Starring Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge, The Man Who Invented Christmas is a charming movie based on the original publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843. This movie centers around Dickens’ writing of the well-known and loved novella, which the movie painted as a revolutionary work, forever connecting Dickens to the idea of Christmas. By showing a new perspective of this popular Christmas story, The Man Who Invented Christmas brings Dickens to life as an avid storyteller, eager to share his work with the world and inspire a different look on social norms and overlooked corruption.
The movie follows Dickens as he attempts to find inspiration for a new book that can follow his recent success of The Pickwick Papers and The Adventures of Oliver Twist. Dickens, painted as a passionate, often absent-minded fellow, risks much with the hope that he can complete this book, which he calls his best work yet, by the holiday season. He interacts with the apparitions of his characters as he attempts to know them and write their story. As Kerry Brown wrote in his New York Times review on The Man Who Invented Christmas, Dickens is seen as a “secret documentarian” writing himself into parts of the character of Scrooge.
Throughout the movie, Dickens shows his disdain for the selfish, advantaged people who take no stock in caring for those lowly and in need. He writes Scrooge as a hard-hearted, cruel man stuck in his ways and incapable of any kindness. Anna Murphy, Dickens’ young Irish maid who was raised on superstition and storytelling, inspires Dickens’ writing throughout the movie and encourages him that the despicable, seemingly unredeemable character of Scrooge ought to exhibit change, or else the book leaves the reader hopeless and depressed.
One of the most fascinating pieces of this movie was the way Dickens develops through self-reflection and identifying himself with the protagonist of his own novel. Only by seeing himself in aspects of the cruelty and selfishness of Scrooge is Dickens able to write redemption into the story of a rich, greedy man. Dickens realizes he has been failing to care for his often wasteful, yet needy father, and that he has not been prioritizing his wife and family. The character transformation of both Dickens and Scrooge is heart-warming and satisfying.
Despite some fabrication, The Man Who Invented Christmas shines light on Charles Dickens and the historical setting in which he wrote A Christmas Carol. This movie is a heartfelt reminder there may be a little bit of Scrooge in all of us, and we ought to strive to love others and spread the Christmas cheer Dickens and Scrooge advocate for through action and not just empty words.