an authentic accent to the film.

Beautiful orchestration weaves together favourite Christmas carols and keeps the fantasy alive. The credits roll with a new Christmas song sung by Andrea Boccelli. In short, everything clicks to make this film a new Christmas classic.

The teenagers who accompanied me took turns hiding their eyes from and laughing at the up-close-and-personal ghosts. They loved the 3-D which gave them the feeling of actually flying.

As long as you do not bring children who could be frightened by the larger than life ghosts, this is the family film to ring in the Christmas season.

This review, by New York writer Leticia Velasquez, is reproduced in News Weekly by kind permission of The original article appeared at

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