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‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ Brings Dickens to Life

Dan Stevens and director Bharat Nalluri talk Charles Dickens and their film’s lesson in kindness. 

'The Man Who Invented Christmas' Brings Dickens to Life

Charles Dickens’ beloved novel A Christmas Carol is getting a magical retelling on the big screen this holiday season.

From director Bharat Nalluri, The Man Who Invented Christmas, which lands in theaters Nov. 22nd, explores the famous author who wrote one of the world’s most well-known Christmas stories.

The film takes a closer look behind the scenes, delving into Dickens’ childhood, his family life, and the struggles he faced getting A Christmas Carol published during a time when Christmas itself wasn’t very popular.

“This was a fairly religious society but it was regarded as sort of a minor religious festival,” actor Dan Stevens, who brings Dickens to life in the film, tells Guideposts.org. “I think Dickens found something in that sort of midwinter celebration that was very convenient for his tale, the idea of redemptive hope in the very sort of the darkest hour of the year.”

Anyone familiar with Dickens and his work will instantly recognize characters like Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Christopher Plummer) and Tiny Tim in the film but what might surprise people is the tale of Dickens himself, a man separated from his family as a child, forced to slave in a workhouse, who rose up the ranks of society thanks to his talent and determination.

Dickens often wrote about morality, encouraging people to be kind to one another and to aid their fellow man. It was that sense of goodness Nalluri wanted to capture with his film.

“A phrase we use in the film where Dickens says, ‘No person is useless who lightens the burden of another,’ that’s, I think, at the heart of pretty much everything Dickens has done,” Nalluri explains. “In a way, that’s kind of what A Christmas Carol is as well, and for me, I hope we captured an element of that. It’s a joyous, fun piece.”

The film follows Dickens as he races to write his story in just six weeks – a deadline that looms large thanks to the upcoming holiday season and his family’s financial troubles. Nalluri’s film touches on themes of generosity, humanity, and faith — ideas that were integral to who Dickens was as a writer.

“Charles Dickens was a Christian and I think some of his moral values were instilled from that,” Nalluri says.

Ultimately, both the director and its star hope the film can bring a bit of light to families this holiday season and serve as a reminder of the value of tolerance and human kindness.

“I think, genuinely, human beings are good,” Nalluri says. “I think we’re driven to goodness. That’s how we all survive together as a society. Every now and then it can feel a little bleak out there, but I think that’s the genius of Dickens. I think he kind of keeps reminding you that goodness is possible.”

Watch a clip from the film below:

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