The most beloved films of Christmas are about redemption, often set against a backdrop of banking, real estate and commercialism.
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After the trouble of 2008, holiday favourites such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street probably will be seen in a whole new light this holiday season.
Hollywood isn’t always content to let the audience do the re-imagining, however. Producers might want to create their own remakes, tinkering with the originals to frame them more appropriately for the current era.
Breakingviews imagined how five of the most popular Christmas classics might be storyboarded to reflect the credit crunch.
A Christmas Carol: After visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Ebenezer Scrooge decides to change his life, as in the original. But, bah humbug, the miserly lender finds himself the victim of a series of margin calls, and must lay off Bob Cratchit. Because no one likes a sad ending, a fiscal stimulus package ensures Cratchit gets a public works job and can avoid eviction.
Tiny Tim’s final refrain is tweaked to: “God bless us, every one, except the greedy ones who got us into this mess. You know who you are.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: Reworked as an allegory of modern finance, the Grinch becomes a composite of Jimmy Cayne, Jerome Kerviel and Fred Goodwin.
The green one with the gunk-filled soul gets the “wonderful, awful idea” of stopping the holiday from coming for the Whos of Whoville—not by robbing them of their Christmas trappings, but by dazzling them with promises of sure-fire high returns—and then snatching their houses and retirement money. It works wonders, but even material losses of that scale can’t dent the spirit of the Whos. Overcome, the Grinch returns years of bonuses and allows people to stay in their homes.
Miracle on 34th Street: After hiring Kris Kringle to be its in-store Santa, Macy’s files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because it is unable to restructure the debt loaded on in its leveraged buy out. Kringle goes to work at Wal-Mart instead.
A psychological profile gets him committed. Fred Gailey persuades the court of Kringle’s true identity by arguing that if people could believe that Bernard Madoff’s returns were real, surely they can believe in Santa Claus.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Charlie Brown is delighted that Snoopy and Lucy can’t afford to indulge in their obsessions with gifts and ornaments. Charlie himself doesn’t have the funds to buy even a pathetic little tree for the pageant, so he must settle for one made of cardboard.
Even though there are no shopping distractions this time around, the gang is so disgusted with Charlie’s poverty that they boycott the pageant. Instead they join their parents in a “Make bankruptcy easy” rally.