Every year during the holidays we watch at least three, if not four, versions of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. We typically start with our favorite Scrooge — the musical starring Albert Finney — on Thanksgiving night to ring in the season. Then between the two holidays we always sit down for the Bill Murray incarnation Scrooged and usually the classic Alastair Sims A Christmas Carol. And on Christmas Day we round it out with our favorite animated version starring Mr. Quincy Magoo.
To say we are a bit obsessed with the story of the three nighttime ghostly visitors would not be an understatement. So, when the invite came to attend a screening of The Man Who Invented Christmas starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast) and Christopher Plummer (best known for one of our non-holiday favorites The Sound of Music), how could we decline?
While we are huge fans of A Christmas Carol, we admittedly know very little about the author. But we learned a lot in the film, which tells the story of the man who penned the holiday classic. The movie reveals his little known backstory, his tormented family life and his mounting debt caused by an extravagant life and staved off by the success of his sixth and most frequently adapted novel.
Dan Stevens plays Dickens as a tortured soul desperate to conquer his writer’s block and regain his standing as a top-selling author. Christopher Plummer brilliantly portrays the Ebenezer Scrooge emerging from Dickens’ imagination, the author’s alter-ego who helps him tackle his real-life relationship with his father. In late night writing sessions, Dickens interacts with Scrooge and a cast of supporting actors who help channel his memories, bring his visions to the page and conjure up his beloved characters — from Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig to Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley to the three spirits.
Jonathan Pryce as Dicken’s father helps give insight into the author’s childhood and the demons he himself struggled with — many of which are recurring themes in several of Dickens’ classics. Director Bharat Nalluri realistically captures the contrast in Victorian era London between the rich and poor and beautifully combines fantasy and harsh reality with very few digital effects.
Through it all we learned so much about the author and his classic novel. Here are the tidbits we found most interesting:
1. Dickens was a bit of a rock star, touring the US after writing Oliver Twist with crowds cheering as he walked on stage.
2. The author was on the verge of bankruptcy after three flops following Oliver Twist. Desperate for a success, he wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks.
3. Unhappy with offers being made to him, Dickens self-published the first edition of the novella.
4. Tiny Tim was inspired by Dickens’ own nephew who was five at the time he wrote the story.
5. The success of A Christmas Carol caused a resurgence in the popularity of the holiday itself, which had fallen into disfavor at the time.
If you love Scrooge, you’ll love this film. The Man Who Invented Christmas opens nationwide on Wednesday November 22. Check your local listings for showtimes.