November 29, 2017

I see a fine new Christmas movie

Jack Kemp

Recently I saw a film called "The Man Who Invented Christmas," about the backstory of how Charles Dickens came to write (quite quickly and under pressure) the novella "A Christmas Carol" which has become, as you know, a most beloved movie about how spiritual values confront cynacism and pessimism and...well...humbug.

I actually was assigned to read this story cover to cover in a private school in Eighth Grade. I can still recall the half size pages and the roughly 128 page count. I considered the story a moving religious allegory. After seeing the movie trailer and reading short reviews online, there was a part of me that was fascinated by the description of Dickens, the writer. This is a story about a man with a growing family who, after "Oliver Twist," had three books in a row not well received by the public. And at this same time he bought a too grand home for his wife and children. How Dickens struggled to overcome his money problems and how he used his relationships to build and shape literary characters in a new inspiring story is quite a tale. The veteran senior actor Christopher Plummber plays a ghostlike "Scrooge" come to life and is Dicken's Devil's Advocate, his anti-Muse, as it were. The setting is a beautifully recreated 19th Century London. And the story, while addressing Dickens' own fears and poverty wrenched childhood memories, brings everything together in a reconciliation at the end involving both Dickens and his own father's flights of fancy.

This is a gritty back story to the Christmas tale which has its own share of cynicism and difficulties. There is no secret on how this story ends happily. But the secret is in the process of how this story evolves in its creation, in how Charles Dickens all but literally writes his own life.


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