THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL marks Brian Henson’s directorial debut and gathers the Muppets – and Michael Caine! – for a magical reimagining of Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic.
AFI Movie Club: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
Watch director Brian Henson talk about making THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL in this exclusive AFI “Behind the Scene” conversation.
DID YOU KNOW? THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL marks the first Muppet movie without Jim Henson, who passed away on May 16,1990. The film is dedicated to his memory – as well as to Richard Hunt, best known for performing many memorable Muppet characters including Scooter, Beaker, Janice, Statler and Sweetums.
DID YOU KNOW? Brian Henson made his directorial debut with THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL at 28-years old. According to Muppet performer Dave Goelz – who played Gonzo and Waldorf – Michael Caine got halfway through production before he discovered it was Henson’s first time directing.
DID YOU KNOW? American comedian George Carlin was considered for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, as were English actors David Hemmings, Ron Moody and David Warner. Ultimately, the role went to two-time Academy Award®-winner Michael Caine.
DID YOU KNOW? The $13-million production marked the first time the Muppets played characters other than themselves.
DID YOU KNOW? THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL was the first of the Muppet movies to use optical effects to digitally erase puppeteers from shots.
DID YOU KNOW? According to director Brian Henson, they originally envisioned the film as a “romping parody.” Robin the Frog was proposed as the ghost of Christmas past, “Miss Piggy was going to be this bacchanalian ghost of Christmas present” and Animal was intended as the ghost of Christmas yet to come.
DID YOU KNOW? Frank Oz – who performed a number of characters in THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – also directed Michael Caine in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS.
DID YOU KNOW? For the film’s theatrical release, the filmmakers cut the song “When Love is Gone,” which was deemed too melancholy for young children. While the song made it onto the VHS version, it was conspicuously absent from DVD releases and – up until this year – the footage was considered lost. Director Brian Henson revealed this month that Disney had finally found the negatives and restored the song in a new 4K version.
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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- How does the Muppet retelling of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” update this classic tale and both parody and pay homage to the original?
- What do you think of the filmmakers’ choice of Muppets for their respective literary counterparts, particularly the decision to cast Gonzo as Dickens himself?
- The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are wildly different. What do you think each was intended to symbolize for Scrooge? Which of the ghosts do you think was the most influential for Scrooge and why?
- How do the Cratchits serve as counterpoints to Scrooge from the beginning? Even when met with hostility and contempt by Scrooge, how does Bob Cratchit remain hopeful and emphasize good works and kindness?
- How does Scrooge evolve over the course of the film? And how does his trajectory embody the Christmas spirit? How is he able to impact the lives of Bob Cratchit and his family, especially Tiny Tim, at the end?
- How did the film capture the spirit of Jim Henson and honor his legacy after his passing?
- How would you rate THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL?
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