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In a storm, in a workhouse, to a nameless woman, young Oliver Twist is born into parish care where he's overworked and underfed. As he grows older his adventures take him from the countryside to London, through harsh treatment, kindness, an undertaker, and a thieves' dens, where he makes friends and enemies. But all the time he is pursued by the mysterious Monks, who hires Fagin to turn Oliver into a thief. Oliver is rescued by chance and kind friends. But it's a puzzle of legitimacy, inheritance, and identity that Oliver's friends must attempt to unravel before Monks can destroy Oliver. Written by
Long version permits depth of detail, rich character development
This is an excellent version, well-acted, long enough to permit inclusion of Dickens' myriad confusing plots that keep the viewer guessing. It is broken into 12 28-minute episodes, reminiscent of the way Dickens serialized his novels. I dare anybody to watch just one - every one's a cliffhanger inviting you onwards. The acting is outstanding, though the strong dialect caused me to miss some lines. As Scott Funnell has noted in an earlier comment, the child actor who coincidentally has the same name does an outstanding job (and is rather adorable) as the young Oliver, as does the actor playing the larger (but according to Scott less important) role of the older Oliver.
This is one of a whole series of superb BBC adaptations of the major Dickens novels, every one a gem. Like some of the others, the DVD re-release of Oliver Twist includes as an extra an excellent performance by Simon Callow as Charles Dickens, reading a lengthy passage from the novel, recreating Dickens' own reading tours that played to packed houses. Don't miss it!
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