24 Days of Blogging Day 19: “God rest ye merry, gentlemen”

Image result for the man who invented christmasTonight I saw (thanks to the miracle of MoviePass…talk about your Christmas miracles!” The Man Who Invented Christmas.  It was an enjoyable seasonal movie, mixing light biography, literary history, and fantasy, capturing the story of the creation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  The title is based on the widely-believed story that the modern Christmas owes its origins to people emulating Dickens’ novel (probably not true…at least overstated), but the story focuses on the precarious and chaotic series of events that led to one of the best loved Christmas traditions.

In attempting to capture the creative process (movies of writers sitting silently at the page are not compelling) the movie brings many of the characters to life, and Dickens interacts with them as he discovers this story after a dip in his critical approval.  The story is told large, with a Christoper Plummer Scrooge who alternately chews the scenery while acting as an antagonistic therapist for Charlie.  Dickens is tormented at various times by his writer’s block, his spendthrift father, his own crumbling finances, his memories of childhood in the workhouse, and a growing social conscience and concern for the poor.

Much of the drama in the second half is based in Dickens’ inability to finish the story against an impending deadline.  In this telling (and I doubt this is real) the character of Scrooge was originally intended as a cautionary tale for the unfeeling rich, a story drawn home by his inevitable final bad end, unloved and damned for all eternity.  In other words, there was no plan for Scrooge’s redemption.  His punishment was the moral of the story and vengeance for Dickens’ own anger over his impoverished childhood.  Only through coming to terms with this anger allows Dickens to save his old miser.  The story could have turned out completely differently.  Tiny Tim was supposed to die.

We know Christmas stories so well that we can no longer separate the beginning from the end.  Scrooge is redeemed, George Bailey is saved, Mary and Joseph find a stable (and don’t get me started on Hallmark Channel movies).  In reality life is much messier, Scrooges don’t change very often (even though everyone in a sitcom who has a similar experience in a Christmas episode has the same outcome). It is worth while sometimes to recognize the non-inevitability of the Christmas story…it didn’t have to go this way, and every time it happened…or happens…it is a miracle.

As always, I welcome your comments

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Date: Wednesday, 20. December 2017 5:15
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