This recent adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist is just one more in a long, long series, would you say. And you would be wrong. But what can it bring that could be new on a subject we all know since this book and this story are classics that everyone knows and that are even at times kind of over-repeated. Roman Polanski decides to renew the treatment of the theme by using the fact that we know all major events and episodes by going as fast as possible on the core of the episodes and insisting on what is around, before or after. If the episode is hard, like Nancy's death, he uses an ellipse that shortens it. If the episode is over-known, like the begging for more porridge, he centers the scene on the drawing of who is going to volunteer, and then on what comes before and follows. That enables Polanski to avoid melodrama and a sentimentalese treatment and to concentrate on the human side of things. He is helped in his attempt by the admirable acting of Ben Kingsley as Fagan. Of course Polanski cannot bring anything new on the subject and he concentrates on the pictorial and plastic beauty of this color adaptation and on the extreme sincerity of the actors, good or evil. But is it able to erase the unforgettable post-war black and white adaptation in our memory? Probably not, but they are so different that they don't compete.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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