It’s a story you’ve heard thousands of times. You’ve seen it acted out by Alastair Sims, Michael Caine, Jim Carrey, and Bill Murray. By Mr. Magoo, Flintstones, Muppets, Smurfs and ducks. You’re probably sick of it.
But there’s one awesome version that you’ve probably never seen. I watched the movie at least a dozen times before I even realized what I was seeing.
Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out The Dead may be about a paramedic in New York City on the surface, but take another look and it’s a stealth gritty reboot of A Christmas Carol.
But let’s look at the facts.
It’s Christmas. Nic Cage has given up on life.
He’s been seeing ghosts.
A ghost from Frank’s past has come to blame him for her death.
And after seeing her, he has three partners in three nights.
The first partner is someone from his past. The man he rode with in better times, when he was saving lives. The man he rode with when the ghost, Rose, died. The death that set Cage into his current miserable streak of losing his patients.
The second partner is someone who urges him to live in the present. A man who lives for the moment, and enjoys everything… even if it’s a sea of pain and suffering, or a horrifying accident. (or the supposed virgin birth they witness that mixes up which classic Christmas story we’re aping here)
The third partner represents the horrible future Nic Cage has in store for him if he doesn’t turn it around. A man who goes beyond not helping people, but actively hurting them.
Nic Cage is trying to help people, but along the way he got greedy, and made it all about him. This movie’s version of Bob Cratchit is a man Nic Cage is forcing to stay artificially alive against his wishes just so that Nic Cage can feel better about himself.
Along the way Nic Cage keeps coming across and influencing the path of a mentally disabled man that had been like a son to the Cratchit character- with the only possible name more Christmassy than Tiny Tim, Noel.
In the end, Cage learns to let go of his own ego and let go of the people who are ready to go, and help those who are ready to live to live. He’s ready to live again. He makes peace with his ghosts, and he’s no longer alone.
★★★★★ I’m sick to death of he endless parade of A Christmas Carol remakes, but I never get sick of Martin Scorsese’s A Christm-er, sorry. Bringing Out The Dead.