Movie Adaptations and Benevolent Narrators: God Bless Them, Every One

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"Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.  I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of iron-mongery in the trade" (Dickens 9).

I'm a fan of the benevolent narrator, and it always excites me to read a story where we have one guiding us through a plot.  Part of why I enjoy it is that it adds a new layer to the story, and it provides new opportunities for humor, like we just see above when the narrator wonders why a door-nail is deader than any other nail.  When there's a benevolent narrator, the author gets a chance to direclty address reader concerns the way he/she couldn't straight-forwardly do if the pov was different.  The asides throughout A Christmas Carol are enjoyable, and made the well-worn story slightly newer. 

Well, that was my "hallo, whoop hallo" for the benevolent narrator.

I was surprised that, first of all, that the story was so short (yeah, this was the first time I've read it, sorry), and second of all, that out of all of the adaptations I've seen, many have actually been fairly accurate representations of the novel.  I'm not saying there's not a lot going on throughout this story, but the plot is not one that major storylines need to be dropped in order to make it a watchable movie.  Has anyone ever seen an adaptation of A Christmas Carol that has been waaaay off the mark?  Just curious. 

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5 Comments

The dead as a doornail quote was one I almost used for my blog. That paragraph reminds me so much of my own thinking process. As I'm sure you've realized, but I'm quite the rambler when I'm telling a story. If I said something like "dead as a doornail," I would then have to explain that I really know nothing about the living state of doornails before I could continue with the story. I'm sure that gets annoying for the listener, but that's how I roll. Maybe that's why I never got bored or lost reading Dickens in high school while most of my peers hated him. He's like my nineteenth century brain twin, pre-my Jess.

Okay so I said all that without reading your actual blog; I just read the quote. Now that I'm reading it, I feel all cool because I'm like a benevolent narrator when I tell stories.

All the adaptations I've seen have been mostly accurate. I think the Disney animated version tried to emphasize individual responsibility a bit more, just because that's what Disney does: stress morals. Other than that, they've all been spot on.

Josie Rush said:

Lol. I'm the same way when I tell stories. I think a lot of people are to a certain point, and that's why this type of narration works well for people. Though, those who hate it are probably the people most often saying, "Get to the point already" when we benevolent narrators are trying to weave a tale for them. There needs to be a certain amount of patience in the reader when being guided through a story by this type of narrator. That's not saying if someone isn't a fan of the benevolent narrator, he/she is impatient, but it is saying that there are times in the story when some kind of action is taking place, and it's necessary to wade through some extra observations from the narrator before the reader knows what's going on.

Aja Hannah said:

This is also my first time reading the story so don't feel bad.

I've seen a few differences within the Christmas Carol like not knowing Tiny Tim doesn't live until Christmas Future, but really all the adaptations are really accurate. Perhaps because the story is so short.

One of the things I do miss about the movies though is the benevolent narrator.

Josie Rush said:

Aja, I love the benevolent narrator. I thought he was especially funny in explaining the "dead as a doornail" expression. It's almost like Dickens was making fun of himself/the language he chose to use a little, and you've gotta love a guy who can laugh at himself.

Aja Hannah said:

Is it weird that I don't think of Dickens as the narrator? I think of another nicer character speaking? Like one of those guys you see in a movie, who narrates the whole time and then at the end he tips his hat and walks off. Like in those Easter or Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph cartoons.

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