The Man Who Invented Christmas is a drama film directed by Bharat Nalluri, written by Susan Coyne, and adapted from Les Standiford's book of the same name.


The film opens in early 1842, with Charles Dickens on a tour of the United States, fresh off the success of Oliver Twist and writing mixed notes about his devotees in America. Flashing forward a year and a half later to October 1843, Dickens has had three unsuccessful books and faces mounting debts, including the spendthrift ways of his father, who cannot seem to stay put in the house in Devon that Charles bought for his parents. Increasingly desperate, he ends up drawing some inspiration both from snobbish skinflints he encounters and a new Irish maid in his household, who regales the children with ghost and spirit stories.

In Dickens' mind, characters emerge and become real to him, until finally he is able to manifest the bare-boned character of Ebenezer Scrooge and begins to build upon him. However, constant real life interruptions, especially those provided by his father, begin to awaken grim feelings in Dickens, reminding him how his family was broken in childhood when his father was taken to a debtors' prison as a result of living beyond his means. With the frame of his story begun, Dickens has a hard frustrating time selling it to his publishers, who doubt the timeframe of a Christmas story being able to be produced so close to the holiday itself. Dickens decides to publish the story himself, despite the advice of his friend Foster. Dickens begins to have writer's block when he first envisions the Ghost of Christmas Past, who beckons to take him instead of Scrooge on an unwanted journey to his childhood, forced to work in a vile factory after his father's arrest.

In the present, Dickens continues to find both the characters and his own family to be firmly out of his control, and worries about money begin to make him somewhat more like Scrooge. Certain real life people continue to inspire his new set of characters, such as his sister's son Henry, afflicted with lameness and a club waiter named Marley whose stumbling gait creates Scrooge's dead partner. His friend Foster, depressed over his true love's family refusing his proposal of marriage, ends up becoming the model for the Ghost of Christmas Present when Dickens has a dispute with his illustrator, John Leech. But Dickens' blockage continues to haunt him just as his father's antics and easy spending continue to frustrate him when he must pay the bills for it. His companion characters even begin to disobey him, and he turns on many who tried to aid him, including Tara, the maid who has loved his new story - until she disagreed with him over the fates of Scrooge and Tiny Tim.

Falling into both a rage and a depression, Dickens thinks upon the words his wife said and taunts from the imaginary Scrooge and finally confronts his past, returning to the filthy black-boot factory he was forced into as a boy. There, he makes the realization that while the past helped make him who he was, he needn't be bound by it. His change enables him to realize that even a man like Scrooge could be saved, and through him, Tiny Tim. While rushing to bring his completed novel to the printer, Dickens also makes amends with Tara, Foster, his wife and his parents as well, bringing them back to his home, where they join in a new tradition - something from Germany called a Tannenbaum. The end narration reveals that, by Christmas Eve that year, all copies of the first run had sold out, charitable giving skyrocketed, and the once-moribund celebration of Christmas was revitalized.


This film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 6, 2018.


Actor Character
Dan Stevens Charles Dickens
Christopher Plummer Ebenezer Scrooge
Jonathan Pryce John Dickens
Simon Callow John Leech
Donald Sumpter Jacob Marley
Miriam Margolyes Mrs. Fisk
Morfydd Clark Kate Dickens
Justin Edwards John Forster/Ghost of Christmas Present
Ian McNeice Edward Chapman
Bill Paterson Mr. Grimsby
Anna Murphy Tara/Ghost of Christmas Past
Jasper Hughes-Cotter Walter Dickens
Eddie Jackson Scam Artist
Neil Slevin Italian Workman
Paul Kealyn Warren's Foreman
Aleah Lennon Mamie Dickens
Ger Ryan Elizabeth Dickens
Valeria Bandino Tart
Ely Solan Young Charles Dickens

External links

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