The Man Who Invented Christmas (film)

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The Man Who Invented Christmas
The Man Who Invented Christmas.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBharat Nalluri
Screenplay bySusan Coyne
Based onThe Man Who Invented Christmas
by Les Standiford
Produced by
  • Robert Mickelson
  • Ian Sharples
  • Paula Mazur
  • Mitchell Kaplan
  • Andrew Karpen
  • Vadim Jean
CinematographyBen Smithard
Edited by
  • Stephen O'Connell
  • Jamie Pearson
Music byMychael Danna
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 22 November 2017 (2017-11-22) (Canada)
Running time
104 minutes[3]
  • Ireland
  • Canada
Box office$8.1 million[4][5]

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a 2017 Christmas biographical comedy-drama film directed by Bharat Nalluri and written by Susan Coyne. Based on the 2008 book of the same name about Charles Dickens by Les Standiford, the joint Canadian and Irish production stars Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce, and follows Dickens (Stevens) as he conceives and writes his 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.

The film was produced by Parallel Film and Rhombus Media.[6] It was released by Bleecker Street in the United States on 22 November 2017,[7] and by Thunderbird Releasing[8] in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2017. It received generally positive reviews from critics.[9]


In 1843, four years after the success of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is suffering financial hardship from the failure of his last three books. Rejected by his publishers, he sets out to write a new book, and publish it himself, to restore his finances. Seeing inspiration around London, most notably a rich man's funeral that is largely unattended and a mean-spirited old man who gives him the catchphrase "Humbug" and inspiration of a new character, he begins writing A Christmas Carol, due in six weeks in order to be published by Christmas, despite his friends and publishers telling him that the book will also be a failure as Christmas (at the time) was considered irrelevant and few people celebrated it.

As Charles develops the story, he interacts with the characters that manifest in front of him, most notably Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Dickens is helped by one of his servants, Tara (Anna Murphy), a literate Irish nursemaid to his children, whom he discusses story elements with.

While writing his book, Charles is greeted by the unannounced arrival of his eccentric father, John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce), whom Charles views as immature and fiscally irresponsible. When Charles shows Tara the next draft, she is distraught that Scrooge would not save Tiny Tim. Tara believes that people can change and suggests instead that Scrooge saves Tiny Tim.

However, Charles is unable to believe that a man as cruel and cold as Scrooge could change. He rejects the notion but it continues to haunt him in the form of writer's block. Charles' relationship with his family and friends increasingly strains as he struggles with Scrooge's ending and his debts mount, until he sends both his parents and Tara out of the house in a fit of rage. The next morning, he regrets dismissing Tara, but is unable to find and rehire her. His wife, Catherine Dickens, tearfully confronts Charles over his recklessness and instability, and admits that she believes that he puts his work before his own family.

It is revealed that much of Charles' animosity toward his father stems from his childhood trauma of laboring in a blacking factory after his family was taken to debtors' prison, all due to John Dickens' failure to pay his debts. Returning to the long-abandoned factory, Charles is forced to confront his own insecurities through Scrooge. Charles realizes that his story should be one of redemption and races home to finish his manuscript. As he is about to leave his home to submit it to his printer, he finds that Tara has come to return a book that he had lent her, and he apologizes for his angry outburst and invites her back to the household.

His wife suggests that he do the same with his father, who is about to board a train to leave London. He does so and, after reconnecting with his family, submits the manuscript in time for publishing before Christmas.

The Dickens family celebrates the holiday, while a text epilogue explains the overnight success of A Christmas Carol and its lasting impact on the Christmas holiday.



In addition to filming at Ardmore studios in Wicklow in Ireland, location filming was completed in and around Dublin (including Henrietta Street and North Great Georges Street) as well as in Wicklow; the latter was "transformed into 1840’s Victorian England" according to one source. Principal photography was completed on 21 January 2017.[10][11]

Historical accuracy[edit]

Dickens is shown visiting Warren's Blacking Factory as an adult, but this building was demolished in the early 1830s.[12]

In an interview, Stevens said of the film's historical accuracy: “Frankly, whether it’s historically accurate, I’m not that concerned about. I was interested in that moment of the creative process, watching a great man struggle – to me, that's dramatically and comedically interesting. Certainly, I was keen not to play Dickens as a bearded old sage”.[13] He also expressed an interest in Miriam Margolyes' theory that Dickens was bipolar, saying: “There were moments when he was bleak and depressive. But I think there were moments when he was great fun to be around, very silly and playful.”[13]

In a review, Time magazine mentioned that "some major plot points are the product of dramatic license" but concluded that the film "does provide viewers with a fairly accurate sense of how Dickens successfully changed the way Christmas is celebrated".[14]

Release and reception[edit]

The film was released in the United States in 500 theaters on 22 November 2017.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 79% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic yuletide tale."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score 60 out of 100, based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: "In addition to being a rather fine addition to the Christmas-movie canon, the film marks a useful teaching tool — a better option for classroom screenings than any of the previous "Carol" adaptations, once students have finished reading the novella."[18] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was less impressed, giving it one star and calling it "a kind of wacky and saccharine muttonchop-whisker-gawd-bless-yer fantasy-comedy". He thought Stevens was miscast, and that "Not even a good cast can help a film as tin-eared as this."[19]


It was nominated on 27 June 2018 at the 44th Saturn Awards for Best International Film.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Niall Murphy (November 3, 2017). "The Man Who Invented Christmas open in cinemas December 1st".
  2. ^ "Opening Gala: The Man Who Invented Christmas". Cork Film Festival. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  4. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  5. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  6. ^ "Bharat Nalluris The Man Who Invented Christmas finished principal photography". Screen Ireland. February 6, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2020. with support from the Irish Film Board
  7. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 7, 2016). "Dan Stevens & Christopher Plummer To Star In Charles Dickens Tale 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas: Official UK Trailer Released". The Arts Shelf. October 25, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2020. Thunderbird Releasing has launched the official UK trailer for THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS, out in cinemas nationwide on Friday 1st December, 2017
  9. ^ Dingle, Jon (September 23, 2017). "The Man Who Invented Christmas UK Release Date Announced". Filmoria. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Bharat Nalluris The Man Who Invented Christmas finished principal photography". Screen Ireland. February 6, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "About The Man Who Invented Christmas". Screen Ireland. November 6, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  12. ^ Alex Werner (2011). Dickens's Victorian London : 1839-1901. Williams, Tony., Museum of London. London: Museum of London. ISBN 978-0-09-194373-8. OCLC 754167835.
  13. ^ a b Clarke, Cath (December 1, 2017). "Dan Stevens: 'Dickens could be bleak, but also very silly'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  14. ^ "How Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol Changed the Way the Holiday Is Celebrated". TIME. November 21, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 20, 2017). "Can 'Coco' Whip 'Justice League' For Top Spot Over Thanksgiving Stretch? – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  18. ^ Debruge, Peter (October 27, 2017). "Film Review: 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'". Variety.
  19. ^ "The Man Who Invented Christmas review – bah, humbug!". Guardian. December 1, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links[edit]