Advent Calendar 2017! - Day 2


Version: Scrooge (1935, dir. Henry Edwards)

We're now going to step back in time almost half a century with our analysis of shot-reverse-shot Scrooge/urchin conversations. In this, the first ever sound film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, we can see the rules of the perfect cinematic Scrooge/urchin conversation just starting to come together. We have our first shot focusing on Scrooge looking out the window and our second shot focusing on the urchin. The biggest deviation from day 1's scene is that the camera is initially inside looking at Scrooge in shot 1 rather than mimicking the urchin looking up at him from the outside, a perspective we are denied until midway through the conversation. This has the effect of focusing us more on Scrooge rather than the connection between him and the urchin (indeed this adaptation has been titled 'Scrooge' after the man rather than 'A Christmas Carol' after the story he inhabits, giving us an insight into where Edwards' priorities lay).

We can see in the urchin shot that the idea of shooting them from high up to simulate the height of the window was not a new idea by the time Donner used it, nor is it a particularly bad one. It is worth noting however that we can tell from where the urchin is looking that despite looking down on him we aren't actually in Scrooge's perspective. Instead, it is as if we are looking down on the urchin from a window next to Scrooge's, almost like we too have been transported to the Victorian past as mere observers rather than active agents, much like Scrooge was in his travels through his own history.

Personally though, this dialogue is a little weaker than the one we looked at on the 1st of the month, mostly because of Scrooge's reaction to the date. Rather than being a turning point in the conversation from an interrogation to a request, in this version Scrooge is already excited and filled with Christmas cheer when the conversation starts, meaning there's nowhere for the revelation to take us. I do however greatly appreciate the way the shot of Scrooge changes from being inside with him to being outside in the perspective of the urchin while the request is being made. This gives us a sort of visual turning point for the scene if not a thematic one. A nice little bit of visual storytelling.

Framing 9 out of 10.
Scrooge's Reaction To The Date 5 out of 10.
Urchin Accent 4 out of 10.
Window Height 9 out of 10.
Scrooge Nightgown Quality 7 out of 10.
Urchin Cap Quality 8 out of 10.
Final Score 7 out of 10. A respectable version of the scene but it's let down by the lack of a decent date reaction or a fun urchin voice.