In 1965, I heard A Christmas Carol for the first time on WTFM, an FM radio station in New York, when one of the DJs read the story on Christmas Eve in lieu of Christmas Music. I was fascinated with the entire story and after Christmas went to the library to get the book.
Then, one Christmas season in the late 60s or early 70s, I saw the movie with Alistair Sim and was completely hooked. It has become a tradition for me ever since. And I own four DVD versions of the story.
Later, I read that Charles Dickens had fallen on hard times as several books did not do as well as they should have. He needed money to be able to buy present for his family and was desperate. He struggled with ideas until finally, in October, 1843, he began to work on A Christmas Carol. On December 19, 1843, it was published for the first time and by Christmas Eve the entire first edition was sold out.
Fast forward to September of this year. Our client, Cross Pens, asked us to provide the social creative for the posts you have been seeing on the Madison Avenue Social and Cross social sites since early November for The Man Who Invented Christmas.
is thrilled to help #CrossPens – who has created a special Exclusive which ties into this incredible Bleecker Street Media film, as a perfect holiday gift for your favorite writer or artist. All for just $95. Obviously, since Dickens was a writer and Cross produces writing instruments, it was a perfect match.
So much for the set-up and advertisement. Now to the movie.
The movie begins in 1842, in New York City, as Charles Dickens, played magnificently by Dan Stevens, was being feted for his successes as a writer. He was on the top of the world, with nothing in his way. By October, 1843, he had written and published three books which were critical flops and was paid little to no money. He had fallen from the epitome of success to the bottom of English society in a matter of months, and was in huge debt, as it happens, because he lived beyond his means.
He was suffering from writers’ block and felt that the coming Christmas would be a disaster for his family, when he decided to go out for a walk to his favorite hangout. On his way, his mind was racing. Subconsciously, he began to formulate ideas from the people he saw and from the street scenes in front of him.
Without giving too much away, he ran into some of the people he made memorable in the story: Marley, the waiter at the pub; Edward Chapman, his jolly friend and publisher who becomes Christmas Present; Tara, his children’s caretaker, who was an orphan herself, who becomes Christmas Past; a dancing couple in the street who became Mr and Mrs Fezziwig; and of course, Ebenezer Scrooge, played by the great Christopher Plummer. These are the demons and angels who become residents in his head, as he struggles with the story, until finally it coalesces as the great story we know today.
To me, I found this story to ride the emotional wave, from sadness to joy, feeling the bitterness Dickens (Stevens) felt to the humor and sheer glee when he realizes his accomplishments in only six weeks. Along the way, we see him flashback to his childhood, when his father abandoned him at the bootblack factory; his father’s miserly actions, when he sells his son’s autographs; all the personal demons which made him who he was.
Ultimately, this is a story you can enjoy and can relate to with your family. As you watch the movie, you realize how the characters come to life, how he rides that emotional rollercoaster and finally, share in the joy he feels as he accomplishes the impossible. Dickens was able to take the religious story of Christmas and give it a secular spin, teaching us about charity, kindness and caring for others.
I will definitely see The Man Who Invented Christmas again before Christmas. And next year, when the DVD is released, I will buy it to add to my Christmas Carol collection.
Frank McHale is the Chief Operations Officer of Madison Avenue Social.