As we enter the world of Robert Zemeckis’ a Christmas Carol, with its 3D, Acting talent and obviously large budget, we forget the real genius behind this film and it is Charles dickens
There is a film that has been released about the life of Charles dickens that stars the great Christopher Plummer as Scrooge and the up and coming Dan Stevens as Mr Dickens. It is called “the man who invented Christmas”
Whilst the title may seem a bit over the top, after a little research…..google. It may seem that it is not that far from the truth. Obviously the film is a stylised version but there are a lot of points relevant to the celebration of Christmas that was popularised or even Repopularised by Dickens.
I guess the most significant impact was the term “Merry Christmas”. Whilst the words existed before the story, the use of “merry Christmas” as a positive celebration of the time, was cemented by A Christmas carol. We now shout it merrily instead of hello. We also feel merry in saying it. This is all due to this masterful tale by Charles Dickens
Inspired by his own Christmas experiences as well as visit to a school for street children, Dickens first published “A Christmas Carol” in 19th December 1844. It had sold out by Christmas Eve and by the New Year, 13 more editions were printed. Suffering financial hardship as an author at the time of publishing, the success of his novel would only bring him minor peace as Dickens did not get his Rowling size comeuppance, as the illustrations, gilded edges and size of the book added to printing costs that eventually created a more humble profit for him.
Time and legacy were truly the greater profit for the novel as 120 years on, numerous books, movies, stage plays and interpretations have been made and of course…Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture version. My favourite is still Muppets Christmas carol followed by Scrooged and then Zemeckis…sshhh don’t tell anyone!!
However let’s go back to the impact in culture, not including entertainment.
Christmas Carol created the term “Bah Humbug” that I admit to using out of the festive season. Then there is Scrooge, One word that can fully describe someone without too much explanation. This is a term that is now reserved for those not in touch with the Christmas spirit. But what is the Christmas spirit? Well this is another thing that whilst not coined by Dickens. It is clearly defined by him (he literally introduced Christmas spirits!!). With this tale of redemption, philanthropy and family, Dickens gave many the idea of Christmas spirit and helped bring families together and appreciate each other. It helped Christmas emerge as a MAJOR Holiday as it was considered a 2nd rate holiday at the time. Also, unfortunately for one type of bird, it also popularised Turkey as the Christmas meat.
To steal a beautiful paragraph from Robert Frost at the Huffpost
Dickens tale gave use all something to celebrate. An ideal of sorts, which we all strive for over the Christmas period. He highlighted the worlds of the less fortunate as well as workplace reform. Mr Cratchitt being the beneficiary of his employer Mr Scrooges change in attitude.
But it is generally agreed that the greatest impact from his novel was on an individual’s generosity. With donations sky rocketing around Christmas then and every Christmas since.
This is the amazing legacy of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. A spooky tale that brought warmth, love and redemption to Christmas.
Dickens name would become so synonymous with the Christmas period that, supposedly, at the news of Dicken’s death it was said a young woman yelled aghast “Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?”