The new period movie The Man Who Invented Christmas is loosely based on the true story of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks, trying to rekindle his career after a series of poorly selling novels. And when it was published in 1843, as the film’s title suggests, it changed the way society celebrates the holiday.
Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer in ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’
Dan Stevens (Legion) plays Dickens in the film, and says that the book has been a favourite for his family. “This book and the idea of this sort of mildly terrifying ghost story, it’s brilliant,” he says. “And it’s a really important one to keep alive. That said, it would be a lot to live up to if we were making A Christmas Carol again. This is an interesting take on it. It’s the story behind one of the great cultural moments in Western literature and way that we think about that particular holiday.”
Stevens also feels that the reasons why Dickens wrote the book are as relevant as ever, since it was written as a protest against apalling treatment of the poor and children. Dickens wanted to help people be more compassionate and generous. “There are things that Dickens was seeing in Victorian Britain that were upsetting to him, and that’s where this tale started,” he says. “The general rise of rampant industrial capitalism depressed him a great deal, and he was aware of the social responsibility that comes along with success and power. The genius of Dickens is that he wrote a story about being good to people around you.”
Watch the trailer for ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ here:
He’s also glad that the filmmakers have some fun with it, letting Dickens interact with his fictional characters. “It is an incredible distillation of the number of things going on in his life within his creative process at the time,” Stevens says. “We didn’t want too many shots of the man at the desk scribbling. We get it, at some point he must have sat down and written something cool. But very often it’s him not writing.”
More: Read our review of ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’
He says the title itself is a bit of a joke. “Of course, Christmas goes back further than Charles Dickens,” Stevens laughs. “But in the 1840s Christmas wasn’t as widely celebrated as it is today. I think he really saw something in the celebration, or the remembering that the light will return in the very darkest time of the year, that really suited this humanist tale he wanted to tell. It’s incredible how this story has bled into our cultural consciousness.”