Anyone who grew up wearing out their VHS copy of 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol is definitely familiar with “When Love Is Gone,” the regret-tinged duet sung by Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) and his one-time fiancée, Belle (Meredith Braun). If you’ve only ever seen the film on TV or DVD, you might have no idea what we’re talking about.
Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg was worried that kids wouldn’t understand the emotional complexity of the ballad, so he convinced director Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) to cut it from the version of the movie released in theaters. Though it was supposed to make it into other editions of the film, it only ever ended up on the VHS version; by the time DVDs came into play, Disney could only locate the cinematic master, which they used to produce all subsequent releases.
Henson, for his part, never stopped hoping the original master would turn up. “They’re still searching. I call them like every month to ask if they’re still looking,” he told The Big Issue in 2018. “One of these days they’ll find it.”
Now, according to the BBC, they finally have. Knowing how important the hunt was to Henson, the Disney staff decided to surprise him with the news last month during a screening for The Muppet Christmas Carol, remastered in 4K.
“[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,’” Henson revealed on The Muppets at Christmas: It's Time To Play The Music, a BBC radio special airing December 25. “I was like, ‘No, you did not!’ and they said, ‘Yes we did! We found it!’ I was so happy, I was so happy.”
Henson confirmed that Disney plans to release the restored film on Disney+ sometime in the near future, though it’s unclear if it’ll happen in time for a Christmas Day rewatch. In the meantime, you can replay the full scene on YouTube as many times as you want.