The Man Who Invented Christmas Didn’t Write Like That

I went to see The Man Who Invented Christmas.  I liked it.  It is a highly fictionalized account of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, which is one of my favorite books.  The drama of the movie comes from the fact that Dickens only gave himself six weeks to complete the book so that the book could be released by Christmas.  As a writer, I can appreciate that.  But, there was one thing, again as a writer, that I had trouble with.

The way they ratcheted up the tension in the movie was by having the deadline looming with Dickens still not knowing how the story should end.  According to this movie, Charles Dickens, the author of A Christmas Carol, didn’t know that Scrooge would have a change of heart at the end.  It was, again according to the movie, a surprise for the author when Scrooge said, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future.  The Spirits of all three shall strive within me.”  That’s just a bit much for me to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief.

The whole point of the book is Scrooge’s awakening.  None of what comes before makes sense if Scrooge remains a miser at the end of the book.  Scrooge’s nephew, his sister, Mr. Fezziwig, his lost love, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim are completely pointless characters if Scrooge fails to change.  In fact, there is no plot in A Christmas Carol if Scrooge fails to change.  Dickens must have known from the beginning, before he announced that Marley was dead, that Scrooge changed.  If not, he wasn’t a great writer, he was the luckiest hack who ever lived.

That being said, I did enjoy the movie.  If you like Dickens, A Christmas Carol or Christmas movies, I recommend it.  Just don’t go into it thinking you’ll get any insight about how writers write and you should enjoy it.

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