Dickens Gets His Day (Again) In The Man Who Invented Chistmas
I would like to investigate the percentage of holiday films that actually live on with each festive season, year after year. It can’t be a high number, what with the sheer amount of ridiculousness and raunchiness posed in Christmas comedies each year, nor with the undercooked sentimental cheap shots pumped out by the Hallmark or Lifetime networks. What does it take to become a classic– that’s what I am truly asking here. Bharat Nalluri’s latest film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, may very well be a true contender for that genre. With equal parts heart and wit, along with a cast that lends a genuineness and warmth to the screen, your yearly holiday lineup may need to make room for another tale.
Inspired by Les Standiford’s book of the same title, The Man Who Invented Christmas charts the creative process of author Charles Dickens as he writes his most enduring and memorable work, A Christmas Carol. Dan Stevens takes on the titan of literature in his role as Dickens, and enlivens the screen each second he is present. He undoubtedly makes Dickens lovable and human, while also portraying the lackluster qualities the emotional and anxiety-ridden author struggled to abate. Christopher Plummer (Georg von Trapp, how good to see you) embodies Scrooge in all his miserly terribleness, goading Dickens throughout the film. Scrooge feasts upon his insecurities until the writer fights his way through the darkness and, as artists tend to do, makes art of the murky past. These two leads, along with Justin Edwards as Dickens’ friend John Forster, an angelic Irish maid played by Anna Murphy, Jonathan Pryce as
Dickens’ father, and Morfydd Clark as wife Kate Dickens, create a fantastic and lovable cast of characters that do not disappoint or falter throughout the narrative.
To take on the life and explanation of such a prominent and everlasting literary figure as Charles Dickens is no small task; some might claim the movie dares do too much, unable to bear the weight of such a hefty backstory. Here I disagree, however, as the film never attempts to be a biography of the author, but rather a snapshot of him at this precise time in his career, expounding on the seed of an idea that has borne a revival of the heart of a most precious holiday. Similar to George Bailey and Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life or Mr. Kringle and Susan Walker from Miracle on 34th Street, the characters in this film inspire those sincere sentiments we hope the season is truly about: forgiveness, hope, and the absolute sweetness of joy.