The Man Who Invented Christmas: Review
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
Last night I sat down to finish a chapter with hopes of hitting a rhythm, hopes that were soon dashed upon the rocks of writer's block as I sat at the computer screen, loathing every word I'd written. It's frustrating, to be on holiday with all the time in the world, but to be stuck in one maddening place with no idea where the story is meant to go. Sometimes it's so easy to forget that writer's block is a snag every author hits at one time or another, and it's encouraging to be reminded that even the greats have had dry spells in their illustrious careers. C.S. Lewis. J.R.R Tolkien. And yes, even the prodigious, the eloquent, the distinguished Charles Dickens himself.
Last Christmas a film was released staring Beauty and the Beast's talented Dan Stevens, titled The Man Who Invented Christmas- a must-see for writers. Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol, but how many people think of what inspired Dickens to write such a ground-breaking novel? How many hours did he spend in his study, staring at an empty page? How many intelligible syllables were grated from his throat before he settled upon the name of one Ebenezer Scrooge?
The Man Who Invented Christmas is a glimpse into the life of Charles Dickens, during his mad frenzy to write A Christmas Carol in just six weeks before Christmas. He's struggling financially, discouraged by several flops, and bent beneath the anxiety of providing for his four, soon-to-be-five, children. The publishers with which he has worked in the past are no longer satisfying his needs, compelling him to publish his next manuscript himself- a Christmas ghost story, in fact.
A few tiny problems. The story isn't written. Christmas is just six weeks away. And not even the great Charles Dickens is immune to writer's block.
I love, love, LOVE this movie for so many different reasons, and recommend it to any writer who's ever loved and loathed a story all at once. Not only did Dan Stevens capture an eccentric, ebullient, obsessive Dickens perfectly, but the film focused more on the story of the author than on the story he was so madly writing. It was a glimpse into his past, into the hurts that shaped his childhood, into the ghosts of his own past, present, and future, not only those of Ebenezer Scrooge. As a writer, I loved it for the writer's quirks- watching him growl around his study trying to find the perfect name, banter with his characters as if they were in the room with him, mumble to himself in his characters' voices, collect names in his little brown notebook, groan and gasp and storm around his study when the story wouldn't go where he wanted, and go into a writing frenzy whenever inspiration struck. There's so much for writers to relate to, and that makes it personal, but what makes this film so incredibly touching is the story that runs far deeper than that. The story of forgiveness, redemption, love, and the ability of everyone to change, no matter the time of life or the hurts of the past.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is a heart-warming, entertaining, inspiring Christmas story for writers and non-writers alike, and reminds us all that "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another" (Charles Dickens).