I cannot count how many versions I’ve watched of A Christmas Carol on film. This movie puts a whole new magical spin to the story penned by Charles Dickens that might make you sniffle at the end. At the moment it’s 79% rated by the critics on Rotten Tomatoes with 89% audience score. You can count me in the accolades as this was a delightful film.
Meet the younger Charles Dickens, who has four children and one on the way (apparently he had 10 altogether). He’s just had two flops, isn’t making any money and bills are due, and the most dreadful thing has happened – writer’s block. (Been there myself.) The story is basically his attempt to come up with a new piece in a short period of time, which he publishes himself because his publishers aren’t too keen on the story. (See, even the literary geniuses can get it wrong.)
As Dickens starts to collect names in his little book that he carries around, he jots down Marley. The city and its residents are his inspiration as he begins to build the story after meeting a man who thinks the world would be better off without the poor. As bits and pieces of the tale come together so do his characters. As an author, I absolutely adored the scenes. When he finally creates Scrooge in his mind, none other than Christopher Plummer shows up and becomes his muse of a sidekick and Dicken’s own personal tormentor throughout the creation of A Christmas Carol.
The film has its lighthearted moments, mostly from the oneliners that Scrooge throws at Dickens. In addition, as he develops characters, more of them come alive and continue to haunt his every move – from Marley to the ghosts of past, present, and future. However, as Dickens delves into the complex character of Scrooge, he finds himself faced with his own demons regarding his childhood and his father who was sent to debtor’s prison. Apparently, true to Dicken’s life, he did work in a factory as a child of 12 years of age and suffered the life of poverty while his father, mother, and siblings were doing time.
I found the film a delightful and fanciful filled story. The Victorian London comes alive in the streets, houses, and costumes. Dan Stevens is an absolute joy to watch as Dickens, putting his best acting in this eccentric writer haunted by the characters he creates. Christopher Plummer is an absolute gem as Scrooge and even more believable than some of the actors who have played the role in the story itself.
What I enjoyed about this movie the best, is that it has taken a well-known story and spun it with a new twist. It allows us to see how perhaps the creative mind of Dickens worked and the inspirational muse that often drives writers to become a bit wonky, isolated, and neurotic. Even Dickens, as portrayed in this movie, dwells on his inadequacies and fears of not being able to produce another great work.
If you’re suffering from the Scrooge mentality, this movie may get you in the mood for Christmas.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! (Charles Dickens)