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In 1843, the celebrated British novelist, Charles Dickens, is at a low point in his career with three flops behind him and his family expenses piling up at home. Determined to recover, Dickens decides to write a Christmas story and self-publish it in less than two months. As Dickens labors writing on such short notice, his estranged father and mother come to bunk with him. Still haunted by painful memories of his father ruining his childhood by his financial irresponsibly, Dickens develops a writer's block which seems to have no solution. As such, Dickens must face his personal demons epitomized through his characters, especially in his imagined conversations with Ebenezer Scrooge. Now with a looming deadline, Dickens struggles for inspiration against his frustrations and his characters' opinions in a literary challenge creating a classic tale that would define the essential soul of modern Christmas. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Cast members Miriam Margolyes, Ian McNeice, Ger Ryan and Jonathan Pryce have previously appeared in adaptations of Oliver Twist, another popular novel that Charles Dickens wrote. Margolyes portrayed Mrs. Corney in the 1985 miniseries produced by the BBC, as well as narrated the 2012 documentary The First Fagin, about the creation of the novel's villian, Fagin. McNeice appeared in the 2005 film adaptation as a workhouse board member. Ger Ryan appeared in the 1999 miniseries adaptation as Mrs. Sorrowberry, the undertaker's wife. And Pryce played the role of Fagin during the 1994 West End revival of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, and even appeared on the show's cast recording. See more »
Much is made of turkey being the centre-piece of a good Christmas feast. This tradition arose much later, however. In Dickens' day - and in the original novella - the festive bird of choice was a goose. See more »
I don't think we can avoid getting a filmed version of Dickens' immortal "A Christmas Carol" once every few years. It's a wonderful tale of redemption that fits perfectly within the larger Christmas narrative, and The Man Who Invented Christmas presents that with a unique twist. Unfortunately, the twist it gives it isn't nearly as strong as Dickens' tale itself. It's the "Saving Mr. Banks problem": wishing you were watching the subject of a film (the actual "Christmas Carol") instead of the film itself (Dickens' writing of it), which is as gentle and foggy as a London breeze, and very nearly as vapid.
Acclaimed author Charles Dickens (Stevens) was coming off a 3-book slump when he had the inadvisable idea to self-publish a novel about Christmas, which (SPOILER ALERT!) became a huge success. This story is told through the compelling mechanism of Dickens imagining his characters to life and wrestling with their decisions face-to-face, giving us the unique perspective of how a writer creates. Unfortunately, there's little naturalism in any of it. His initial visions and ideas are (ridiculously) exactly as they appear in the novel, and the movie keeps desperately forcing us to make connections between Dickens' real life and his story. And Stevens doesn't help, giving a performance more akin to Chandler Bing than Alastair Sim.
Sure, the production (sets, costumes) is beautiful. We're treated to gregariously be-wigged characters and smoggy old streets in this study of artistic inspiration and madness. Unfortunately, it's all stuck on top of a much-too-safe story on the plight of the rich man, that's just more proof that an artist's imagination is often more compelling than his life.
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