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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Disney's A Christmas Carol (Combo Pack)

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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 07 2010 - 09:49 AM

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Studio: Disney
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French Spanish

Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: November 16, 2010

Review Date: November 7, 2010

The Film


Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic novella A Christmas Carol must be the most adapted piece of literature in existence. It’s been filmed numerous times for movies and television, been adapted for the stage in musical and non-musical versions, and been transformed into vehicles for everyone from the Muppets to Mr. Magoo. Disney has already had a go at the story with their own Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and now we have Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture/animated version of the tale, a more or less faithful rendering of the story with a handful of actors being transformed into the innumerable characters needed for the narrative. It’s a handsome picture, and quite often one forgets that he’s watching computer animation since such great strides have been made in the technology since Zemeckis first brought it to our attention with The Polar Express. It may not be everyone’s favorite rendering of the story, but it’s an entertaining and involving retelling just the same.

Crotchety miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) despises Christmas and wants no part of making merry, turning down his nephew Fred’s (Colin Firth) invitation for Christmas dinner and only grudgingly allowing long-time clerk Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) the day off for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his late partner Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman) who warns him of a terrible fate awaiting him after his life ends if he doesn’t mend his ways. To help him see his misguided and selfish path, Scrooge is to be visited by three spirits who show him moments in his past, present, and future which should help him see his follies and possibly aid in making him into a new man before it’s too late.

Robert Zemeckis has adapted the story for the movie’s screenplay, and apart from a few liberties (miniaturizing Scrooge in the future sequence plays faster and looser with the original story than in the other segments) and some rather unfunny comic touches (Marley’s jaw cracking off in mid-sentence and thus having to be held in place with his scarf), it’s a faithful and fanciful rendition of the familiar story, made more intriguing by the fact that the stars enacting these roles through the motion capture animation are often quite recognizable: thus Carrey as Scrooge talks to Carrey as the various ghosts and Oldman as both Cratchit and his crippled son Tiny Tim allow the actors to display remarkable versatility through their changes of voice and nuance adding an extra measure of complexity to this animated interpretation. With limitless possibilities with the cinematography, Zemeckis literally flies the camera around the widescreen frame often enjoying watching from above in breathtaking shots which must have been astonishing to watch in 3-D since in 2-D they’re likewise amazing, and 19th century London is conveyed through the CGI with wonderful detail and breadth. Story-wise, though, Scrooge monopolizes this version even more than in most others: the scenes with Belle are shortchanged so the breakup doesn’t land with great distress to the present-day miser, and the Cratchit family gets its requisite couple of scenes, but they aren’t milked for the maximum poignancy and seem a little lacking in emotional heft. The shortened running time makes it necessary that we get a very streamlined telling of the tale, but in this case, less is not more.

Jim Carrey certainly has a field day with his superb interpretation of Scrooge and the very different personalities of the ghosts he also plays (though the overuse of laughter with Christmas Present gets to be irritating). The other actors, though, don’t get great chances to register in their roles. Bob Hoskins is great casting as Fezziwig, Scrooge’s old employer, but his part is very brief. Gary Oldman does a fine Bob Cratchit but not a memorable one though his Jacob Marley is pretty special aided by the fantastic CGI effects with his chains. Likewise Colin Firth’s Fred gets the job done but not in any exemplary way. Robin Wright Penn plays both Scrooge’s sister Fan and love interest Belle in brief appearances, and Cary Elwes takes on five curtailed roles without making much of an impression.

Video Quality


The film’s widescreen 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The movie would be an overwhelming 3-D experience with many obvious effects designed to jump through the frame. Even in 2-D, the sharpness and dimensionality of the high definition transfer makes those effects exhilarating to experience. Great care has been taken to give these animated renderings of humans great detail in facial wrinkles and in the clothes they wear. Certain colors pop off the screen though much of the film remains darker and more muted, though the HD transfer has no trouble at all rendering this without macroblocking or banding of any kind. Black levels are meaningfully deep and impressive. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.

Audio Quality


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix begins rather demurely, but before long, the screen in alive with all manner of immersive effects, and Alan Silvestri’s music and his adaptation of traditional Christmas carols fill the surrounds in a very satisfactory way. There’s impressive use of the LFE channel with explosive bass that’s very effective. Dialogue is well recorded and most placed in the center channel though there are even some instances of directionalized dialogue which mix beautifully with the rest of the audio encode.

Special Features


“Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience” allows the viewer to open a PiP window to see the actors in their motion capture suits acting their roles on the stage while seeing the finished results in the larger screen frame. Robert Zemeckis also has an audio commentary which can be turned on to hear his comments about the filming. The commentary is not available as a standalone audio choice since its major function is describe what we’re seeing in the live-action filming rather than the computer rendered/finished product.

“Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar” offers twenty-five days of animated treats behind doors on an interactive street scene which requires the viewer to watch the days in order.

“Capturing A Christmas Carolis a 14 ¾-minute featurette on the motion capture process hosted by actress Jacquie Barnbrook (in a manner that’s a little too twee for my taste) showing how it was done behind-the-scenes of filming the movie. It’s in 1080p.

“On the Set with Sammi” is a very brief 2-minute tour of the set with child actress Sammi Hanratty who describes her typical day on the set. It’s in 1080p.

There are six deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 8 ¾-minute grouping, all in 1080p. They’re, however, in various forms of unfinished rendering.

The second disc in the set is a DVD version of the movie.

There are promotional trailers for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Disney Blu-ray in 3-D, Bambi, Tron: Legacy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Santa Paws, Oceans, Fantasia/Fantasia 2000, and The Incredibles. All are in 1080p.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

It’s not my favorite rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, but Disney’s A Christmas Carol is a faithful and fine interpretation of the story with superb audio and video (even in 2-D). The bonus feature package may be slightly light for a major Disney holiday release, but it’s nevertheless a recommended Blu-ray delight.

Matt Hough

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Posted November 07 2010 - 10:38 AM

My new favorite adaptation. Love the heart and joy of the film.

#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted November 07 2010 - 10:56 AM

It should probably be noted that to future-proof your investment, you can pay $4 more (current Amazon prices) to get the combo pack with the Blu-ray 3D edition and digital copy included.

#4 of 13 OFFLINE   AlexS2


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Posted November 07 2010 - 11:17 AM

Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill 

It should probably be noted that to future-proof your investment, you can pay $4 more (current Amazon prices) to get the combo pack with the Blu-ray 3D edition and digital copy included.

Is it bad that I am considering getting the 3D pack simply because I like the cover art more? Who knows when ill have a 3D capable TV...

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   TravisR


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Posted November 07 2010 - 11:52 AM

[quote]Originally Posted by AlexS2 [url=/forum/thread/305600/htf-blu-ray-review-disney-s-a-christmas-carol-combo-pack#post_3748153]

#6 of 13 ONLINE   Jeff F.

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Posted November 08 2010 - 07:30 AM

We really enjoyed this film and even saw it in 3D at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, it scared the crap out of our then 4-year-old son, so if you're planning on showing this to your little ones, make sure they are age-appropriate.

#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 12 2010 - 08:33 AM

In case you didn't see the coupon link in Robert Harris' 3D critique of the disc for Disney's A Christmas Carol, here's the coupon link again:


#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 13 2010 - 08:11 AM

Thanks, Matt.

Another surprise from my wife (on top of last week's message that we needed to get Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) that she wants to see this.

Me?  I'm fine "keeping Christmas" with Alastair Sim.  But I guess we'll try something new. 

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!

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#9 of 13 ONLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted November 13 2010 - 10:27 AM

Originally Posted by AlexS2 

Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill 

It should probably be noted that to future-proof your investment, you can pay $4 more (current Amazon prices) to get the combo pack with the Blu-ray 3D edition and digital copy included.

Is it bad that I am considering getting the 3D pack simply because I like the cover art more? Who knows when ill have a 3D capable TV...

It's not bad, in fact I like the 3D pack cover better myself: mine arrived today, and the cardboard slip-cover front is lenticular 3D.

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 16 2010 - 02:35 AM

Here's an interview with Jim Carrey which the fine folks at Disney have provided:


You are well known for tackling highly physical and comedic roles. Was that part of the attraction of playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the new movie, A Christmas Carol?

This role was a dream come true. Playing Scrooge was challenging in every possible way and I had to use everything I had to make this character work, but it was a wonderful, wonderful challenge. It’s something I will never forget because it was a fantastic experience. You find yourself standing in the middle of an empty warehouse wearing a ridiculous motion capture suit with balls all over it. You’re wearing a hat with pincers attached to it, with cameras pointing right into your face and you have to act as hard as you’ve acted before. You have to create a whole new world in your head – and you have to make it believable for the audience. It was a great challenge for me. I couldn’t be more proud of this movie.

It sounds like you had a pretty unreal experience shooting the movie…

To be honest, it was wonderful to work with all this new technology. It was incredibly exciting to work with motion capture because I couldn’t wait to see what the performances would turn into. It was certainly a little odd to be dancing around in the suit in front of loads of cameras, but it was also fun. You’re on a motion capture stage and there are grids and outlines of furniture and props, but you have to create the mood in your head. It’s certainly a little more difficult than doing a regular film where you’re helped by the scenery, costumes and props around you. It’s also an odd thing to stare at your acting partners and have two prongs sticking out of your head with HD cameras attached to it.

What was your most bizarre experience during the shooting of the movie?

I had a lot of face-to-face scenes with Gary Oldman and at one point he said to me, “I wanted to work with you, but I never imagined it would be like this. It’s like acting on Mars!” He not only had the pincers and the cameras staring at this face, but he was also on a crane for 90% of his performance. You have to transcend all of that and give a performance and believe it. It was a daunting prospect, but the process soon became very comfortable, especially with the help of the director, Robert Zemeckis. He made things very easy. It was a nice atmosphere on the set. It all worked out well. 

How much faith did you have in the director?

It’s so important to trust your captain on any project you work on. It’s important to have faith and to love their work. I always knew this was going to be a beautiful movie – and it is.

How tough was it to play loads of different roles in A Christmas Carol?

The wonderful thing about this digital process is that I can be cast in roles that I would never be cast in. If I have it in my soul to play a character, it doesn’t matter what my face looks like, or my age. I find that really liberating. It was a huge challenge to play all these different characters, but that’s what made the movie fun for me. I wanted to give each character a distinctly different accent from the UK, which was another challenge for me. However, it was a challenge I was looking forward to working on.

How did you decide on the different accents for the various characters you play in the movie?

I used many different avenues, but they were all shepherded by Barbara Berkery, who is a wonderful voice coach. The Ghost of Christmas Future was a tribute to Marcel Marceau and I chose a Yorkshire accent – from Sheffield – for the Ghost of Christmas Present because I felt he was really connected to the common man. Nobody enjoys Christmas like the common man. He has an innate need to party and an innate need to enjoy the Christmas season, so I felt that was appropriate.

What about the other characters?

I thought Irish would be cool for the Ghost of Christmas Past because the Irish are very good with old stories. They are wonderful at reminiscing about old times and the way things used to be. I went for a very gentle, dreamy voice from Ireland for this character. I've got Irish blood on my mother's side, so it was a tribute to my Irish roots. I put a little bit of myself in there.

How did you come up with the voice of Scrooge?

I had particular pleasure in working on Scrooge. I thought someone like Scrooge would be very careful to speak correctly, but I also wanted his words to cut like a knife. I chose to bring out the pronunciation of words with him and it had a little bit of an exaggeration to it.

How would you describe Scrooge?

I always think the only thing we have to be aware of in this world is the unloved – and Scrooge is certainly there as an unloved character. For a long time, Scrooge desperately tries to cling to whatever is good. He clings to his sister and he clings to the things that he cares about, but life slowly disappoints him over and over again. Scrooge is abandoned.

What do you think Scrooge was like as a child?

Children try to think positively about their situation and they try to make the best of it – and Scrooge was certainly like that as a child. However, by the time he is 35 years old, he’s done with making the best of life. That void can’t be filled anymore unless he really goes inside himself. However, the ghosts in the movie are his opportunity to do that.

Did you have any concerns about playing such an iconic character and making him your own?

I felt a huge responsibility because A Christmas Carol is one of the greatest stories ever written. However, I was also sure that if I was true to myself and true to my understanding of the character, then everything would be original in its own way.

What do you think of the look of your Scrooge?

It’s a little bizarre, but the character looks exactly like my father. It is really spooky. If you take away the pointed nose and the chin, that is the exact look of my father, so I got a glimpse of what I’ll look like when I’m old. What a scary thought.

What makes your version of A Christmas Carol different to other Scrooge movies?

I hate to compare movies. All I will say is that this new movie is a really beautiful holiday film. It’s got everything. You get the scares. You get the catharsis. It’s a beautiful story of redemption – and when is that not popular?

Apart from your new adaptation, what is your favorite version of A Christmas Carol?

When I was a little kid, my favorite version of A Christmas Carol starred Alastair Sim. I used to watch that version every year and I loved it, but Alastair Sim was a man whose face was born to play that part. His whole being had an acid reflux bitterness to it that was splendid to watch. I wanted to have that feeling in my Scrooge; that deep feeling that causes rheumatism. I hope I pulled it off.

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted November 17 2010 - 09:37 AM

[quote]Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill [url=/forum/thread/305600/htf-blu-ray-review-disney-s-a-christmas-carol-combo-pack#post_3750338]

But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 19 2010 - 12:15 AM

Here's an interview with the film's director Robert Zemeckis about the movie:

Why did you decide to create a performance capture movie based on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol?

I fell in love with digital cinema when I directed The Polar Express. Ever since then, I’ve been on a quest to think up movie ideas that can be presented in this new art form. A few years ago I got hit with the idea that A Christmas Carol would work perfectly in this format, so I immediately went back and read the book to refresh my memory on the story. That’s when I realized that the story has never been realized in a way that it was actually imagined by Charles Dickens as he wrote it. I thought to myself, ‘Excellent! This could be the perfect way to take a classic story that everyone is familiar with and re-envision it in a new and exciting way.’ Charles Dickens is a great writer and it’s as if he wrote this story to be a movie because it’s so visual and so cinematic. I believe A Christmas Carol is the greatest time travel story ever written and I wanted to do the movie the way I believe it was originally envisioned by the author.

As the director of Back To The Future, you’ve certainly had previous experience with time travel stories…

I have. However, A Christmas Carol might be the greatest time travel story written in the English language. It’s such a fabulous story and it has definitely influenced my own time travel stories from the past.

What made Jim Carrey perfect for the movie?

Jim Carrey was made for this movie because his face is so incredibly expressive and he’s so great at creating characters. Jim is a great actor. In fact, I think he is the greatest working character actor that we have in films today. All of his talents as a performer and as a comedian come through in his performance of the various characters he plays in A Christmas Carol. He is a genius and I knew he would be a magnificent performance capture actor because every muscle in his body performs when he acts.

Why did you decide to give Jim Carrey so many characters to play in the movie?

We had the ability for the same actor to play different ages, so we went for it. It made perfect sense to us. Plus, I always thought the ghosts in A Christmas Carol were extensions of Scrooge's alter egos. When we took the idea to Jim, he loved it. He’s always got a lot of characters in his head, so he might as well put them out there.

What do you think of Scrooge?

Scrooge is such an entertaining character. We all love to watch him because everybody has a little of Scrooge in themselves to some degree. That’s why he’s so entertaining.

Are you a fan of Charles Dickens?

I am a huge fan of Dickens. However, I didn't realize how much of a cinematic writer he was until I immersed myself in A Christmas Carol. Dickens was writing novels like screenplays 100 years before cinema was even invented. That’s why his stories are so compelling.

How much time did you have for rehearsal before you started filming the movie?

I always do a table reading at the start of every project I work on. Well, I call it a table reading, but what I really do is I sit with my cast and I act out the whole movie. Everyone always gets a big kick out of it, so it’s a great way to start off.

What happens next in the filmmaking process?

Next, we shoot the movie. When we work through a scene, we record everything because there is no film; it’s all digital. It’s just the hard drives running all day long. We do the scene from beginning to end just like you would do a scene in theater. And if someone says, “Gee, I think it would be a lot better if I walk in from the other side of the room.” I reply, “Just try it.” It feels like we’re doing elaborate theatrical tech rehearsals and we hone each scene down until we all look at each other and say, “Is everybody happy? Does everybody feel good about the scene?” If everyone does, we move onto the next sequence.

There are some scary storylines in the movie. Would you call it a horror?

I don’t think you can call A Christmas Carol a horror. It’s a ghost story, but not a horror. You know what? People seem to get tension and suspense confused with horror. They are very different and I feel the need to straighten this out for everyone. There is a very, very useful dramatic tool called tension and suspense. When it’s used well, it’s very entertaining and it’s a lot of fun. It makes a film or a stage play, or a novel like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a very entertaining experience. However, it’s been polluted into the word ‘horror’ by slasher movies and the two shouldn’t be mixed up with one another. I think I’m pretty good at conveying a sense of suspense or tension through my movies, but that doesn’t mean I’m presenting horror to anybody. It’s just that I’m winding up the audience a little bit because this is a ghost story. That’s all.

You’re a huge advocate of performance capture movies, having worked on The Polar Express, Beowulf and now this movie. Was any part of your decision to make a performance capture movie down to it being less expensive to make than a regular movie?

As I said in my very first answer, the idea for A Christmas Carol popped into my head because I wanted to be able to present the images of the book the way they were written. We have the opportunity to get an actor like Jim Carrey to morph himself into all these ghosts and characters – and not do it in a traditional way with a 2D camera where other wonderful actors would play these other ghosts and people. The illustrator for Charles Dickens’ first edition of A Christmas Carol was a man called John Leech and when he read the description of the Ghost of Christmas Past, he didn’t even attempt to draw it because he didn’t know where to start. Dickens wrote it as an amorphous light. The Ghost of Christmas Past is an old man and a young man. He’s childlike and he’s elderly. Mr. Dickens had all this magnificent surreal description in there. Finally, we now have the tools to be able to present this image very close to the way it was imagined by the author – and that’s the reason behind doing the movie. In past adaptations, they didn’t know how to approach it, so they would make the Ghost of Christmas Past a woman. There’s no problem with that, but that’s not what Dickens wrote. Dickens made a very surreal description involving a man baby with a weird light – and that’s what we tried to create here. As for your question as to whether it was cheaper to make than a regular movie… At this stage, performance capture is not a money-saving art form.

So what is the future for performance capture movies?

I think that performance capture is a great way to present classics to a new generation of audience. Think of epic stories like Moby Dick and Mutiny On The Bounty. They would become a visual feast using this technique. I think you’d be able to invite whole new generations to appreciate the stories. I hope it has a long future ahead of it.

#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 20 2010 - 02:37 AM

Here is the last set of interviews, this time with co-stars Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, and Robin Wright:

Firstly a question for Bob Hoskins: You worked with Robert Zemeckis on the classic movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? What was it like to return to work with the director for another innovative movie, A Christmas Carol?

BOB HOSKINS: The first thing I’ll say is that Bob [Robert Zemeckis] hasn’t changed one bit. We shot Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 20 years ago and he looks exactly the same as he did back then. It’s remarkable. I was very excited to come back and work with him because he’s such an inspiring man. You always come out with your creative best when you work with Bob Zemeckis.

How does the filming of A Christmas Carol compare to the filming of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? all those years ago?

BOB HOSKINS: This new film was shot in the complete reverse. When we filmed Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the set, the characters and everything had to be dressed before we shot the film. Then they would blow up the frames of the film and paint on the animated characters. With A Christmas Carol, we shot all of the performances and then they added on the backgrounds and the costumes and everything else. It was an extraordinary experience.

Did you all enjoy the filmmaking process on A Christmas Carol?

ROBIN WRIGHT PENN: It was a fantastic experience, although you look like a complete idiot. You act out your scenes in a wetsuit covered in Velcro balls!

COLIN FIRTH: It was definitely an unfamiliar process. Even the process of being scanned before you start acting is quite an extraordinary experience to go through. You have to put your head in a pink, gummy thing that’s normally used to take impressions of your teeth, but your whole head goes into it. You also stand in your underpants and they scan your body with a laser. It was remarkable. Bob [Robert Zemeckis] has more information on my body than my doctor!

Was it a tough film shoot?

COLIN FIRTH: To be honest, I think my acting contribution probably came to about four hours in total. That was the entire job. I started at 4 o’clock and I was finished later that evening. It was incredible. My character talks a lot and the performance capture aspect of the job meant that I had to be word perfect, so I had to know the script extremely well. I realized that about a week before I started work, so I tried to put a lot of preparation. This wasn’t like work in the theater where we have four weeks of rehearsal to go over the lines and it wasn’t like a conventional film set where the scenes are chopped up into little pieces. On conventional sets, you know the script for a scene by midday on Day One because you’ve done the same segment over and over again – and it doesn’t matter if you make a little mistake. The filming of A Christmas Carol was different. It involved a run-through of a whole scene with no stopping. You’re never off camera. If you stumble, it’s in the movie. You don’t hear the director shout, “Don’t worry, we won’t use that line.” Everything is being used. If you get a line wrong, you have to do it all again – and everyone else has to as well.

ROBIN WRIGHT PENN: It's like doing theater in the round because you are being motion captured by cameras through 360 degrees. You just act your brains out and leave everything else up to the director and the special effects team.

Did they build sets for A Christmas Carol or was it all shot on green screen?

COLIN FIRTH: They created a skeletal version of the set. By that I mean that the door on the set might just be a frame, but there will be a handle. If there's something you need to touch, it will be there for you to touch. If you're given a cup, it will probably be made of mesh. And you’ll find yourself sitting in a mesh chair. If you have to put your hands in your pockets, you'll be wearing a very lightweight, transparent gown with the necessary pockets. You have to imagine the world that the audience is going to see, but the skeleton of the set is there for you.

Did you always know that you wanted to act or were there other careers that you considered as a child?

COLIN FIRTH: I contemplated brain surgery for a while. No, I’m joking! Acting was the only option for me. It was either this or nothing at all. I’d probably be pushing a shopping trolley down Oxford Street if I wasn’t acting.

BOB HOSKINS: As for me, I ended up as an actor by accident. All of a sudden, I was an actor overnight and I had to learn to act while I was doing it.

What were you doing before you started acting professionally?

BOB HOSKINS: I was a bum doing nothing much at all. I never had any ambition and I never wanted to do anything. A friend of mine was into amateur dramatics. We were going to a party and he said, “Do you mind if I do an audition on the way to the party?” I replied, “That’s fine. I’ll wait for you in the bar.” While I was waiting in there, a guy came in and said to me, “You’re next.” So I went in and I ended up getting the lead role in the play. An agent came over to me during the first night of the play and he said to me, “Listen, you have got to take up acting professionally.” That’s how I fell into the business – and I haven’t looked back since.

How would you describe the characters you play in the movie?

COLIN FIRTH: I play Fred, the cheerful, good-hearted nephew of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Fred is the complete opposite of Scrooge. If Scrooge is the ultimate pessimist, Fred is the ultimate optimist.

ROBIN WRIGHT PENN: I play two roles in the movie. The first is a character called Belle and the other is Scrooge’s younger sister, Fan. Belle is Scrooge’s first love. It was love at first sight for the pair of them, but it was a lost opportunity because Scrooge turns his back on a life of love and light.

What about you, Bob? Who do you play in the movie?

BOB HOSKINS: I play two characters in the movie. The first is called Fezziwig and the other is called Old Joe. Scrooge was an apprentice to Fezziwig when he was a young man. And Old Joe is a scrunched-up old man who runs an old rag and bottle shop. He’s a working class guy trying to make a living.

And finally… What effect did Charles Dickens’ book, A Christmas Carol,have on you when you read it for the first time?

ROBIN WRIGHT PENN: I read Dickens when I was in my 20s and I remember thinking, ‘What is the theme? What do you grasp from this classic story?’ For me, watching the movie is like having the greatest psychotherapy ever. And it’s much cheaper than spending $150 an hour on a therapist! Watching this movie helps us to do what we all need to do: to look at ourselves.

BOB HOSKINS: I read A Christmas Carol for the first time when I was seven years old. Back then, the book scared the life out of me, but it gave me an incredible sense of redemption at the end of the story. I’ve seen loads of dramatized versions of A Christmas Carol and none of them really hit the mark – apart from this version. I think we’ve done something really special here. I hope you all enjoy it.


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