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Little Dorrit (1988)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  21 October 1988 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 727 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 9 critic

Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit ... See full summary »

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Title: Little Dorrit (1988)

Little Dorrit (1988) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Max Wall ...
Patricia Hayes ...
Luke Duckett ...
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Sarah Pickering ...
Amelda Brown ...
Daniel Chatto ...
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Bill Fraser ...
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Mollie Maureen ...
Diana Malin ...
Mr. Casby's Maid
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Storyline

Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit and of her father residing in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. Pursuing their cause Arthur comes across a successful business opportunity and also gains a number of new acquaintances, while his and Amy's paths continue to cross. A reversal of fortune lays him low, but to fully understand how, this story must now be seen through Little Dorrit's eyes. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Little Dorrit  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,025,228 (USA)
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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last film role of Joan Greenwood, who portrays "Mrs. Clennam." See more »

Goofs

Arthur and Minnie are in the garden on an apparently warm day. Yet, you can see visible breath vapor as they talk. See more »

Connections

Version of Little Dorrit (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Disappointing
29 May 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Not terrible by all means, but I did find myself underwhelmed watching this Little Dorrit. The book is such a mammoth book, an insightful and blistering piece of literature, but like a lot of Dickens' work very difficult to adapt. Previously I had seen the 2008 BBC version, which I absolutely loved, finding the performances outstanding(especially Tom Courtenay and Andy Serkis) and the whole production rich in detail.

I can definitely understand why some would have a lot of affection for the 1988 Little Dorrit. Production-values-wise it does look wonderful, with the sets evocatively rendered while never looking too clean and the costumes beautifully tailored. The photography is skillful as well. Miriam Margoyles and Pauline Quirke impress, but there are three especially outstanding performances. Derek Jacobi, whose Arthur Clennam is outstanding with an ability sometimes to say so much without saying much. Sarah Pickering whose Amy is every bit as appealing as Claire Foy in the 2088 mini-series, except here I feel the character is written in a more sympathetic way. And Alec Guinness, whose heart-wrenching performance as William Dorrit makes for one of his finest screen performances.

But I can also see why others mayn't like this version too much. Of the acting, I was disappointed in the Flintwitch of Max Wall, he is a good physical actor but saying his lines is another story, I felt he did overdo it. I do admire the effort to include as much of the dialogue as much as possible, but at the end of the day the whole script came across as too wordy and in some scenes overlong. In regards to the music, I preferred the simpler and more subtle one in the 2008 version, here it was overbearing and had a danger of drowning out the dialogue, then again it could've been to do with the sound which was rather muffled. But it was the pace and the storytelling that didn't work the most for me. I do think a slow pace was necessary in the first place considering the sprawling and mammoth nature of the story, but with the pauses, mumbling and lifeless crowd scenes I did actually find it almost insufferably dull pace-wise. And if I hadn't read the book or seen the 2008 mini-series, I don't think I would have been confused by what was going on in this adaptation. I didn't like that it was in two 3-hour parts focusing mainly on either Arthur or Amy and making other characters come and go without elaborating on much(such as Casby being called a hypocrite and the rise and fall of Mr Merdle for examples), as well omitting Tattycoram and one of Dickens' best ever characters Rigaud.

All in all, has some good stuff like the period detail and three outstanding performances, but pace and story-wise this Little Dorrit was disappointing. 5/10 Bethany Cox


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