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1839. The young Nell Trent is leading a happy life with her grandfather in his curiosity shop. Wharf owner Daniel Quilp has given large amounts of money to Nell's grandfather as an investment, expecting a large profit. But when Quilp finds out the old man has lost all the money with playing cards, he is determined to get the man in a madhouse as revenge. Nell and her grandfather are forced to leave their house and to start traveling across the country. But Quilp isn't sitting still, his spies are everywhere. Meanwhile a stranger is also looking for Nell's grandfather. Written by
Arnoud Tiele (email@example.com)
The best Dickens-adaptation for TV that I've yet seen!
As a big Dickens-fan I read the book a few years ago and thought it (along with Dombey and Son) one of his best: a road-movie-like coming-of-age story that gives us some of the finest (and most hilarious) of Dickens-characters, like the notorious Quilp, his mother-in-law, Dick Swiveller and the Brass-siblings, and a beautiful description of the English countryside. Although there is a fair amount of (melo)drama involved, Dickens succeeds in keeping a light tone and an fine calculated balance between the laughs, the tears and the fast-paced intrigue. It's some 600 odd pages (in my Penguin copy), and like with all of Dickens' novels I usually am disappointed in any adaptation for the screen: there's just too much going on in the book, too many important characters, too many story-lines, and the necessary cuts - even in the more spacious room of a mini-series - have a way of cramping up the story and caving out the depth and shades out off many of the side-characters to leave them the outline of a mere caricature. So I was very surprised to find that this adaptation completely proved my prejudices wrong. This is an excellent movie! It's very true to the book, almost all the characters have kept there place and there own special charms, and the tone of the movie has exactly the right balance of lightness and seriousness. I had the impression that all the main characters and plot-lines of the novel found (thanks to some very good writing) there place in the movie, apart from leaving out one schoolboy-character who dies somewhere in the middle of the novel, evidently the writer and director found two child-deathbeds a bit too much (as I thought so too when reading the novel, to be honest). The acting is overall great and by some of the cast superb. Peter Ustinov for instance is very convincing as the grandfather who is full of love for Nell as well as full of sinister secrets and he plays his role with a kind of modest dignity. Sally Walsh is excellent too, of course she had the burden of a Dickens-heroine and has to be throughout the whole of the movie this endearing spotless angel. This can easily result in an irritating goody-two-shoes, but Sally Walsh succeeds in keeping up a strong and sympathetic character with just the right mixture of half-child, half grown-up person. However, the undisputed star of this version is Tom Courtenay as the infamous Quilp: the sinister face, the spasmodic movements, the lisped voice and the sardonic humor are brought with just the right amount of restraint to make him totally believable. A special mention should go to William Mannering, the young actor who plays Kit. He didn't have much screen-experience at that time, judging from the information on IMDb, but he gave a great performance an moved me to tears at the dramatic ending. The direction by Kevin Connor was very good, as was the beautiful photography and settings. An absolute 10!!
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