The concept of deleted scenes being readily available for almost any movie is one the DVD/Blu-ray releases have conditioned us for. In some cases, entire alternate cuts can grace a disc or Digital set, and fans almost expect this sort of thing to be second nature with definitive home video releases. However, sometimes scenes do get lost, as happened with a crucial musical number from director Brian Henson’s seasonal classic The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Removed from the film for its 1992 release, the sequence I'm about to discuss has had a spotty history of turning up on home video, eventually seeming to have disappeared from the world completely. The recent 4K restoration of The Muppet Christmas Carol changed everything, when Brian Henson was given a surprise. Not only was this “lost” musical number found, but it’s been restored for the next version of the film to be made available. Recalling the history of this song, and why it makes so much sense for it to have been reinstated into the film after all this time, this news is nothing short of a holiday miracle.
What Sequence Was Removed From The Muppet Christmas Carol?
During his visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) is shown one of the most crucial moments from any version of Charles Dickens’ holiday saga. Seeing his younger self callously let the love of his life, the lovely Belle (Meredith Braun), leave him over his miserly ways, she sings the song “When Love Is Gone” and departs. With older Scrooge joining in on the song as a spirit in his own past, it’s a heartbreaking moment that notes his transition into the cold hearted man he was at the start of the story. Also, Michael Caine does a really good job of breaking his own heart through this performance, which only makes The Muppet Christmas Carol work even better as an interpretation of this storied classic.
Wait, Why Would You Cut That Song?
We’ve covered this subject before, but the story about why “When Love Is Gone” was removed is something that’s always worth retelling. The short version is: Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg thought the sequence wouldn’t play well with kids. So when The Muppet Christmas Carol went to theaters, it showed up with a truncated scene that shows Scrooge and Belle’s split, but skips over the song altogether. If you’re one of the audiences members who saw the film first in theaters and have firm memories of that version, you wouldn’t have been weirded out. Kids that grew up with the home video version, on the other hand, have always had a bone to pick with this moment’s absence.
The Shadows Of Muppet Christmas Carol Past Show Up On Home Video
Through the insistence of Brian Henson, The Muppet Christmas Carol would be seen in its unaltered form on VHS and Laserdisc, and eventually on the initial DVD release of the film. This led to a ton of Muppet fans young and old getting a chance to become cozy with “When Love Is Gone.” Restored in the film, the song was able to fully flesh out its counterpart, the closing number “When Love Is Found,” which sees Scrooge as a changed man, singing with those he now calls family. Surely, this was the end of the story, and “When Love Is Gone” would never disappear from print again? Well...
When Love Is Gone Disappears Again
Yeah, walked right into that one, didn’t we? A huge problem with keeping “When Love Is Gone” in the picture was the fact that it was supposedly lost to time after its first initial home video run. The negative had disappeared, which means the fact that this scene even appeared on the first DVD pressings was a miracle. A compromised miracle, as it would only be shown on the Full Screen DVD version of the film, but a miracle nonetheless. By time the Blu-ray version came around though, the disappearance of the full version of The Muppet Christmas Carol was complete. “When Love Is Gone” was nowhere to be found (except as a bonus feature thrown in with the Disney+ version of the film). However, one final miracle clenched the deal, and made history in one of the best ways possible.
The Muppet Christmas Carol Is Finally Whole
Even Brian Henson couldn’t believe the studio's good fortune after “When Love Is Gone” was again found. Though the Muppets are owned outright by Disney, Henson still has dealings with the studio, such as the recent Muppet-free talk show Earth To Ned. So naturally, he’d be involved in the new 4K remaster that’s being done on The Muppet Christmas Carol, and it’s through those efforts that Brian Henson received the best Christmas present ever. Revealing the news to the BBC a couple of weeks ago, Henson told that story as follows:
I was so excited. They actually hid it... 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.
After almost 30 years of complicated history, studio notes, and disappearing negatives, The Muppet Christmas Carol is now ready to be seen in its complete form. So the next question is, when will we get to see this masterpiece finally brought back to its former glory? Well, if the team is in the middle of a 4K restoration, there’s a chance that a home video re-release is in the future, which may or may not tie into the 30th anniversary in 2022. As for the Disney+ version of the film, here’s what Brian Henson had to say on the matter:
They are all set with the full-length version again. I don't know if they are going to get it up on Disney Plus in time for Christmas because they have all these processes but it is coming back, the full-length version is coming back.
The bottom line is, we’re going to have to wait for The Muppet Christmas Carol to be fully restored. These sorts of things take time, and it’s not like the 4K remaster can just miracle itself into the Disney+ queue. By comparison though, this wait is nothing, as the hope that seeing “When Love Is Gone” take its place in Disney history is now a reality, and not just a Christmas wish.
When I first came to CinemaBlend, I covered the loss of this song as a holiday feature, hoping that some day all would be made right again. Hearing that we’re closer than ever to getting the true version of The Muppet Christmas Carol is a holiday miracle to me, and surely to everyone who’s ever loved this movie, because it’s an occurrence that feels like it should have never happened. Yet, against all odds, the legacy of this musical tale has endured, and so has the negative for “When Love Is Gone.” While I’ll still watch the theatrical version of the film on Disney+, as well as the separately included scene, I’ll do so with a thankful heart, all thanks to this joyous news that just proves we could always use a little fresh Muppet magic.