The Man Who Invented Christmas Review – A Magical Holiday Treat For All

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The Man Who Invented Christmas, from Bleecker Street Media, presents the story of  young Charles Dickens, struggling to create, in six short weeks, what would become the best loved Christmas story of all time, A Christmas Carol.

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, The Man Who Invented Christmas stars Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Ian McNeice, Ger Ryan, Morfydd Clark, Simon Callow, Miriam Margolyes, Bill Paterson, Donald Sumpter, Miles Jupp, Cosimo Fusco, Annette Badland, Valeria Bandino, Justin Edwards, Anna Murphy and Ava May Taylor. Based on the book of the same name written by Les Standiford, it was adapted for the screen by Susan Coyne.

The Man Who Invented Christmas opens in New York: Dickens is a hit, the worlds greatest author, lauded by his critics, adored by fans, extolled by peers, he is the toast of the town. The fanfare he receives on his American book tour is robust, Can-can girls, confetti, cheering audiences. All which he admits can really be exhausting.

Soon he is back home in London, with Chapman, his muscle, manager, friend, played by Ian McNeice,  who has a way of working out problems while the master, Dickens, creates. Today however, Dickens is desiring more. 

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If we were in contemporary society, Dickens would be on the verge of mad and diagnosed with as many acronym diseases as are available. As it is we are in turn of the century London, and he is eccentric, creative, and known to be a bit obsessed, talking to himself, and to his characters as each take on a life of their own. As he often says, “when you finally get the name right the character will appear.”,

After meeting with his publisher, Dickens has an idea: a book, about Christmas, the most beautiful, magical and wonderful time of the year. Now, he explains to his bewildered publishers, ever the micro-manager, it must be designed in this manner and be on the shelves by Christmas eve.

Shocked would be mild as his publishers explain it is impossible, even if the manuscript were finished, it would have to be typeset, designed and the ides of gold, and red, and finest of details, just impossible and out of the question.

Soon Dickens has decided he would accomplish this feat on his own, calculating time to print, illustrations which will accompany the book, typesetting from his handwritten chapters, and of course, least no one forget the story, of which actually a minor detail, but necessary and then course payment. So, on with it.

This is where The Man Who Invented Christmas moves into Act II, the making of the book. We accompany our idealistic Dickens, whom we are meeting at a unique time in his life, young, youthful, energetic, coming into his own as a world renowned author.

He still carries baggage from a troubled past, and as it is Christmas and he has a deadline that his own funds have financed, one can guess who will show up right about now as the doorbell rings. Of course, it is his father, played by Jonathan Pryce, and his mother, Ger Ryan.

Soon the angst of finally getting the names right, we see Dickens pacing, pulling the words out of his soul, with groans and angst, and the household help giggling on the outside of the door, as the master is creating one of his books.

Soon with his character lead by Ebenezer Scroouge, played by Christopher Plummer, Dickens is traversing the seeding side of London, chasing his future and fighting his past. The pull of both, his deadline, his characters, the ever important ending, the past, his father, the renovations on his house, the children, one on the way, it all collides into atom of exploding creativity.

I really enjoyed The Man Who Invented Christmas. Going in I wasn’t sure what to expect and I must say, the film exceeded my expectations. Quite possibly it is because of the angst of the deadline, the over the top, and neurotic portrayal by Dan Stevens.

His performance was masterful. Funny at times, especially as one who knowns the end of the story, seeing the gestation of this phenomenon being birthed during which it is, of course, the holiday season, and as always brings to the surface the unresolved issues of families and childhoods.

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Christopher Plummer again delivers a memorable and lauded performance as Scrooge. He is the character that leads Dickens on his quest to find the meaning of Christmas and share it with the world. Plummer, of course, as a more active Ebenezer Scroouge, the figment of Dickens’ imagination, his character is given ample opportunity to run the range of emotions.

With a cast of loveable, memorable and funny characters, the story behind the creation of A Christmas Carol take on a life of its own. It is charming for the viewer, understandable in craftsmanship and creation to the author/writer, and ushers in what we hope and he did also for a peaceful, joyous, thankful holiday, with family and good friends, new and old, to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

An instant holiday classic that will be around for years to come! The Man Who Invented Christmas is in theaters everywhere. See this! A delightful masterpiece!


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