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A Christmas Carol is a 1908 silent film produced by Essanay Studios in Chicago, and the first American film adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novella of the same name. Tom Ricketts stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in the film, which is considered lost.

A Christmas Carol
Written byCharles Dickens (story)
Based onA Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
StarringThomas Ricketts
Distributed byEssanay Studios
Release date
  • December 9, 1908 (1908-12-09)
Running time
15 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles


No prints of the first American film adaptation of A Christmas Carol are known to exist,[1] but The Moving Picture World magazine provided a scene-by-scene description before the film's release.[2] Scrooge goes into his office and begins working. His nephew, along with three women who wish for Scrooge to donate enter. However, Scrooge dismisses them. On the night of Christmas Eve, his long-dead partner Jacob Marley comes as a ghost, warning him of a horrible fate if he does not change his ways. Scrooge meets three spirits that show Scrooge the real meaning of Christmas, along with his grave, the result of his parsimonious ways. The next morning, he wakes and realizes the error of his ways. Scrooge was then euphoric and generous for the rest of his life.



A Christmas Carol was produced by the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company and released December 9, 1908.[3]


"It is impossible to praise this film too highly", wrote The Moving Picture World magazine. "It reproduces the story as closely as it is possible to do in a film and the technical excellence of the work cannot be questioned. The photography, the staging and the acting are all of the best, and the story told is always impressive. … Such films cannot be too highly commended. They are a welcome relief from the riot of bloodshed which has marred the moving picture shows of New York and other cities far too long. Even though it costs a fortune almost to prepare such a film, it is quite likely that the public will patronize it sufficiently to make good the extraordinary outlay."[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guida, Fred (2000). A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 70. ISBN 9780786407385.
  2. ^ "Stories of the Films". The Moving Picture World. December 5, 1908. pp. 458–459. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  3. ^ a b "A Christmas Carol". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  4. ^ Smith, Michael Glover; Selzer, Adam (2015). Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780786407385.
  5. ^ "Comments on Film Subjects". The Moving Picture World. January 2, 1909. p. 11. Retrieved 2016-02-06.

External linksEdit