The First Film Adaptation of A Christmas Carol (1901)
As an appendix to our previous post on the interesting history of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, here is a link to a Youtube video containing the first known film adaptation of Dickens’s classic story. Directed by Walter R. Booth, the British-produced film was only a short piece, and the only surviving footage we have is incomplete. The film’s title was Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost. Until the 2011 discovery (or rather rediscovery) of a short film from 1900/1 called The Death of Poor Joe (based on the death of the crossing sweeper in Bleak House), this was the oldest known film adaptation of Dickens’s work.
Since the film was made in 1901, it is, of course, a silent film. As a result, a number of intertitles (pieces of filmed printed text edited into the midst of the photographed action of the film) had to be utilised. This was the first time that such intertitles had been used in a film. So, as well as being the first film of A Christmas Carol, and almost the first film adaptation of Dickens’s work, this short piece also has another filmic claim to fame.
Watch out for some state-of-the-art special effects (well, for 1901, anyway), including the chilling appearance of Marley’s face in the door-knocker…
We should add that we do not own the copyright of this video, but that according to the BFI this footage ‘can be accessed by anyone within the UK under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence‘. We hope you enjoy the film, and Merry Christmas!