REVIEWS of “Christmas” movies
|Featuring:||Dan Stevens … Charles Dickens
Christopher Plummer … Ebenezer Scrooge
Jonathan Pryce … John Dickens
Simon Callow … Leech
Miriam Margolyes … Mrs. Fisk
Ian McNeice … Chapman
Bill Paterson … Mr. Grimsby
Donald Sumpter … Jacob Marley
Morfydd Clark … Kate Dickens
Cosimo Fusco … Signor Mazzini
Annette Badland … Mrs. Fezziwig
Valeria Bandino … Tart
Justin Edwards … John Forster
Ger Ryan … Mrs. Dickens
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|Director:||Bharat Nalluri—“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” (2008)|
|Producer:||Mazur / Kaplan Company
The Mob Film Company
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Bleecker Street Media
Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is a best-selling author in old Victorian England who, in 1842, is still riding the wave of his recent success with Oliver Twist. One year and three successive failures later and his finances dwindling, he decides it’s time to write a new book in time for Christmas, the only problem being that he is suffering from a crippling writers block, and he has no idea what to write about.
Drawing inspiration from the people and situations all about him, most particularly the abject poverty on his very doorstep juxtaposed against his fellow man’s insensitivity to their plight, an idea hatches, and he begins to craft the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer)—a miserly, rich old fool who receives his chance at redemption one Christmas eve, when visited by four ghostly apparitions.
Christopher Plummer plays the imagined Scrooge with a delicious aplomb, and watching all of the story’s characters come to life in the writer’s mind makes for some of the best moments for anyone familiar with the story of A Christmas Carol. Rated PG, this look into the creative process behind the beloved Christmas classic, is fit for family viewing with only a few areas of possible concern.
Language: Minor. The British expletive ‘bloody’ is said 4 times, with only single mentions of the following crude words: “sc*m-s*cking”, “a**”, “street-walker”, “vampire” and “necromancer.” These last two are related to bedtime stories a younger maid reads to the Dickens children.
Violence: Mild. A child is humiliated in front of other children, berated and given a dead rat as a present. He is later beat by another child, but this is shown from his perspective, so the actual beating is not seen. Dickens, in a fit of rage, begins to tear apart his room, and then the scene cuts away to the messy aftermath. He also loses his patience several times and yells at both the servant staff and his father. Darker than any violence, though, is the imagery which includes his own forced servitude as a child, the destitute, and the imagined scenes of Tiny Tim struggling against his infirmity, along with the ghosts which torment Scrooge, the last of which foretells his death in a shallow constricting grave.
Charity—Charles Dickens personally felt the plight of the poor since when he was a child; he and his family were once destitute themselves. He gave, as his wife said, to every beggar he came across and actively volunteered at a local charity. Holy Scripture asks no less of all of us.
Poor in the Bible
Mercy—Dickens also feels a responsibility to take care of his parents in their old age, as the Bible instructs us to (1 Timothy 5:8), despite the dysfunctional relationship he has with his father. Unfortunately, because of his childhood trauma, he belittles his father, forgetting the very lesson he learned from that same man in that, “…no man is useless if he can lighten the burden of others.”
Salvation—The author’s greatest struggle in finishing the book is answering the question, how can such an irredeemable man be redeemed? As Christians, we know the only answer is by faith in Jesus Christ, because only God can change our hearts so that we can live a new life in Him.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)
“The Man Who Invented Christmas” has lavishly decorated scenery, exquisite period appropriate costumes, fine acting by both the lead (Stevens) and his petulant muse (Plummer) as well as a ‘true-to-life’ narrative that will appeal to most fans of the classic tale. This same audience might also leave wishing the Director had taken further artistic license in order to better blend some of Dickens experiences with his characters. An unquestionably charming and welcome entry for the Christmas season, but one that feels more at home on the small screen than in the theater.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.