Along with Sims wonderful portrait of Scrooge, I think this version of the "Carol" does a great job of capturing both the light and dark side of Dickenss original story. It is warm and charming in all the right places and, thanks to Sim, frequently very funny. But it also never shirks its responsibility in dealing with the serious social criticism that was such an important part of Dickenss vision; at times it is a very dark film and that is exactly what Dickens had in mind. Earlier versions the 1938 MGM production certainly comes to mind tended to whitewash the storys social criticism; in this context, I think the Sim version was very much a landmark effort in that it was arguably the first truly serious attempt to film the story as Dickens wrote it.
Dickens blames the huge class stratification of Victorian England on the selfishness of the rich and, implicitly, on the Poor Laws that keep down the underclass. Scrooge is the obvious symbol of the greedy Victorian rich, while the Cratchits represent the working poor. But Dickens goes beyond sentimental portraits and reveals the underbelly of the city, notably in Stave Four. Even in the scene of the thieving workers divvying up the dead Scrooge's possessions, the accountability for their actions is put on Scroogehad he not been such a miser, they would not have resorted to stealing from him. When the children of Ignorance and Want crawl out from under the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present , the ghost sends a message to Scrooge, and the same is given to the Victorian reader: to help out those in Want, and beware of Ignorance in oneself and others.