As of December 01 date, the Holiday Season will begin to kick into high gear. And apart from wanting to decorate with hall trees—that will inevitably be knocked over by my doggies—I’m looking forward to the XMAS movies.
As a child, I enjoyed many a Charlie brown and Company animated or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” stop action puppet tv show. This little music video gives you a taste of the charm and innocence they represented:
“A Charlie Brown Christmas – Christmas Time is Here Song” in a video by HITSOFTHECENTURY
And of course, the newer holiday films such as “A Christmas Story” (1983), starring a bb gun rifle obsessed little boy, that skewer holiday traditions with humorous gusto:
“A Christmas Story (1983) Official Trailer #1 – Family Comedy” in a video trailer by Movieclips Trailer Vault
Then there are the 1940’s film classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, “A Christmas Carol” various versions 1938, 1951, and more updated ones; and “Miracle on 34th Street” with two versions, the best with Maureen O’Hara in my mind. And these are my absolute favorites!
And with that exquisitely talented British actor and gentleman Richard Armitage being stateside a little while longer, it would be lovely to see him in some of the classic holiday films if they were remade? So what follows is my first proposed classic holiday film remake—with Richard Armitage and his previous characters cast in them, and perhaps a little help from his “friends”:
My fan fic “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” (original story by Charles Dickens) [(1) left] is the tale of a miserly young man—a friend to no one–who is scared into realizing the folly of his ways when he is visited by three ghosts (past, present, and future). He then vows to be compassionate toward his fellow man and through his good deeds, he redeems himself–and he comes to know the meaning of love.
Below is an overview of my “mash up” of “A Christmas Carol” with Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North & South”, JRR Tolkien’s (via Sir Peter Jackson’s films of) “The Hobbit”, and is set in the 1850’s:
For the lead character of Mr. Ebenezer “Ben” Scrooge, we need a growling and scowling young (rather than an old) man—so in my version, he is a growling and scowling younger middle aged man [(2) right]. And instead of being a banker, Ben needs his banker to extend his loan, or his cotton mill will fail. If that happens–his cotton mill failing–all his years of toil will come to naught. So in frustration, he lashes out at everyone and everything.
Only Ben’s faithful, and quite shy relationally, Executive Assistant Miss Peggy Cratchit [(3) right] competently and stoically goes about her duties while trying to ignore Ben’s high handedness at times. For she is in love with him. Though Peggy knows that theirs is a clash of stations and of cultures.
As such, they are discussing several matters of importance in the Scrooge and Marley Mill Offices (with Marley being his late partner) which are situated upon the first floor of one of the mill buildings—but for the lack of coals to light the fires for warmth this cold December morn. Mr. Scrooge does not believe in needless expense and waste. The only reason his Mill workers are warm is because the steam that drives the engines for the milling machines lets off heat surrounding each loom.
Peggy: “Mr. Scrooge, Sir, have you thought any more about my proposal to let the widow Mrs. Boucher and her six children stay in the Marlbourgh Mills Manor’s back room behind the kitchen, and serve as your char woman and such for a shilling a week?” She asks timidly.
Ben: “Is this the family of the mill worker from the strike who killed himself?”
Peggy: “It is. They are destitute!” She replies in an impassioned plea.”
Ben: “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?” [(3b)] He scowls in annoyance.
Peggy: “Please Sir, the children could be useful as runners and such. You will see.” She pleads. Peggy asks not for herself, but for the poor Boucher children
Ben: “They better!” He grouses. Feeling that he is becoming soft in his advancing years, he wonders why Miss Cratchit would care so much for a family that is not related to her.
And though Mr. Scrooge begrudgingly consents to the arrangement—because he would benefit from having cheap labor–she realizes that it is highly unlikely that Ben will change his harsh ways, or even look at her as more than his clerk. She would never have willingly chosen to work for such an unfeeling man. But she needed to earn in a job that would not debase her. And her pay is adequate to support her and her elderly parents, if not in comfort and style, better than many who are on the streets. And so she stays, despite the longing in her heart for something she knows that cannot ever be.
Into this mix we have Ben’s younger nephew Frankilin Durin [(4) right]—born of Ben’s beloved older sister Fanny who died in childbirth. The twenty-five year old Frankilin is handsome, brash, and impetuous—enjoying life and wishing that his uncle would do so as well. He feels obliged and connected to his Uncle Ben, because of his never having known his mother, but being told that he is the spitting image of her. And because of that shared likeness between mother and son, Frankilin’s Uncle Ben has mostly avoided the younger man—even though he paid for his nephews schooling and apprenticeship at a law firm out of a sense of duty to his late sister. And now as an on the rise lawyer, Frankilin has grown prosperous and seeks to somehow make amends with this Uncle Ben.
Having stopped by his Uncle’s Mill, Frankilin Durin issues his Uncle Ben an invitation.
Frankilin: “Come to dinner tomorrow midday, Uncle Ben—it’s Christmas Day—and meet my fiancé!” He smiles winningly.
Ben: “You are far too young to take on the responsibilities of marriage. Do not expect another farthing from me!” He points his finger as a warning.
Frankilin: “Uncle! I no longer need your support. I am earning a good wage—and I have the small inheritance from my father. I simply wish to stay connected to you as my only family member since Papa died. He smiles wanly.
Ben: “I suppose you still live in your father’s old home?” He asks with disdain.
Frankilin: “I do. It is small, but I own it outright—along with a small piece of land for a kitchen garden in Summer.
Ben: “Nephew, I am unavailable for this or any other Christmas. Now get off and be gone with you. I have much work to be done before I can head to my bed.” He grouses.
Young Frankilin shrugs his shoulders at Miss Cratchit as he exits his uncles office. Then he leaves, but not before saying.
Frankilin: “Merry Christmas, Miss Cratchit!” He waves.
Peggy: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Durin.”! She waves back. And Peggy wonders if anyone can get through to Mr. Scrooge—to Ben.
Later that Christmas Eve day while Mr. Scrooge walks into town to eat a small meat pie with ale for dinner—he notices all of the building and street light decorations and the general merriment of the people he passes. He thinks that they are all fools. Then returning home to his manor house in the mill yards, he finds the house eerily silent—with the whir of the loom machines stilled for the day.
Ben Scrooge gazes out of his bedroom window [(5) right] upon his domain of the mill. The mill is a great accomplishment and provides him a steady income. After settling himself into a nearly threadbare wing chair need to a mid-sized fire, he sips his hot toddy—his one concession to comfort and expense.
Suddenly, there is a scratching upon his bedroom door. But who can it be? Then he remembers that the Boucher mother and children are living behind the kitchen now, with her as his char woman. May be a wee one bent on exploration found his way up to the upper floors of the manor. So Ben heads for his bedchamber door and opens it quickly, expecting to give a young Boucher a scolding for disturbing him. But no one is there. He thinks that those children should not be playing pranks upon him.
Then after closing the door and turning around, he spies a glow from the far side of the room. It does not precisely look like his bed is on fire, so he walks over to investigate. As he gets closer to the glow, it raises up and widens. Then he spies his old friend and partner, Jacob Marley [(6) right]—or rather, his spirit essence, his ghost.
Ben: “Jacob! You’re dead!” He blinks his eyes several times, then opens them wide.
Jacob: “Yes, still dead.” He smiles wryly. But then his expression turns somber. “Benjamin, you know not the peril that you are under if you do not change your miserly and ill tempered ways.”
Ben: “Jacob, how unoriginal. Remember, I am not some easily deceived fool.”
Jacob: “Benjamin, Listen to me!” He shouts, making the floor boards and windows shake.
Ben is aghast—and appropriately chastened .
Ben: “What is it you wish to tell me, Jacob?”
Jacob: “You will be visited by three ghosts upon each morning hour—one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. They are your last chance of hope!” He wails
Ben: “Oh? And what hope is that?”
Jacob: “To save you from the firey pits of hell, of course. Heed well their guidance, Ben. This will be your only chance.” Then he turns toward the wall and begins to fade.
Ben: “Wait!” The ghost of Jacob Marley pauses then looks at him over his shoulder. “Why are you doing this for me?”
Jacob: “Because if I could not save myself, then the one man I counted as…” He pauses then settles on. “. friend …and colleague—you—I would try to save. Farewell, Benjamin.” Then he vanishes.
Stunned beyond belief, Ben Scrooge shakily walks toward his chair by the fireplace, and sits down. He looks up at the clock. It is a quarter to one o’clock in the morning. And then he waits.
To be continued with Chapter 2
P.S. Update: I plan to post the next chapter of this short story on Tuesday. Cheers!
References not hyperlinked above
(1) “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:
a) the old drawing of Scrooge awaiting his ghosts by John Leech (for the 1843 Chapman and Hall published edition) was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol;
b) an image of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in the 2004 BBC miniseries “North & South” was my cap from Epi 1;
c) and holly clipart found at http://cliparts.co/cliparts/rcn/Gg8/rcnGg84zi.jpg
(2) Image for Ben Scrooge is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in North & South, 2004.
(3) Image for Peggy Cratchit is that of Daniela Denby-Ashe portraying Margaret Hale in North & South, 2004.
(3b) “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?” is quoted from Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.
(4) Image for Frankilin Durin, nephew to Ben Scrooge, is that of Aidan Turner portraying Kili in The Hobbit films (2012-14)
(5) Image of Ben Scrooge looking out his window is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in North & South, 2004.
(6) Image of Jacob Marley’s Ghost is Ken Stott portraying Balin in The Hobbit films (2012-14)