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)
Miriam Margolyes & Ian McNeice appeared together previously in the television series, "Doc Martin". McNeice is a regular cast member on the program; Margolyes guest-starred as a poison victim tended to by the titular doctor. See more »
In the movie, Tara, the Dickens' children's nanny is seen by Charles Dickens to be carrying a copy of 'Varney the Vampire', which was a popular 'Penny Dreadful' weekly cheap publication popular in the Victorian era. This was suggested as a part of the inspiration behind A Christmas Carol possibly because of the spectral associations and the idea for the visits of the ghosts of Marley and Christmas past and present and yet to come. A Christmas Carol was written and published in 1843, but Varney the Vampire was not actually first published until 1845. 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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