December 6, 2017

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Charles Dickens Creates the Way We Celebrate Christmas

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is considered the preeminent novelist of the Victorian Era because of his touching and timeless tales that described the plight of the poor in that time. He experienced poverty  at an early age when he had to drop out of school to work in a factory in order to support the family, after his bankrupt father (Jonathan Pryce) was sent to debtors’ prison.

Dickens’s challenging childhood may have served as the inspiration for such classics as The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield.

However, his book which may have had the biggest effect on Western culture is A Christmas Carol, since it arguably altered how we now celebrate the holiday.

That is the premise of The Man Who Invented Christmas, Les Standiford’s historical narrative that describes the events in December of 1843 that led Dickens to write A Christmas Carol. The novella has now been adapted into a movie by Bharat Nalluri (MI-5) as a sentimental tale of redemption.

As the film unfolds, we find Dickens (Dan Stevens) living beyond his means and struggling to support his family. Debt collectors are closing in, and we see Dickens fighting writer’s block in an attempt to write another bestseller after releasing three bombs in a row. In the movie we see key elements of A Christmas Carol — such as Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and The Ghost of Christmas Past (Anna Murphy) — come to him in a variety of ways, ranging from dreams to an offhand observation made by his Irish housekeeper (Donna Marie Sludds).

He published the novella on December 19, and the first edition sold out before Christmas. More importantly, the manuscript’s moving message about the spirit of the season has made a lasting impact that still shapes the way we observe the holiday to this day.

Very Good (***). Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets. Running time: 104 minutes. Production Studio: Parallel Films/Rhombus Media. Distributor: Bleecker Street.