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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
From Dudley Simpson's haunting title music to Eric Porter's sinister Fagin, this is truest adaptation of the book that I know.
The production values are spot-on, capturing the filth and seediness of Dickens' London. Michael Attwell is the most menacing of Bill Sykes and Ben Rodska makes Oliver innocent without being too goody-goody.
If that were not enough, the length of the production (6 hours) means that, for once, the sub-plots are included and the main plots are laid out as Dickens wrote them.
If 6 hours is too long then David Lean still represents the safest bet but, for the purist, this will probably never be improved upon.
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