In 1843, when Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, folks were just getting into that thing we call the holidays, with stuff like Christmas trees and gift giving. Dickens’s novel about a miserable miser named Ebenezer Scrooge, who transforms from an evil greed monster to a kind philanthropist throughout its five chapters, helped take the celebration of Christmas to a new level of tradition.
The boldly titled The Man Who Invented Christmas spins an entertaining and clever take on how and why Dickens got the idea for the story that would change the world. Coming off a couple of flops after the success of his Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is doing clumsy book tours to pay the bills. Desperate for a “hit,” he gets an idea for a Christmas book, one in which a greedy man is haunted by ghosts of the past, present and future. The story is meant to be a cautionary yarn about the evils of selfishness, and perhaps less about the joys of Christmas and redemption. As Dickens gets further into his book—and his own psyche—the theme changes to one of hope, and his classic is born.
Director Bharat Nalluri, working from a screenplay by Susan Coyne, based on the book by Les Standiford, gets the unique opportunity to tell the making of A Christmas Carol while, in some ways, making yet another version of the famed story itself. The film features Dickens conferring with the fictional characters in his story as he creates them, so we get an Ebenezer Scrooge, this time played by the great Christopher Plummer.
Of course, he winds up being perfect for the role.