Charles Dickens is one of the most famous writers in history. His works have been turned into numerous films. He is a literary giant who spawned many fans and critics alike. It is only natural for a film to be made about Dickens coming up with one of his most beloved works. That would be “A Christmas Carol”. Dickens was known to a have a vivid imagination where his creations would come alive in his head. He may have had a better relationship with them than actual human beings. THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a well told tale that brings you into the mind of a literary genius and how his creative process worked.
Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens as he is wrestling with recent failure and with writer’s block. His last three works had not done well and his last hit was “Oliver Twist”. His publisher is getting frustrated with his losing streak. Creditors are closing in on him, while he continues to do expensive renovations on his house. At certain times he can get frustrated with the spending or the habits of his family and other times he lets it go. He has a lot on his mind as he tries to get back on track.
Charles is guided in his life by his friend John Forster (Justin Edwards). Forster acts as a business manager for Dickens. It is an unofficial role for Forster, but he would be a key sounding board for Dickens. Dickens had come back from a successful tour of the United States. Enthusiastic crowds were drawn to every word out of his mouth. But that was then and this was now as the saying goes. He desperately needed success to go his way or possibly face financial ruin.
Dickens was married to his wife Kate (Morfydd Clark) and they had several kids. He eventually had ten children with Kate. This caused all sorts of strain on the marriage. It is briefly approached in the film. But the main focus would be the creation of “A Christmas Carol”.
Dickens would collect names of people he met in a journal for future use in his books. He was pushed by a competitive rivalry with fellow writer William Makepeace Thackery (Miles Jupp). Thackery would come around his table stating his latest triumph while giving unprompted critiques of Dickens’s work. Dickens was determined to show him and other critics that he still had it in him.
Dickens had a rough childhood. His father, mother and siblings were sent away to a debtor’s prison. Dickens was forced to work at a young age in deplorable conditions. It definitely influenced his work. John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce) was a journalist himself, but he constantly was in debt and was an embarrassment to Charles. John would seek out loans using work by Charles.
Charles just came up with the idea of a Christmas book as he planned his next work. He got a loan and there was a strict deadline of trying to get the book out before Christmas. Director Bharat Nalluri really shines here in presenting the creative process of Dickens. He would take a little inspiration here and there. It was all consuming. He would walk the streets to get a handle on the story and how he wanted to incorporate ideas about how people viewed poverty and of the holiday of Christmas. This creates problems with his family and his employees. His mood would vary wildly between euphoria, depression and extreme anger.
The film pictures Dickens talking to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge (the great Christopher Plummer). This is where Dickens would fight through his demons of his childhood and his prickly relationship with his father. Every detail of the story had to be just right. With that, the illustrations of the book had to be just right as well. He hired John Leech (Simon Callow) at great cost and the high production costs no doubt ate into a lot of his profits that came after the publication of the book.
The look and feel of London in the 1840s can be felt on the screen. There are the carriages and the cobbled streets. You can feel and smell the commerce around every corner. All of the actors give top notch performances in the movie. Stevens lets you into the mind of one of the greatest writers. You can feel his anguish at creating this important work. Plummer is equally impressive as Scrooge who badgers Dickens throughout the process and gave him insight into his own soul.
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a quality movie about an important piece of work. If you liked “A Christmas Carol”, it is your duty to seek out this film.
Video: London comes alive on the screen, you can practically see and smell what it was like back then.
Audio: The sound was decent. The English accents might give people some issues in trying to hear the dialogue.
The Story Behind The Man Who Invented Christmas (2:46): This is a short feature about the making of the film.