Title: The Man Who Invented Christmas
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Tis’ the season to watch films and eat as much turkey, chocolate, pudding and trifle as you can! At this stage, December 29th, we’ve eaten turkey four different ways. All as delicious as our Christmas Day feast.
During this lazy season I stumbled across this wonderful film which depicts the writing process as a magical, fantastical process. The whole film centres on how Charles Dickens, played by Dan Stevens, conceived and wrote his classic tale that is ‘A Christmas Carol’. Stevens who you may be familiar with for his role as Matthew Crawley, in Downton Abbey, is the perfect man for the job in this film. I think he portrays a playful yet ambitious Dickens, just what this story needs.
‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ outlines Dicken’s childhood and his difficult relationship with his father. After a series of embarrassing financial difficulties, Dickens and his family swapped their country estate for a dingy London tenement house. At the ripe young age of 12, Dickens was sent to a shoe-blacking factory where he worked 10 hour days.
As an adult, and a somewhat struggling writer, Dickens needs to support his family and deal with his father who has entered his life again. To try resolve his financial issues, Dickens sets tight deadlines for himself in which he needs to produce his next best seller. Part of the story asks the question, will he make this deadline or not?
Once his plan is in motion and his deadline is set, the writing process begins properly for Dickens and this is where we see the true genius of a legend in action. In his attic room at the top of his house, Dicken’s work room is opened up to the viewer and we see the characters coming to life. Dicken’s insists that before one can write about a character, the author must have a suitable name for the character. After much deliberation, he finally decides on Scrooge, Ebenezer will come later! Throughout the writing process, Dickens is visited by Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Along with his characters, Dickens sets about writing this classic which has stood the test of time.
What I enjoyed most about this film is that it is what I imagine to be a true representation of a struggling writer’s life. It is very seldom that a writer’s novel is published straight away, by a reputable publisher, and the writer is made famous there and then. In this film, Dickens had trouble with his publisher and it is comforting for any writer to see that even literary legends struggled and everything wasn’t always rosy in the garden. For the era, Charles Dickens was luck to have seen some of his fame, as some authors and poets only became famous upon their death.
Another element of this film that I enjoyed was observing the writing process, the way Dickens envisaged his characters in the room with him, conversing with him, as he wrote his story. It was simply genius, as the characters slagged Dickens when he couldn’t think of a suitable ending. This infuriated Charles but it made him think fast as he was completely immersed in his story, especially since the characters followed him around, slagging him about his faults.
Like Charles was immersed in his story, you will be too if you watch this film.