michael caine as scrooge with the muppets

Disney to Return Lost Song to The Muppet Christmas Carol

Which was alredy the best version of the story.
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It is a well-known and accepted fact that the best version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the 1992 cinematic masterpiece, The Muppet Christmas Carol, starring Michael Caine. Not only is the film impeccably made and incredibly true to the original novella (portions of the text are used word for word in some scenes!) but it also brought in new elements like songs and, yes, puppets, that made the classic tale fun and accessible.

I was excited to rewatch this movie for the first time in a while with my family last weekend since it was, like all the Muppet content, easily available on Disney+! But lo and behold, the version of the movie available on the streamer wasn’t the one I remembered from Disney channel reruns in the ’90s. It was missing the ballad “When Love is Gone.”

The Muppet Christmas Carol had a hard journey to screens. It was the first Muppet film made without Jim Henson, and it didn’t do terribly well at the box office. But it thrived in its subsequent second life on video and in reruns on the Disney channel. And the version of the movie we all loved as kids actually wasn’t the one we saw in theaters. Thinking it was too boring for the target audience of little kids, the studios had cut “When Love Is Gone.”

Now, I’m actually a bit inclined to agree here. As a kid, the long, slow, sad song was always when my attention drifted, but it’s also a big emotional turning point in the movie and important to Scrooge’s character journey in a lot of ways. And it’s part of the movie as we know it. People love the song and also want as much of smokin’ hot young Scrooge as possible. But it only exists in the VHS version, and apparently, whatever they broadcast on the Disney Channel back in the day.

Disney for their part wanted to include the song in subsequent releases of the film, but it turned out they couldn’t because they had lost the video master negative of the film with the song intact. That’s why it’s not on the DVD versions and why it wasn’t on Disney+: they just couldn’t find the master film to digitize in a way that matched the rest of the movie.

But lo and behold, in an interview with the BBC this week, Brian Henson shared that the new 4k version of the film has the song! Disney found the negative and even better, they surprised him with the complete version of the movie when he screened it!

“They actually hid it,” Henson told the BBC, “so I went down and they said: ‘But before we show it to you, we’ve got something else we want to show you’. And they put up reel four of Christmas Carol with When Love Is Gone … I was like, ‘No, you did not!’ and they said, ‘Yes we did! We found it!’ I was so happy, I was so happy.”

While the full version will soon be available on BluRay, it’s not clear when or if they will update the version on Disney+. I hope it is, just for the sake of the many many people that love the song and want to see the full and complete version of the movie we all love so much. No matter what, the full-length version is coming back and that’s a pretty great present for fans, and for Brian Henson.

(via: The BBC, image: Disney)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.