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Christmas carol title

The Muppet Christmas Carol is the fourth feature film to star the Muppets, and the first produced after the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Released in 1992, it was one of many film adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Gonzo, claiming to be Dickens himself, narrates the story, with the help of Rizzo the Rat. Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, with Muppets taking the rest of the parts — including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit, Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim, and Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig.

Synopsis Edit

In this adaptation of the timeless story, narrated by Gonzo as Charles Dicken (assisted by Rizzo the Rat), it is Christmas Eve in 19th century London. The merriment is not shared by Ebenezer Scrooge, a surly money-lender who is more interested in profit than celebration. He is so cold to the season of giving that his book-keeping staff, including loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog), has to plead with him just to have the day off work during Christmas by pointing out that Scrooge would have no customers on the holiday and that it would waste coal to sit alone in the office. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, arrives to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner, and two gentlemen (Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker) also come to Scrooge's offices, collecting money in the spirit of the season to provide a Christmas dinner for the poor. Scrooge rebuffs his nephew's invitation and, after his departure, shocks the charity collectors with his statement that the poor are looked after by prisons and workhouses, and their deaths will decrease the surplus population.

Later that evening, Scrooge finds himself face to face with the still mean-spirited spirits of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley(Statler and Waldorf), who have been condemned to shackles in the afterlife as payment for the horrible deeds they committed in life. Nonetheless, they warn him that he will share the same fate, only worse if he does not change his ways, and foretell the arrival of three spirits throughout the night.

Scrooge is first visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes Scrooge on a journey back through time to his youth. He recalls his early school days, during which he focused on his studies; meeting of a young woman named Belle, with whom he would later fall in love; and the end of their relationship, despite Scrooge's protests that he would marry her as soon as he feels he has enough money to provide for them, but Belle knows he will most likely never have that, given his birthing obsession with money.

Scrooge then meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, a large, festive spirit with a booming voice who lives only for the here and now. He gives Scrooge a glimpse into the holiday celebration of others, including Bob Cratchit, and his family who, although poor, are enjoying Christmas together and reveling in the anticipation of the Christmas goose. The Spirit also shows Scrooge's own family, who are not above cracking jokes at Scrooge's expense.

Finally, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a silent entity who reveals the chilling revelation that young Tiny Tim will not survive the coming year, thanks in no small part to the impoverished existence of the Cratchit family. Furthermore, it is revealed that when Scrooge's own time has passed, others will certainly delight in his absence from the world. Upon seeing his headstone in the cemetery, it is the final epiphany that convinces Scrooge to change his ways and makes him vow to celebrate with his fellow man.

Scrooge returns to his bedroom on Christmas Day, and he goes about the town spreading good deeds and charity. He enlists the help of Bean Bunny, at whom he threw a wreath earlier in the film, and the two travel around the town gathering items for a Christmas feast and giving gifts to characters who had previously been wronged by Scrooge. Scrooge tells his assistant, Bob Cratchit, that he is going to raise his salary, and pay for his house mortgage. He also plans a feast for Cratchit's family and learns to adopt the spirit of Christmas throughout the year, now encouraged by the addition of new friends.

Edits Edit

Like many films, when The Muppet Christmas Carol was going through production, many concepts, ideas, and even songs were conceived which did not make it into the final film. The song "When Love Is Gone" was originally planned to be part of the film; however, it was dropped when filmmakers found that the test audiences (mainly family viewers with younger children) become restless during the scene. Its reprise at the film's finale, "The Love We Found," and the pop version over the closing credits, were retained. Producers felt the song slowed the film down, and was not Muppet-focused; plus the film was already pushing the limits of many younger viewers' attention spans in the test screenings. The producers decided to cut the song from the theatrical release of the film.

It was not until the film was released on home video that the song was presented to the viewers. They felt that the song worked better in a home-viewing context, and audiences would be more accepting, understanding and appreciative of its inclusion. The song was included for subsequent American video releases and TV airings of the movie prior to the 2012 Blu-Ray edition, which only includes the theatrical cut albeit with a different edit of the sequence. This version of the film has since aired on ABC Family. The song is also removed in the UK and Region 2 DVD release. The issue of this cut was discussed by director Brian Henson in the film's DVD audio commentary recorded in 2002 (again, except on the UK DVD release, which omits the commentary as well).

There are common misconceptions and confusion surrounding two other songs written for the film that weren't seen in the final product. The songs "Room in Your Heart" (sung by Bunsen and Beaker) and "Chairman of the Board" (sung by Sam Eagle) were written by Paul Williams for the film. The two songs were recorded and mixed. However, they didn't move further into development because the filmmakers felt the film was already going to be quite lengthy, that the songs didn’t help progress the story, and that they would hurt the overall pacing and feel of the film. The two numbers were dropped from the script early on. These musical sequences never made it to production and were never filmed. Yet, since the filmmakers did not just want to waste the two unused Paul Williams tunes, the songs were included on the soundtrack album.

Production Notes and Trivia Edit

  • The film was directed by Jim Henson's son, Brian Henson. Despite the fact that the majority of the cast is comprised of Muppets, this film is in one sense one of the truest adaptations of the original story because it is interspersed with scenes of a narrator (Gonzo playing Charles Dickens), who -- along with the characters -- recites many of Dickens' original lines. In 2011, Dave Goelz spoke of how the idea came about;
    “Jerry Juhl saw me kind of growing [as a performer] at the same time he was writing the movie with Kirk Thatcher, and wanting the Dickens narration to somehow be in the movie because it was so beautiful. He didn't want to use a voiceover because that was an intrusion; suddenly it occurred to him that if Gonzo could play the part of Charles Dickens, he could be the Greek chorus in the movie, as well.[2]”
  • This is the first of the Muppet movies in which the focus of the story revolves around characters played by human beings. However, several pivotal roles -- in particular, the three Christmas Spirits -- were portrayed by specially-created Muppet characters. It was at one time considered that well-known Muppets would be cast in these roles (Piggy, Scooter, and Gonzo, specifically) before it was decided that it would detract from the ominous effect the spirits would need to convey.[3]
  • This film was dedicated to Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, who both had passed away before the film entered production. Though their characters were carefully recast to other puppeteers, at this point, some of them only made brief and silent appearances. Steve Whitmire had taken over the role of Kermit by this time, and would do so for almost every subsequent Muppet production afterwards. Of Henson's regular characters, Kermit, Waldorf and the Swedish Chef appeared in speaking roles (while Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and Link Hogthrob were relegated to silent background roles). Of Hunt's regular characters, only Statler and Beaker appeared in speaking roles (Janice also silently appeared).
  • Near the end of the film, Scrooge and company pass by a store called "Micklewhite's." Michael Caine's real name is Maurice Micklewhite.
  • This is the first Muppet film not to feature any Sesame Street characters.
  • This film was originally planned to be a TV special.[4]
  • The movie cost $12 million to make and earned $27.5 million in theaters

Soundtrack Edit

The movie, like the three previous Muppet films, was done as a musical. The songs were written by Paul Williams and the score by Miles Goodman. A soundtrack album was released including the film's songs along with instrumental tracks of Goodman's score. In addition, recordings of two unused songs were also included on the album.

Reviews Edit

It's hardly surprising that the Muppets look more comfortable than the humans in this Victorian London heritage ride. It's like a department-store Xmas grotto after lights-out with the toys taking over and sending up the tawdriness of the whole thing simply by indulging their cynicism and sentimentality, while Michael Caine's Scrooge wanders round like a disgusted caretaker. The film's best joke is its ongoing symposium on the problems of narration, between "Dickens" (The Great Gonzo, neither bird nor beast but a misbegotten bendy-nosed thing) and his skeptical stooge Rizzo the Rat. They have to keep climbing walls and hitching lasso rides to get the story told.”
 

—Jonathan Romney. The New Statesman December-January1993 issue, p. 60

“...There's a sense that the film-makers, overawed by their classic source, are reining back the anarchic exuberance on which the Muppets' appeal always rested. Cult acts like Fozzie Bear (Fozziwig) and Miss Piggy (Miss [sic] Cratchit) are seriously constrained by their Dickensian characters -- although at least the long-delayed union between Kermit and Miss Piggy, celebrated in The Muppets Take Manhattan, has finally borne fruit (two female pigs and two male frogs --- the opportunity for a pog, or even a frig, has sadly been passed up)... All the same, The Muppet Christmas Carol achieves the odd genuinely chilling moment, along with a lot of fun. The sets are detailed and charming, there are the usual lively, instantly forgettable songs, and several favourites (the Swedish Chef, Rowlf) show up in cheerful cameos. As lead guest human, Michael Caine makes a respectable stab at Scrooge, but never for a moment challenges the memory of Alistair Sim.”
 

—Philip Kemp. Sight and Sound, February 1993.

Cast Edit

  • Muppet Performers
    Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, David Rudman, Louise Gold, Karen Prell, Mike Quinn, Robert Tygner, Donald Austen, William Todd Jones, Jessica Fox, David Shaw Parker, David Alan Barclay, Robbie Barnett, Ian Allen, James Barton, Joan Barton, Michael Bayliss, Simon Buckley, Dave Bulbeck, Marcus Clarke, Craig Crane, Sue Dacre, Taylor David, John Eccleston, Geoff Felix, Kate Frost, Ken Haines, Ronnie LeDrew, Christopher Leith, Anthony Lymboura, Rebecca Nagan, Angie Passmore, Peter Passmore, Nigel Plaskitt, Judy Preece, Sally Preisig, Peter Robbins, Gillie Robic, Tim Rose, Kaefan Shaw, David Showler, John Thirtle, Ian Thom, Mark Alexander Todd, Ian Tregonning, Simon Williamson, Victoria Willing, and Phil Woodfine
    • Human Cast
  • Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge
    Steven Mackintosh as Fred
    Meredith Braun as Belle
    Robin Weaver as Clara
    Raymond Coulthard as Young Scrooge (Adult)
    Russell Martin as Young Scrooge (Adolescent)
    Theo Sanders as Young Scrooge (Child)
    Kristopher Milnes as Young Scrooge (Child)
    Edward Sanders as Young Scrooge (Child)
    Anthony Hamblin as Boy #1
    Fergus Brazier as Boy #2

Muppet Cast Edit

  • Muppet Characters
    Gonzo as Charles Dickens
    Rizzo the Rat as himself
    Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit
    Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit
    Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim Cratchit
    Statler as Jacob Marley
    Waldorf as Robert Marley
    Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig
    Emily Bear as Ma Fozziwig
    Betina Cratchit
    Belinda Cratchit
    Peter Cratchit
    Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker
    Sam the Eagle
    Bean Bunny
    Ghost of Christmas Past
    Ghost of Christmas Present
    Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
    Lenny the Lizard as Elf
    Male Koozebanian Creature as Santa Claus
    Female Koozebanian Creature as Mrs. Claus
    Baby Koozebanian Creatures as Elves
    Koozebanian Phoob as the Evil Koozebanian
    Afghan Hound
    Baskerville the Hound
    Muppy
    Rufus the Dog
    Dwayne
    Jim the Dog
    Frank the Dog
    Hilda
    Bill
    Gil
    Jill
    Gobo Fraggle
    Wembley Fraggle
    Red Fraggle
    Mokey Fraggle
    Boober Fraggle
    Uncle Traveling Matt
    Large Marvin Fraggle
    Feenie Fraggle
    Marlon Fraggle
    Morris Fraggle
    Rumple Fraggle
    Tosh Fraggle
    Lou Fraggle
    Gillis Fraggle
    Storyteller Fraggle
    Convincing John
    Dimpley Fraggle
    Noble Fraggle
    Rock Hockey Hannah
    Cantus the Minstrel
    Brio the Minstrel
    Balsam the Minstrel
    Poison Cackler
    Blustering Bellowpane Monster
    Beastie
    Baby Tree Creature
    Mama Tree Creature
    Papa Tree Creature
    Fraggles
    Mildred Huxtetter
    Kangaroo
    Miss Mousey
    Clyde
    Harvey
    Mel
    Duke
    Doris
    Shirley
    Shakey Sanchez
    King Ploobis
    Queen Peuta
    Scred
    Vazh
    Wisss
    Eilot Shag
    Artie Springer
    Bruno
    Bowser
    Ms. Fluffé
    Purple Lothar
    Sundance
    Prairie Dogs
    Woodland Animals
    Other Characters
    Alice Otter
    Yancy Woodchuck
    Chuck Stoat
    George and Melissa Rabbit
    Harrison Fox
    Gretchen Fox
    James Badger
    Shirley and Nat Muskrat
    Charlie Muskrat
    Harvey Beaver
    Will Possum
    Howard Snake
    Fred Lizard
    Catfish
    • Other Characters
      The Swedish Chef, Animal, Droop, Lew Zealand, George the Janitor, Mr. Applegate, Old Joe, Mrs. Dilber, Undertaker, Laundress, Rats, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Wander McMooch, Brool the Minstrel, Aretha, Penguins, Inkspots, Pigs, Vegetables, Horses, Boppity Frackle, Cats, Pigeons, Porcupine, Mr. Bitte, Beggar, Wayne and Wanda, Sweetums, The Mutations, Doglion, Timmy Monster, Mean Mama, Thog, Bossmen, Fletcher Bird, The Clodhoppers, Anthony, Fern, Flute-Snatcher, Beautiful Day Monster, Luncheon Counter Monster, Flower-Eating Monster, Thig, Snake Frackle, Gloat Frackle, Pink Frackle, Purple Frackle, Long-Beaked Frackle, Green-furred Frackle, Miss Kitty, Yolanda Rat, Jacques Roach, Hypocritic Oaf
    • Background Characters
      Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, Rowlf, Lips, Sprocket, J.P. Grosse, Pops, Lyle the Dog, Chester Rat, Masterson Rat, Montague, Tatooey Rat, Murray the Minstrel, Begoony, Mudwell the Mudbunny, Snowman, Mrs. Appleby, Wolf, Bobby Benson, Vegetable Seller/Prisoner, Dogs, Link Hogthrob, Punch and Judy Puppets, Mouse Family, Richmond the Horse, Babies, Geri and the Atrics, Frackles, Cashboxes and Locks, Whatnots, Christmas Turkey, Louise (chicken), Lobsters, Raccoons, Chickens, Frogs, Wolfhound, Cows, Sheep, Mr. Curly Twirly, Deer, Abe and Bernice, Umbrellas, Umbrella Stand, Wigs, Opossum, Beaver, Fox, Skunk, Bird Dancers, Bats, Brown Dog, Scooter, Chip, Zondra, Vicki, Ubu, Flash, Soild Foam Drummer, Wild Irish Rose, Connie Sevens Muppet, Sexy Muppet

Additional Credits Edit

  • Executive Producer: Frank Oz
  • Producers: Martin G. Baker and Brian Henson
  • Co-producer: Jerry Juhl
  • Production Designer: Val Strazovec
  • Director Of Photography: John Fenner
  • Costume Designer: Polly Smith
  • Choreographer: Pat Garrett
  • Puppet Coordinators: Mike Quinn, Karen Prell, and Rob Tygner
  • Muppet Workshop:
  • Project Supervisor: Mark Zeszotek
  • Assistant Supervisor: Peter MacKennan
  • Creative Supervisor: Tim Miller
  • Design Consultant: Michael K. Frith
  • Muppet Costume Supervisor: Connie Peterson
  • Muppet Stunt Coordinator: Fred Buchholz
  • Fabric Dying and Painting: Jason Weber
  • Muppet Electro Mechanical Effects: Larry Jameson(supervisor), Tom Newby, Tim Rose, Chris Barton
  • Designers and Builders: Rollie Krewson, Peter MacKennan, Tom Newby, Mark Zeszotek, Paul Andrejco, Abigail Belknap, Isabelle Dufour, Henri Ewaskio, Jon Gellman, Paul Hartis, Laurent Linn, Michael Wick, Heather Asch, Mary Brehmer, Edward G. Christie, Patty Farr, Jim Glavan, Jim Hammer, Anne Timinelli, Jean-Guy White
  • Muppet Costumes: Stephen Rotondaro, Barbara S. Davis, Carol Spier, Carmel Dundon, Victoria Ellis, Muriel Stockdale, Lisa Boquist, Carol Craddock, Liz McGarrity
  • Jim Henson's Creature Shop
  • Creative Supervisor: John Stephenson
  • Production Supervisor: William Plant
  • Ghost of Christmas Past Designer: Kevin O'Boyle
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