The Gospel in Dickens
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November 22, 2017


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(SPOILERS AHOY) I enjoyed the movie a lot. Dan Stevens really captured Dickens' gusto and energy. I was surprised and impressed by how the movie showed the dark side of Dickens' personality as well as his good side. (Of course, the movie kind of implied he was able to overcome his character flaws more than the real Dickens was able to do. But I won't complain because the feel-good ending made me....feel good.

The other actors were really good. Even the ones with very small parts made a big impression.

Christopher Plummer was great, but I'm sorry to say the script didn't serve him that well. This Scrooge was pretty one note until the very end of the movie when Dickens scares him into submission. It might have made the relationship between Dickens and his creation more interesting if Dickens had wanted Scrooge to be just an over the top villain, and Scrooge had argued that he was capable of change. Maybe Dickens could have grown more sympathetic towards Scrooge after hearing about his hard childhood. I doubt any of that would have reflected Dickens' actual creative process, but the movie took a good bit creative license anyway, and it would have done more justice to "A Christmas Carol."

There were a lot of lines from "A Christmas Carol" which I wasn't crazy about. I felt like it implied Dickens just copied things isn't of making them up. It's legitimate of course to show how the attitudes of other people inspired Dickens when he was writing, but I think they should rephrased the sentiments instead of taking them directly from the book. There were also a few lines from other Dickens books, but I didn't mind those since they weren't as obvious an inclusion. Actually, I enjoyed them.

Some people might be offended by the movie's negative depiction of Thackeray. (Since I don't really know anything about Thackeray, I didn't care.) For what it's worth, there was a dramatic reason for Thackeray being a jerk: to contrast with the ending where he gives "A Christmas Carol" an almost literally glowing review.

At one point in the movie, Dickens wins a lawsuit against someone for ripping off his work. They don't have any money, but he refuses to have them sent to debtor's prison. Does anyone know if this really happened? (I'm not sure if there were still debtor's prison when "A Christmas Carol" was written.) I know Dickens really hated people infringing his copyrighted material, and he was really not a fan of debtor's prison. It would be interesting to see which of aspects of his personality would win out in real life.

That was an excellent and very thoughtful analysis! I agree with many of your points, especially about the ending tying things up a little too neatly. They had to end it somehow, I understand that, and I guess they picked a pretty good way, but it did feel a bit forced.

I liked Scrooge better than you did, though. He made such a wonderfully snarky voice of conscience (or anti-conscience!). :-)

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