Chuck Jones' 1971 animated version of "A Christmas Carol"

A Christmas Carol (1971) is a 25-minute animated cartoon adaptation of Charles Dickens' book which was originally shown on Dec 21, 1971 on ABC television in the United States.

Originally produced for television in 1971, A Christmas Carol was recognised for it's excellence and nominated for an Academy Award... but there was a problem. Only films shown theatrically were eligible. So, the short was released briefly in theaters to make it eligible! It went on to actually win an Academy Award for best animated short subject in 1973; it remains the only film adaptation of the story to date to be so honored. However, some industry insiders were unhappy that a short originally shown on TV was awarded the Academy Award, which led to the Academy changing its policy, disqualifying any shorts that were shown on television first. This adaptation has a distinctive look, created by multiple pans and zooms and excellent scene transitions. It also was largely inspired by John Leech's illustrations for the original edition of the novel "A Christmas Carol."

Alastair Sim, Michael Hordern and Mervyn Johns reprise their roles as Scrooge, Marley and Bob Crachit from the classic British film version of A Christmas Carol.

Director Richard Williams, previously known for his stylized animated movie titles and TV commercials, went to work for animation studio owner Chuck Jones with the understanding that the film should be, as the subtitle says, "A Ghost Story of Christmas." And a ghost story it is; one of the reasons that the TV network stopped running it several years after its debut was because it was deemed too frightening for children.

Jacob Marley lays on the horror in a jaw-dropping scene!

The dark and atmospheric scenes make it perhaps the scariest adaptation ever made! Many kids that saw it have not only fond memories of it, but also relate how frightening some of it was to them. Which is how it should be in any effort that tries to remain faithful to the original story.

Richard also wanted the drawings to reflect the look of the John Leech drawings from the original publication of the book, and the film seems at times to be Leech's pen-and-ink drawings come to life. More an exercise in artistic expression than a typical cartoon, the film has a dynamic and energetic motion invested in nearly every frame. The camera swoops and zooms, combined with the unique artwork and backgrounds, make it a wonderful viewing experience.

Here are some screengrabs from the film that enable you to see the great artwork and character designs.

The cover art of the WHS video release:

To date, it has only been released on VHS video (which are now going for over $200 on Ebay). Hopefully, this classic short feature will soon be released on DVD for those who remember it, and for a whole new legion of fans!

Listen to the audio portion of the film!

Click here to listen to an MP3 recording of the entire film's audio soundtrack! You will enjoy hearing Sim and the others in this quality production.

Marley's Ghost
The First of the Three Spirits
The Second of the Three Spirits
The Last of the Spirits
The End of It
A Christmas Dinner
A Christmas Present
1939 Radio Broadcast
Other Radio Broadcasts

Related Links:

Extra items and pages that are part of this site:

Christmas Essays by Dickens

"Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which cast no gloomy shadow!"
-Charles Dickens

So writes Charles Dickens concerning a tradition that even in his day was precious. Enjoy his story, "The Christmas Tree," as he recollects the joy it brought to his youth!

"Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the honest interchange of affectionate attachment, which abound at this season of the year? A Christmas family-party! We know nothing in nature more delightful! There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas."
-Charles Dickens

The family seated around the Christmas dinner table is a treasured time that becomes forever etched in our hearts. Enjoy Dicken's story, "A Christmas Dinner," as he relates the joys it brings.

"Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard you! You shall hold your cherished places in our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas fires; and in the season of immortal hope, and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we will shut out Nothing!"
-Charles Dickens

In his short story, "What Christmas Is As We Grow Older," Dickens encourages us to not forget the past joys and loves we have known, in order to shut out the pain of loss. Rather, we defeat the loss by celebrating the memories of times and people once close to us.

"My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him." -Charles Dickens

Dickens never forgot the Source of the holiday cheer he spread with his writings, or the meaning of the silent night in Bethlehem so long ago. In this excerpt from his private story written for his children, "The Life of Our Lord," Dickens explains simply in his own words "The Christmas Story."

Radio and Film Versions

Information about the
1951 version with Alastair Sim, with photos, comparisons to the novel and excerpts from the soundtrack.

Information about the
1939 radio version produced by Orson Welles and starring Lionel Barrymore.

Information about the
BBC radio version starring Michael Gough.Also the 1975 CBS Radio Mystery Theater version starring E.G. Marshall!

Information about
Disney's "A Christmas Carol" short animated feature

Information about "Scrooge," the
1970 musical version starring Albert Finney

Information about the
Muppet's Christmas Carol

Information about the
upcoming 2009 CG version starring Jim Carrey.

Information about Rich Little's one-man version of
"A Christmas Carol."


Information about the
1971 Chuck Jones animated film featuring Alastair Sim as the voice of Scrooge!


Information about Patrick Stewart's one-man performance of the book, as well as his 1999 movie adaptation.


Complete scan of "A Christmas Carol"
comic book adaptation from the 70's by Marvel Comics!

Enjoy scenes from the story in these
antique illustrations!

Classics Illustrated "A Christmas Carol"
cover #1.

Classics Illustrated "A Christmas Carol"
cover #2.

Pendulum's Illustrated Stories "A Christmas Carol"

A Dean Morrissey
painting of Scrooge outside his London business. The print can be bought here.

Montage of
scenes from the novel by artist Jeffrey Bedrick made for a puzzle, which can be bought here.

Other resources outside of this site:

Read the story behind of the writing of this most-loved Christmas story here, as originally published in Reader's Digest.

Christmas According to Dickens: A series of articles by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.

Dickens and Christmas: an excellent site!

View an incredible table-top reproduction of Dicken's London on this page.

In an essay on his favorite Christmas videos, columnist C. W. Oberleitner examines the best adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" on film.

Alastair Sim's film as viewed through the eyes of a horror movie fan: A Very Scary Christmas!

Here is a YouTube link to a series of posted videos from the film. Part One is posted here for your enjoyment!

Full Crew List:

Richard Williams - Director
Chuck Jones - Producer (executive producer)
Michael Crane - Editor
Tristram Cary - Composer
Charles Dickens - Writer
Richard Williams - Producer (producer)
Ben Rayner - Editor

Cast: (actors reprising their roles from the 1951 live action are in bold)

Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge
Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit
Paul Whitsun-Jones as Ragpicker/Fezziwig
Diana Quick as Ghost of Christmas Past
Annie West as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Michael Redgrave as Narrator
Michael Hordern as Marley's Ghost
Joan Sims as Mrs. Cratchit
David Tate as Scrooge's Nephew/Charity Man
Felix Felton as Ghost of Christmas Present
Mary Ellen Ray as Mrs. Dilber

Introduction /Marley's Ghost / The First of the Three Spirits / The Second of the Three Spirits
The Last of the Spirits / The End of It / A Christmas Dinner /A Christmas Present /1939 Radio Broadcast