Lost Muppet Christmas Carol song found at last, will be restored for future releases
Fans of The Muppet Christmas Carol have a reason to be jolly and joyous this holiday season: The movie's long-lost musical number has been found at last.
The song "When Love Is Gone" has long been present only on the VHS version of the holiday favorite, or as a clip separate from the movie proper. As director Brian Henson previously told EW, he reluctantly cut the song from the film over concerns that young viewers would get antsy during the melancholy ballad. In subsequent years, both he and distributor Disney wanted to put the song back into the movie, but the original footage needed to restore it had been lost.
“They always say, ‘It’ll show up. Negatives never permanently get lost, they just get put in the wrong place,’” said Henson (son of Muppets creator 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.”
However, those efforts have finally proved fruitful. In an interview with the BBC, Henson revealed that Disney had found the footage and re-inserted it into the film. He received a call from the studio asking him to come look at a new 4K version of the movie, without telling him the song had been restored.
"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," he continued. "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."
Representatives for Disney did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
"When Love Is Gone" is sung by Belle (Meredith Braun), the fiancée of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), as she realizes he no longer loves her. Although a key emotional moment in the story, the song did not play well with kids in test screenings, prompting then-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 is currently streaming on Disney+, with an un-restored version of "When Love Is Gone" available as a bonus feature.