A Christmas Carol: Ranking the 15 Editions of the Book from Least to Most Accurate

Charles Dickens’ classic Yuletide ghost story is one of the most adapted works of literature ever. Even without reading the book, millions know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly guides, present, past, and yet to come. But bringing a book to another medium isn’t always a said and done.

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There are versions of the story starring the Muppets, the Flintstones, and even Mickey Mouse in the title roles of classic characters, but some adaptations of the book are more accurate than others. From photographs from the past to more modern exhibits, these are the versions that follow the text the most.

Updated on December 17, 2021 by Zach Gass: This is certainly the most classic Christmas story outside of Christmas, and it has fascinated and captivated audiences for centuries. Christmas Carol The true spirit of ghosts, family and the season is not more than just a holiday tale, but a ritual that is repeated on a yearly basis. But only a few versions make it a true book-to-screen adaptation. This is the first novel and any other versions are merely “ghosts” of the original, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some life in these ghoulish spirits.

15 Scrooge (1970)

Scrooge Albert Finney

• Available on Criterion Channel and Hoopla

1970’s Music Adaptation Miser May not be the most accurate representation of the source material, just look at further proof to come or the end of Christmas. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t exceptionally entertaining. It’s ridiculously over-the-top, it’s comical, it’s essentially a storybook adaptation of the original,

It’s not bad, not for long, but sometimes it becomes a parody of itself. If seen as a comedy, it works for the benefit of the film.

14 Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)

• Available on Peacock

Don’t let the appearance of the near-sighted old man deter you, this is actually a very nice introductory adaptation of the story. Apart from some artistic liberties, it contains all the central plot points seen in Dickens’ novel.

related: IMDb. The 10 Best Charles Dickens Adaptations, According to

Admittedly, musical songs are hit and miss during this Christmas special, but there are some good songs like “Ringle Ringle” and “We’re Despicable.” For its short run, this is a very satisfying adaptation.

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13 Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Scrooge McDuck in Mickey's Christmas Carol

• Disney+ . Available at

Sure, the House of Mouse would want their white-gloved mittens on an adaptation, but to their credit, they check a lot of boxes for a beloved version. That being said, writing makes things more kid friendly. Especially when Mickey gets into action.

To be honest, despite its shortcomings and creative license, this is a great first introduction to the story for young children. It’s probably a safe bet that it’s shown to most viewers first.

12 The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Jacob and Robert Bob Marley in The Muppet Christmas Carol

• Disney+ . Available at

If the first title is not the first one that is visible to the viewing audience, then the runner-up should be The Muppet Christmas Carol, As the Muppet movies go, it’s pretty formulaic. The puppet is with a human star in the lead. In this case, Michael Caine is giving his all as Ebenezer Scrooge.

related: Every Muppet Christmas Carol Song, Ranked

It has its cheeky jokes, its one-liners, its sea of ​​froth and fur characters running amok, but it sticks to the text surprisingly well. Especially since Gonzo leads the story as the Great Dickens.

1 1 The Inventor of Christmas (2017)

the man who invented christmas featured image

• Hulu . available on

the inventor of christmas Deserves an honorary mention because it not only tells the familiar story of Scrooge, Marley and the three spirits but also sheds light on the life of the book’s author. dan stevens is pretty impressive As some romantic version of Charles Dickens, and through creative storytelling, we get a glimpse into his creative process.

The characters from Scrooge, Cratchits, and everyone else come to life before the eyes of the author, learning as the story unfolds. Audiences are also introduced to the background of the author’s life and the various elements that inspired the novel. It is a unique and interesting way to experience the story and comes highly recommended.

10 Scrooge (1935)

• Available on Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle and Prime Video

It is one of the first filmed versions of Christmas Carol ever released and apart from a few design choices, it’s still a pretty accurate adaptation. But with all that in mind, is this really the best version for a holiday binge season?

The short answer is no, but for accuracy, it hits the nail on the head pretty square. No exaggeration, this really isn’t the most uplifting version. Seymour Hick’s version of Scrooge is downright pathetic, and it lacks the personality of the other versions out there. But it does feature an uncredited Claude Rains as Jacob Marley, albeit “invisible”.

9 Radio version of Orson Welles (1938)

orson wells don quixote

This version was actually a 1938 radio broadcast led by Orson Welles and his group of players with Lionel Barrymore in the lead role as Scrooge. If fans haven’t experienced audio drama before, this is a good way to start.

The classically trained Wells makes the word from Dickens’s own novel Jump as he relates the story of Scrooge’s redemption, and the immersive effects are surprisingly good for the ’30s, but it’s Barrymore’s vocal chops that really The case sells. It’s definitely an accurate version, just given differently.

8 Tales of Dickens: A Christmas Carol (1959)

This 1958 TV version is included for two main reasons, Basil Rathbone as Ebenezer Scrooge and dialogue that comes almost straight out of the original novel. The downside is that it is heavily rushed to fit within a 30-minute broadcast. It’s not that the performances are bad, they cover about a mile in just a minute.

In addition to rapid-fire delivery, this adaptation is great for a 30-minute condensed version. The performances are well drawn, the script pays proper homage to the source, and the costumes and designs try to match the original illustrations from the book. Rathbone’s impressive makeup job as Scrooge certainly has a formidable quality that deserves a lot of praise.

7 A Christmas Carol (1938)

• HBO Max. available on

Now we’re getting into some of the more high-budget film adaptations with MGM’s version starring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge with slightly more fanfare. Originally, the role was given to Lionel Barrymore, but Owen’s version has some additional personalities that we love. It’s not literally Dickens, but it’s one of the best for getting familiar with the story.

related: 10 Christmas Movies Considered Classics Upon Release

Ghosts for 1938 are also influential, notably Marley K. This version certainly carries the spirit of tradition that the story has gained since its release and serves as a solid entry to the standard. Christmas Carol Rent. Not perfect, but definitely one for the books.

6 A Christmas Carol (1951)

A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim, 1951

• fuboTV . available on

Those who know the name Alistair Sim know him for a leading role, Scrooge. SIM is the standard by which all Scrooge is based. This version covers all the premise that the 1938 version did, but adds a bit more to show just how brutal Scrooge can be at times.

Sim’s version of Scrooge is definitely one of the more villainous on the list, which makes it all the more rewarding when his soul is finally redeemed. This is mainly because it is above the more script-accurate 1938 version, the tone created by the film, Making it a Specially Dark Christmas Movie, The film has a kind of chilling element that makes the audience appreciate the warm ending.

5 BBC Version (1977)

• Available on Britbox

Another TV adaptation of Dickens’ classic, but this time with a bit more panache than Rathbone’s version. The 1977 BBC adaptation feels more like a drama than anything else, and even captures the spirit of the drama as the viewer follows Scrooge through his spiritual escape. Blame it on the better production price or simply a better pacing, it’s still one of the more polished versions

The quality of the customization is certainly recognizable. From design to performance, including a young Patricia Quinn rocky horror Fame, we have to give this version a standing ovation.

4 A Christmas Carol (1984)

George C. Scott as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

• Available on Tubi, Hulu and Paramount+

Alistair SIM may have set the bar, But George C. Scott became Ebenezer Scrooge In a 1985 made-for-TV movie. Even though the film takes a creative choice or two because of the length, it still pulls a lot out of the book and finds creative storytelling ways to bring it into the film.

From design to delivery, this version is a nearly complete adaptation, including the appearance of Marley’s Horse, Ignorance and Want, and a chilling Ghost of Christmas yet-to-be-arrived. But it’s Scott’s cold, brutal, and chilling performance as Scrooge that makes it on our list. It’s definitely one of the easiest versions to find, so don’t be afraid to have it this Christmas.

3 Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

Jim Carrey in A Christmas Carol

• Disney+ . Available at

Motion-capture animation may be an acquired taste, but it’s easily one of the more book-accurate adaptations on the list. Why? Because not only is this version accurate, but it is also very accurate because it recognizes Christmas Carol The first is a ghost story and the second is a Christmas story. And yet it comes from Disney!

related: The highest-grossing Christmas movies of all time, according to Box Office Mojo

This version by Robert Zemeckis is certainly an impressive version, with not only the design and illustrations of the characters from the original book, but some scenes and dialogue verbatim from the text, including the scary parts. If you can get past the weird animation style, this is definitely a top-tier version.

2 A Christmas Carol (short film, 1971)

This version not only draws on the design, dialogue, visuals, and art style from the original novel and illustrations, but was created by animation legend Chuck Jones, with Alistair Sim reprising his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Best Short. Won an Academy Award for the subject. , Talk about an impressive resume.

As far as the animated versions go, this adaptation is about as close to a complete representation as you can get. Although it is not very long, it still covers every important point, chapter and message of the novel.

1 A Christmas Carol (1999)

A Christmas Carol 1999

• Available on Vudu

TNT’s optimization certainly deserves our number one spot for a few factors. It stars Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, based on his own one-man-show adaptation, which was essentially a theatrical reading of the book. And we haven’t even mentioned the then-revolutionary computer effects and stellar performance.

If Patrick Stewart isn’t enough to make you watch this version, the nearly identical-to-the-book script probably will. Portions of the source material become monologues, haunting scenes and spectacular presentations on the go. It’s dark when it needs to be hearty, and a holiday classic, in every sense of the word. We would happily give it the number one spot.

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