An adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master.


Roman Polanski


Charles Dickens (novel), Ronald Harwood (screenplay)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Barney Clark ... Oliver Twist
Jeremy Swift ... Mr. Bumble
Ian McNeice ... Mr. Limbkins
Richard Durden ... Unkind Board Member
Timothy Bateson ... Parson / Man with a Punch
Andy de la Tour Andy de la Tour ... Workhouse Master
Filip Hes Filip Hes ... Workhouse Boy
Andreas Papadopoulos Andreas Papadopoulos ... Workhouse Boy
Laurie Athey Laurie Athey ... Workhouse Boy
Joseph Tremain ... Hungry Boy
Peter Copley ... Dining Hall Master
Andy Linden Andy Linden ... Mr. Gamfield - the Chimney Sweep
John Nettleton ... 1st Magistrate
Tony Noble Tony Noble ... 2nd Magistrate
Michael Heath ... Mr. Sowerberry


In the Nineteenth Century, orphan Oliver Twist is sent from the orphanage to a workhouse, where the children are mistreated and barely fed. He moves to the house of an undertaker, but after an unfair severe spank, he starts a seven day runaway to London. He arrives exhausted and starving, and is soon welcomed in a gang of pickpockets lead by the old crook Fagin. When he is mistakenly taken as a thief, the wealthy victim Mr. Brownlow brings Oliver to his home and shelters him. But Fagin and the dangerous Bill Sykes decide to kidnap Oliver to burglarize Mr. Brownlow's fancy house. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Most of the sets designed were inspired by the work of the famous illustrator Gustave Doré (although Doré never did actually illustrate any of Charles Dickens' novels). See more »


The shop "John Lobb - Bootmaker" is visible in the background in London. The story takes place in the late 1830s, but the well- known London boot maker John Lobb wasn't founded until 1866. See more »


Fagin: Do you know what I consider the greatest sin in the world, my dear? Ingratitude. That's what you're guilty of. Ingratitude.
See more »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER: Footage of the beating of Nancy from Bill was cut in the UK to obtain a "PG" rating. See more »


Version of Le théâtre de la jeunesse: Oliver Twist (1962) See more »


Newry Town
Performed by Jumbo Brightwell
Courtesy of Topic Records
See more »

User Reviews

Not Much of a Twist
1 February 2006 | by TashCSee all my reviews

Adapted from the classic Dickens tale, Oliver Twist is the story of an idealistic orphan struggling to survive in a savage adult world. A world where hypocrisy, greed and cunning are celebrated and there are only rare glimpses of compassion.

The film focuses on the key events of the Dickens novel, excluding many of the subplots and associated characters. It opens with Oliver's (Barney Clark) arrival at the workhouse of "Please Sir, can I have some more" fame and follows his escape to London and its dingy underworld. Here he falls in with a band of pickpockets led by Fagin (Ben Kingsley) - a central character typifying hypocrisy, greed and cunning - but finds salvation in the form of Mr Brownlow (Edward Hardwicke) who recognizes the goodness in Oliver and endeavors to extract him from his, albeit unsuccessful, life of thievery.

As he did with his award-winning, "The Pianist", Polanksi drew on his own life experiences as an orphan in the ghettos in World War II to recreate certain moods. Grim, grimy and often claustrophobic, "Oliver Twist" startlingly depicts a callous world where children live at the whim of ruthless, self-serving adults. But the horror of this dark, unforgiving world is relieved by the inclusion of humour and banter throughout, making the film both captivating and entertaining.

As Oliver, Barney Clark exemplifies the helplessness of an innocent at the mercy of strangers and being manipulated for their benefit. As noted by Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker, "There's an expression of melancholy in his face, my dear, which is very interesting. He'd make a delightful mute". And mute and incapacitated - be it through hunger, illness, injury and/or fear - he is for much of the film. Other than a surprising brief show of defiance that takes him from the coal shed and sets him on the road to London, there is little evidence of any determination, strength or willfulness at all in this Oliver. But unfortunately there is little to endear him either and the film suffers for it.

Harry Eden has more depth and is much more compelling as the Artful Dodger. Plucky and likable, his struggle with the consequences of his betrayal of Nancy (Leanne Rowe) is agonising. Ben Kingsley is masterful and almost unrecognizable as Fagin. Depicted as pure evil in the novel, Polanksi strives to give this character humanity and meaning. The result is a foul, exploitative, groveling survivor –a desperate and pitiful villain, but not a completely heartless one.

The elimination of many of the twists of the novel means that this film may disappoint viewers familiar with the intriguing undercurrents of Dickens' plot and richness of his characters' and their relationships. The only incredible discovery that Oliver makes in this version is that there is a better life to either the workhouse or the den of thieves.

While adaptation to film necessitates simplification of the story and as Polanksi points out "For today's taste, you need to abandon a certain amount of melodrama that was very typical for the period", it is easy to feel that in this paring down we have been left with an entertaining adventure set in 19th century Britain. When it comes to this Oliver, less is not more.

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France | UK | Czech Republic | Italy



Release Date:

30 September 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oliver Twist See more »

Filming Locations:

Czech Republic See more »


Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$68,447, 25 September 2005

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS (8 channels)| SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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