The Man Who Invented Christmas is a 2017 biographical drama film directed by Bharat Nalluri and written by Susan Coyne based on the book of the same name by Les Standiford. It stars Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce. The plot follows Charles Dickens (Stevens) as he conceives and writes A Christmas Carol.
It was released by Bleecker Street in the United States on 22 November 2017 and in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2017.
In 1843, four years after the success of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is suffering financial hardship from the failure of his last three books. Rejected by his publishers, he sets out to write a new book, and publish it himself, to restore his finances. Seeing inspiration around London, most notably a rich man’s funeral that is largely unattended and a mean-spirited old man who gives him the catchphrase “Humbug”, he begins writing A Christmas Caroland inspiration of a new character, due in six weeks in order to be published by Christmas, despite his friends and publishers telling him that the book will also be a failure as Christmas (at the time) was considered irrelevant and few people celebrated it. As Charles develops the story, he interacts with the characters that manifest in front of him, most notably Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Dickens is helped by one of his servants, Tara (Anna Murphy), a literate Irish nursemaid to his children, whom he discusses story elements with.
While writing his book, Charles is greeted by the unannounced arrival of his eccentric but loving father, John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce), whom Charles views as immature and fiscally irresponsible. When Charles shows Tara the next draft, she is distraught that Scrooge would not save Tiny Tim. Tara believes that people can change and suggests instead that Scrooge saves Tiny Tim. However, Charles is unable to believe that a man as cruel and cold as Scrooge could change. He rejects the notion but it continues to haunt him in the form of writer’s block. Charles’ relationship with his family and friends increasingly strains as he struggles with Scrooge’s ending and his debts mount, until he sends both his parents and Tara out of the house in a fit of rage. The next morning, he regrets dismissing Tara, but is unable to find and rehire her. His wife, Catherine Dickens, tearfully confronts Charles over his own irresponsibility and instability, and admits that she believes he puts his work before his own family.
It is revealed that much of Charles’ animosity towards his father is from his childhood humiliation of working in a blacking factory after his family was taken to debtors’ prison because of his father’s irresponsibility with money. Returning to the long-abandoned factory, Charles is forced to confront his own insecurities through Scrooge. Charles realizes that his story should be one of redemption and races home to finish his manuscript. As he is about to leave his home to submit it to his printer he finds that Tara has come to return a book that he’d lent her, and he apologizes for his angry outburst and invites her back to the household. His wife suggests that he do the same with his father, who is about to board a train to leave London. He does so and, after reconnecting with his family, submits the manuscript in time for publishing before Christmas.
The film ends with the Dickens family celebrating the holidays, while a title text explains the overnight success of A Christmas Carol and its lasting impact on the Christmas holiday.
Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens
Ely Solan as young Charles Dickens
Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge
Jonathan Pryce as John Dickens, Charles Dickens’ father
Simon Callow as John Leech, an illustrator
Donald Sumpter as Jacob Marley
Miriam Margolyes as Mrs Fisk
Morfydd Clark as Kate Dickens
Justin Edwards as John Forster/Ghost of Christmas Present
Miles Jupp as William Makepeace Thackeray
Ian McNeice as Edward Chapman
Bill Paterson as Mr Grimsby
John Henshaw as Mr Fezziwig
Annette Badland as Mrs Fezziwig
Anna Murphy as Tara/Ghost of Christmas Past
Jasper Hughes-Cotter as Walter Dickens
Eddie Jackson as Scam Artist
Paul Kealyn as Warren’s Foreman
Aleah Lennon as Mamie Dickens
Ger Ryan as Elizabeth Dickens
Valeria Bandino as Tart
Donna Marie Sludds as Maid
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