If you’ve ever enjoyed the story A Christmas Carol, I predict you will love this holiday release of The Man Who Invented Christmas. Based on the life of Charles Dickens, who famously wrote said story as well as many others, it takes place in England in 1843, the year he wrote and published the book.
The film is rated PG for thematic elements and some mild language. As I am also a writer, I was intrigued by the way the film depicted the creative process of Charles struggling to bring his characters to life on the pages of a book. Back then, writing was even more difficult, one page after another laboriously written out in longhand by the author.
Charles (Dan Stevens) lives in a nicely appointed home with his wife and several children. He’s just had three flops after the astounding success of Oliver Twist, and needs to write something that will sell. He is visited by his characters, most notably Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), as he writes his story. (Any writer will tell you that your characters do follow you around, and will never leave until you tell their story.)
Tara (Anna Murphy), a young servant from Ireland, becomes a sort of muse for Charles when he discovers she can read, and he then begins reading her what he’s written as he goes along. He also has a deadline, something all writers will be familiar with. There is nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing until the task becomes almost an obsession.
The film shows flashbacks of the young Charles as a boy, and what he endured due to some setbacks of his father John (Jonathan Pryce), and being sent to a children’s work house to toil for 12 hours a day, pre-child labor laws. He is haunted by these memories and they influence how he writes.
He bases his story on bits and pieces of tales he hears from others, and it kind of reminded me of the now classic Shakespeare in Love that I reviewed for the A-Z Blogging Challenge last April. The screenwriter, Susan Coyne, did a marvelous job getting into the creative process of Charles as he creates perhaps his most memorable work.
A Christmas Carol was of course a huge success when it was published, and established the name Scrooge to indicate someone who is greedy, self-involved, and miserly, caring for no one other than himself. A term best used today to describe certain elected officials and heads of industry. Despite how far humanity has progressed since this story appeared in 1843, there is a long way to go until the poor are not seen as “those people,” and until all are seen as worthy of the same regard as those with greater wealth or education. This film was so good, I’ll likely watch it again once it is released on streaming channels. I highly recommend The Man Who Invented Christmas for your holiday movie night.
God bless us, every one.