This post has been contributed by Gina Dalfonzo.
In 2011, historian and author Les Standiford published The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. The book was an insightful, very thorough exploration of the many factors that contributed to the writing of Dickens’s Christmas classic, its reception, and its legacy.
Now The Man Who Invented Christmas is about to become a movie. Deadline.com reported last month,
Bleecker Street has acquired U.S. rights to The Man Who Invented Christmas, a new movie to be directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). . . . Susan Coyne (Mozart in the Jungle) penned the adaptation. The pic is set to begin production in December ahead of a planned 2017 release.
A cast worthy of such an endeavor has been lined up. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast) will play Charles Dickens. Stage and screen legends Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce will play Ebenezer Scrooge and Charles Dickens’s father, respectively.
With all these characters present, it seems that we will be seeing a tale-within-a-tale—that we will see the events of A Christmas Carol acted out as Dickens spins the story. And with Dickens’s career, finances, and self-esteem so tied to the success of his new work, the stakes should be high indeed.
As Standiford writes,
He was no child of privilege. There was no trust fund backing his endeavors. There was no family estate to which he might retire. He was, as is often said, only as good as his next book.
Not only that, but he had, as usual, an idea that he was passionate to communicate—a strong sense of both justice and mercy that he desperately wanted to share. As Standiford explains, in Dickens’s most recent work before this—written in the wake of a disappointing visit to America that awakened his most sarcastic, savage instincts—he had given in to “browbeating and scolding . . . mounting a soapbox.” Thus, he also was in need of a literary rebirth, a story that he could tell that would “get a point across” through more winsome, beguiling methods.
The Man Who Invented Christmas—hyperbolic as its title may be!—is thus a great story in its own right and a great film waiting to be made. At this very early stage, of course, nothing is guaranteed. As a Dickens aficionado, I have seen, sad to say, many a promised adaptation vanish without a trace. Let us hope for better things for this film, for its story deserves to be told.
Gina Dalfonzo is editor of Dickensblog.