Charles Dickens' classical story about the young orphan boy in 1837 England is again re-filmed in grand fashion. Richard Dreyfuss portrays Fagin, the unscrupulous leader of the young ... See full summary »
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Courtney B. Vance,
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Charles Dickens' classical story about the young orphan boy in 1837 England is again re-filmed in grand fashion. Richard Dreyfuss portrays Fagin, the unscrupulous leader of the young pick-pockets Oliver (Alex Trench) initially falls in with after escaping from a sweat shop and going to London to find his relatives. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
This is the first adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous novel that I came to see.
The cast is simply great. Elijah Wood is a very cunning Artful Dodger. I was particularly fond of his wonderful British accent, which he delivers in the contemporary manner of old-fashioned grammar and marked shifts in intonation and stress. This must have been quite challenging for an American actor I take my hat off to his performance. Alex Trench, who seems to have no movie record whatsoever apart from his appearance here, is a very convincing and well-cast Oliver Twist. He embodies the right combination of natural humor, a handsome appearance and genuine acting skills in front of the camera. I hope that Harry Eden and Barney Clark will be able to live up to the performances of Elijah and Alex in this year's new Polanski adaptation. Fagin, the sly and ambivalent chief of the pickpocket gang who takes Oliver under his wings and develops into a kind of mentor for the young boy who is stranded in the bleak streets of London is played by veteran actor Richard Dreyfuss. He manages to portray the slightly overdone eccentricity of Fagin in a way that is indeed a bit oversubscribed, but nonetheless fitting into the frame of the movie as a whole.
The plot and storyline development is very close to the original artwork by Dickens. The movie starts with Oliver's mother and his birth, his growing up years and the harsh life in the orphanage. It very deliberately focuses on his development and the milieu he is born into, thus setting the stage for his adventures and marking the motivation that makes him break free. It needs not to be said that Oliver's quest for a better life is very much a significant part of the story, as his grandfather and the old man's niece step into his life when he is on the verge of becoming a criminal. Alex is now in this classic scenario Dickens so craftily elaborates on, caught between these two strata, between the bleak and dirty streets of London and the prospect of a wealthy life. His adventures need not to be outlined here any further they are fairly well-known, and those who are not familiar with them ought to get the movie.
The visuals in the movie are stunning and need to be applauded regarding the low budget of the production and its arrangement as a TV movie. They very much apply to Dickens' perception of the contemporary features of London which he so eloquently describes in his writing. The pace of the plot development, the camera work and the level of suspense that makes up the last third of the movie is sincerely implemented and perfectly transformed.
This version of Oliver Twist is exciting and interesting to watch. It features well-known actors and delivers the essential spirit of Dickens' masterpiece in a way that merits the famous title. Get it and enjoy the atmosphere, the visuals, the acting and the messages involved. I award it with a 8 because of its basic quality and the flawless plot. Wonderful accomplishment!
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