Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

11.12.17

The Man Who Invented the Sentimental Novel.

On an unseasonally hot day in October 1965, I was taken to see a movie at the Paris Cinema in Bourke Street, Melbourne. In the film, The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer played Captain von Trapp, and was later scathing about the movie.

Last week I saw Plummer play Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas, this time at Village Airport West, which was a field of thistle with Vickers Viscounts flying over it in 1965. Right now is the time of year when Christmas-themed movies hit the cinemas, but The Man Who Invented Christmas is not really about Christmas. It is about Charles Dickens' struggle to write a book following two 'failures' after several hits. It should have been titled Famous Novelist Suffers Writer's Block for 104 Gripping Minutes, but that would not have helped box office sales.

Dickens is struggling to pay the bills, his agent is getting nervous, he is continually interrupted by family members, and his destitute father comes to stay. Then he sacks the most pleasant person in the movie, the Irish maid. Stupid Charles Dickens. His characters come alive and sit around in his studio insulting him while he is trying to write about them. There are flashbacks to his childhood when he was abandoned by his father and consigned to the workhouse.

Dickens finally succeeds writing a quickie in six weeks (what writer's block?) and A Christmas Carol never goes out of print (nor do the two 'failures').

No writer should miss The Man Who Invented Christmas.

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