Film Review- The Man Who Invented Christmas

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Originally posted on 4th October 2017 on Star Central Magazine

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is a kind of tale that you would like to share amongst a group of bright-eyed children near a crackling fireplace and a Christmas spruce. There is something about this Charles Dickens’ classic novella that encapsulates the warmth and joy of Christmas. Based on the same book title “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” by Les Standiford, the film is vivid re-invention of a classic novel where it ventures to the imaginative mind of Charles Dickens.

The premise of the story is semi-biographical and focuses on the period in which Charles Dickens was suffering from writer’s block, and his last three books were complete failures. Set out to revive his career and keep his family afloat, the film takes us through the magical process of creating “A Christmas Carol” which he wrote in six stress-inducing weeks.

Dickens who was played by TV’s Downtown Abbey, Dan Stevens who gave a tremendous performance in the film. He articulates every possible mannerism there is to the real Charles Dickens who probably did that in his lifetime. Dickens is known for his vivid imagination, his obsession to detail and storytelling. He overthinks a lot and is very particular in his descriptions of his characters and his story premise. They say regarding to writing, most authours write what they know— and that rings true as “A Christmas Carol” slowly reveals to be a  manifestation of his past which he was unable to confront during his lifetime.

The film creatively structures the parallels between Charles Dickens’ past and the events of A Christmas Carol by conjuring mental manifestations of his characters who surround his workspace, follows him around and seemingly co-operates with them in guiding him along in finishing his story. It’s rather an amusing homage to his active, vivid imagination as he is known to “make a whole world come alive” with his words. Ebenezer Scrooge, who is characterised as the cold-hearted, selfish and money hungry miser who declared Christmas as “Bah! Humbug”, draws uncanny parallels to  Dickens’ own father who became bankrupt, leaving his family drastically poor.

The central question that has been asked like an overused clique is “Can a cold-hearted and grouchy person like Mr Scrooge change and do some good in the world?” Dickens at first was hesitated as “it is the way he is.” However, when he read it his maid, Tara – a bright little girl who loves his writings, she protests that Scrooge is not all evil. Instead, he should do something to save Tiny Tim from dying. The parallels began to converge when the Scrooge and his father wanted to the right their wrongs and eventually be on the road to redemption. (He finally realised that his father all those years has been guilt-ridden about his misdeeds, but put on a façade to hide his internal struggles.)

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a refreshing take on a classic novella which is heralded as the poster child of the holiday season. Showered with charm, wit, and homages to Christmas, it a film that you would want to enjoy with your friends and family!

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