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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
Ultra-faithful version of the Dickens's classic gets in ALL the story . . . too much?
OLIVER TWIST films live or die by their Olivers and this ultra-faithful six-hour British mini, dies with two inadequate Olivers. Not that the rest of the cast does much better. No one seems able to sustain the heightened characterizations Dickens needs, giving us a sort of loud, generic hamminess that quickly wears out its welcome. Even so, it's a treat to (just once) get all the story (the Artful Dodger has some surprising character turns), and it's certainly preferable to a recent mini-series which added a 'clarifying' preface. Memorable versions by Frank Lloyd, David Lean & Carol Reed each lose almost half of the story; for the better say I. With early Dickens, small sins of omission do wonders for story construction, especially in keeping Oliver in personal danger for the climax.
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