Movie Review: 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

John Thomas
Christopher Plummer and Dan Stevens

Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) didn’t actually invent Christmas, but he did create a story that defined it. After a triumphant publicity tour of America, Charles returns to London to face the reality of his financial situation – he is in desperate need of money. He has a lovely wife, a gaggle of adoring children (with another on the way) and lavish home in the midst of being redecorated. What he doesn’t have is an idea for his next story. The books following Oliver Twist were not successful so he really needs something special for his publishers, something to sell during the holiday season.

“How about a Christmas story?” he thinks. As is his habit, he dashes out the front door to seek ideas and inspiration for settings and characters to describe in his new book. As he passes through the streets he observes Londoners in their daily activities – some joyful for the coming holidays others sad, hungry and needy. Back to his writing desk with some ideas. He believes that if he has a name the character will appear.

Envisioning a Christmas ghost story, he struggles to find a name for the main character, a miserly, cranky, greedy, self-centered person. “S . . . something, scrounge, scratch, Scrooge – that’s it!” he gleefully announces to himself. As soon as the name is said Scrooge appears behind him dressed all in black with a scowl on his face. Charles turns, and with a mischievous glint in his eyes says to him, “You and I will do wonderful things together.” The pair are soon joined by other characters in the story whose numbers continue to grow as the two wander the streets of London.

There is a dark abandoned building across the water that Charles, with trepidation, glances at periodically. Adding to his burdens is the arrival of his happy-go-lucky father John (Jonathan Pryce) and his complacent mother. They’re here to celebrate Christmas. His father brings “ghosts” from Charles’ past and reminders of things he would rather not think about. Nearing a publishing deadline, Charles visits his publisher to discuss finances.

The visit doesn’t go well. He has to move onto “plan B” which is to self-publish. He scrambles from artists to printers and back to artists again organizing the new book – and spending time finishing it. The release date is mid-December and Christmas day is near. Charles is confronted by his present situation, how to deal with it and how his decisions will affect the future. His predicament is similar to the ones facing the characters in his story.

The first publish date is December 19th, 1843. The last publish date has yet to be determined as A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens remains in print to this day.


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