Shiny Shelf

SHINY ADVENT: Mickey’s Christmas Carol

By Jon de Burgh Miller on 13 December 2006

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

While there have been many adaptations of the Dickens classic over the years, few capture the heart of the tale and convey it with such lean brevity as this 1983 Disney offering. Like a cast Christmas play, this takes the main beats of the story and plays it out with a cast of Silly Symphonies regulars, including Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchett, Goofy as Jacob Marley, and – in his first animated appearance outside of a Mickey Mouse Club insert – Scrooge McDuck as, erm, Scrooge. Supported by cameos from characters from films such as ‘Mr Toad’, ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘Pinocchio’, this was something of a ‘Who’s Who?’ for animation lovers and the first step to self-indulgence/awareness that would eventually lead to the massive ego-battle that was ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.

In light of later developments in animation it’s fascinating to watch ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’. It was the first high-profile Disney outing for many of today’s big names in animation, such as Don Hahn, John Lasseter and Andreas Deja. Though they may have been young, their talent shines through here as the animation is of a far higher quality than anything the studio had produced in the preceeding few years, a sign that it wouldn’t be long before Disney animation truly found its feet again.

The voice acting is superb, with the actors clearly relishing the material. Alan Young is especially notable, stealing the show as Scrooge. The dialogue is short, to the point, and as much of the story is conveyed with actions as words, as all the best animation should. This is all the more impressive considering that this was an adaptation of an audio-only vinyl-record, a sign of the director’s ambition and lack of laziness.

While at heart not a particularly humorous story, ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ is crammed with plenty of visual gags that retain the spirit of Disney shorts from the 30s and 40s, while never undermining the material. If there is one flaw in this interpretation it’s that Scrooge never appears too mean, even from the beginning being vaguely likeable. Although this does make his conversion at the end far more plausible given the short space of time the story is told in, you only have to look at the old Carl Barks comic strips to see a vicious, truly nasty Scrooge, who no doubt would have given the animators so much more to play with had they dared to push his nastiness further.

With some fun sight gags, a tight script and great voice acting, ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ is a padding-free 25 minute festive treat for the whole family that does exactly what you imagine it would. It hasn’t even dated much and stands up just as well today as it did twenty-three years ago.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol is tucked away on the ‘Mickey Mouse in Living Colour, Part 2′ DVD, part of the Walt Disney Treasures series, available from

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By Jon de Burgh Miller

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