For many Muppets fans watching The Muppet Christmas Carol is an annual holiday tradition. The joy found in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol will be even more joyful in the future. This is due to the discovery of what was thought to be a lost song that will be re-added for its 4K release.
The song, When Love is Gone, was cut from the film for its theatrical release. This was done out of concern for how the song would connect with young audiences. It was put back into the film on VHS but a master for the theatrical version was lost… or so was thought. As the years went by, both director Brian Henson and Disney wanted to restore the song to the movie but the footage needed was lost.
“They always say, ‘It’ll show up. Negatives never permanently get lost, they just get put in the wrong place,’” said Brian Henson (son Jim Henson). “For years and years, I’d call them every six months and see how they were doing. And they actually even put together a team and a little budget to try to find it, and they still couldn’t.”
Then things changed. In an interview with the BBC, Henson revealed that he was called by Disney and asked to take a look at a new 4K release of the film. Once there, he was surprised to learn that original tapes for the song had been found and re-inserted into the movie. The whole thing was done without Henson’s knowledge.
“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,’” Henson said. “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.”
“They are all set with the full-length version again,” Henson shared. “I don’t know if they are going to get it up on Disney+ in time for Christmas because they have all these processes, but it is coming back, the full-length version is coming back.”
Disney has not commented on this story at this time.
When Love is Gone is sung by a young Scrooge’s love interest named Belle (Meredith Braun). The song is sung when Belle realizes that Scrooge no longer loves her and instead is obsessed with his treasure. Although the song was a highly emotional point in the film, it was removed after it didn’t test well with kids. The negative tests prompted Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg to request its removal.
“[Katzenberg] never forced me to do anything, but he said, ‘Do you see how antsy those kids are getting?’” Henson told EW. “He’s like, ‘It’s just a little too adult-emotional for little kids to stay connected.’ [The movie] certainly plays well without the song, but I obviously preferred having the song in. I think it’s good for kids to be pulled into deeply emotional moments, even if they feel slightly awkward about it when they’re in a movie theater.”
The Muppet Christmas Carol currently is streaming on Disney+, without When Love is Gone. However, the song in its original unrestored format is available as a bonus feature. It is unknown when or where the 4k version of the film will be released. It is also unknown if this will be on Disney+.