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Why is the best part of ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ still missing?

It’s a Christmas classic but arguably one of the most memorable moments of The Muppet Christmas Carol has been cut from the version we see on TV. Director Brian Henson explains where ‘When Love Is Gone’ went and what he’s doing to try and get it back

Originally released in 1992, The Muppet Christmas Carol has slowly but surely become one of the most-loved Christmas films, and Michael Caine the definitive screen Scrooge.

For many around the world, it doesn’t truly feel like Christmas until the Muppets’ take on the Dickens tale is rewatched with friends and family. But there is a key part missing from the version that shows in cinemas and on TV that fans feel the absence of.

When Scrooge is taken back to Christmas pasts, he sees his younger self with his fiancé Belle and remembers the Christmas they broke up because he was too focussed on his career. This scene is then followed by Belle singing about “A time when I was sure that you and I were truly one, that our future was forever and would never come undone…” It’s a heartbreaking song and a highlight in an amazing soundtrack. But pressure from the studio meant the song was cut, and has yet to be properly restored.

But while fans remain frustrated about this omission, it should be some comfort that director Brian Henson (son of Muppets creator Jim) hasn’t let the issue drop.

While promoting his film The Happytime Murders,  The Big Issue asked about where When Love Is Gone went.

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“I’m not allowed to tell you that,” Henson said. “But I think I have said it in public so I’ll go ahead and tell you too.

“It’s because Disney lost the negative. I made the movie with When Love Is Gone in it and then I removed it for the theatrical release – because the studio wanted the movie shorter – with the agreement that I would put it back in again for the video release.

I call them like every month to ask if they’re still looking

“We made a video master with When Love Is Gone then we cut it out, spliced the negative, for the theatrical release. But in the process they lost the video master and they still have not been able to find the negative.”

This means that VHS copies of the film had the song, but when DVDs were invented only the cinematic master was available so it really is gone in all subsequent versions of the film.

“When we tried cutting it in to the Blu-ray movie it looked terrible because you could tell we’d cut from high resolution to the original video release,” Henson added. “I’m still pressuring them to find it. They keep swearing to me that there is no way it has been lost forever, and I keep saying, ‘but it’s been 20 years!’

“They’re still searching. I call them like every month to ask if they’re still looking. One of these days they’ll find it.”

That’s something to look forward to in Christmas yet to come. But until then, here is a version from YouTube…

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