Sunday, December 13, 2009
With A Christmas Carol, director Robert Zemeckis shakes off the stilted wonderment of his recent pictures, casts off his cold reverence for technology and brings us a holiday film that is also a giddy tribute to good old-fashioned storytelling. There is scarcely a moment onscreen when we aren't aware that we are being manipulated, but the storytelling is so confident, disarming and ultimately satisfying that we gladly give ourselves to it. Jim Carrey's Scrooge effectively bridges the gap between old and new audiences (if there are any audiences who are new to the story), but the real star is Zemeckis. His agile camera twists and turns with a dizzying energy, counterbalanced nicely by a series of engrossing silences. From the very first image of Scrooge removing the pennies from the eyes of Jacob Marley's cadaverous face, it is clear that Zemeckis has found new inspiration in Dickens' over-produced perennial favorite. Having said that, if memory serves, I'm quite certain Dickens never had a chase sequence, nor did he ever intend for his story to inspire a chase sequence in his original text, but this is a 3-D movie and as such can be forgiven for occasionally pandering to the mainstream. Dickens was after all a showman in his day and prone to his own giddy indulgences. Who could blame him? He was paid by the word.