The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) Doesn’t Reinvent the Carol


Both predictable yet not exactly a holiday retread, The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) is a nice break from all the maudlin Christmas programming out there in that it’s somewhat historical and threads the moralism lightly through an entertainingly aggravating case of writer’s block. You know where the story is going to go, but it’s fun watching Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) take us there in his foppy wig and flashy cravats.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Dan Stevens is Charles Dickens circa 1843.

The gist of the movie is accurate — Charles Dickens did write A Christmas Carol in a ‘white heat’ of six weeks, self-published, at a loss. This followed a couple commercial failures, so his household had money troubles, plus his wife was pregnant with their fifth child. The flashbacks to Dickens’ childhood are accurate, and his father was thrown into debtors’ jail, causing Charles to leave school and work at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse. And yes, he often picked up names and traits from people he encountered and included them in his stories.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Jonathan Pryce, center, plays Charles Dickens’ father.

So it’s easy enough to paste all this together into the tale of how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, complete with various of his fictional characters coming to life to “tell” him how the book should be and how it reflects parts of Dickens own past.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Scrooge, Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig, the Cratchits, and more of the Carol characters gather around their book.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Simon Callow plays illustrator John Leech.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Morfydd Clark as Dickens’ wife Kate — this is the most interesting costume in the whole movie (& it’s basically her only dress). Amazing plaid work!

Plus smocking at the center front.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Happy Christmas! Enjoy all the redonkulous Victorian print fabrics!


Will you add this to your Dickens-esque holiday viewing?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

8 Responses

  1. angharad

    I saw it last year in the theatre – I went by myself and it was lovely. Partly because it was an afternoon to myself, but also because I enjoyed the movie. And I loved that plaid frock.

  2. Nzie

    I watched this Saturday night! Was it an earth shattering picture? No. But it was quite enjoyable and, to my less trained eyes, the costumes looked good—and I LOVE that plaid dress.

    I put this into a similar category as Guernsey L&PPPS, actually, as a film. It’s a smaller story that has its ostensible main tale, but also weaves in some serious themes, including trauma, hurt, and forgiveness, with a literary bent (in this case, writer’s block rather than the meaningfulness of books). It’s not a film I would insist everyone has to see, but I would recommend it for the engaging story with good production values.

  3. Charity

    I loved this, mostly because as a writer, I write very much as Dickens does in this tale — I set out with the best of intentions only to have my characters hijack my plot, decide how their own stories shall end, and demand my constant attention, hounding me with their ideas up until the very end. And, you’ve inspired me. Must go pluck it from my shelf and watch it before Christmas…

  4. Susan Pola Staples

    Saw it too and I enjoyed it. But I’m going to insist on wearing plaid at Dickens faire next year.

  5. Kersten M

    I searched, but is there really no Dan Stevens Man Candy Monday post? I totally thought you guys did one but is that just a fever dream on my part? Just putting that out there because he’s my boyfriend and he’s been in a ton of historical stuff if I recall correctly.

      • Kersten M

        He really does. I think maybe it’s because he has such a classically English look and a longer face, but he’s not uber-symmetrical or square-jawed, so he suits several period styles. He is good-looking, but not god-like perfection. I think he’s be perfect for 18th century styles if you look at paintings from the time.