Besides the Christmas stories that are Biblical in origin, Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic telling of A Christmas Carol remains one of the longest-running, most-adapted, and most-relevant holiday tales to date. More than 170 years after the infamous miser-turned-do-gooder Ebenezer Scrooge entered our culture for the first time, there are still quite a few folks out there who could do with taking this timeless lesson to heart. I’d suggest they take the time to do what I did and watch 20 or so adaptations of A Christmas Carol until the moral sinks in, but the good-willed among you who don’t need a lesson from the spirits can check out our ranked list to see which version is most worthy of your time.
From the silent film that’s the oldest known theatrical adaptation in existence to the latest contemporary computer-animated feature film, A Christmas Carol has been presented in a number of different media over the decades. Each generation has enjoyed its own iteration of the classic tale, but our current generation has the unprecedented ability to access each and every one of those adaptations at a whim. With that in mind, here are 20 that should be on your watchlist.
A quick note on Bharat Nalluri‘s The Man Who Invented Christmas. This 2017 addition to the canon of A Christmas Carol takes a different tack in that it follows Dickens himself, played by Dan Stevens, on his journey toward writing and publishing the timeless tale. Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and the familiar Ghosts of Christmas still make an appearance, but from a skewed perspective that takes quite a few liberties with Dickens’ life. In other words, it’s a fictionalized tale about a remarkable writer of fiction, and one that seems to borrow from the canon than it adds to it. You can read Matt Goldberg‘s full review here.
For our latest addition, FX’s A Christmas Carol, from writer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) and director Nick Murphy (The Awakening), you can read my review here before seeing where it falls amongst the other adaptations.