Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this adaptation traces the childhood of an orphan whose mother dies giving birth to him in an English work-house in the 1820s. Little Oliver Twist, already abused, starved and overworked, is apprenticed to an undertaker and runs away to London after being bullied by an older apprentice. There, he is taken in by Fagin, a fence and thief-trainer, and his gang of pickpockets. He is befriended by Nancy, a good-hearted prostitute, and meets her lover, the brutal housebreaker Bill Sikes. But attempts by the gang to discredit him result in his being taken in by Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy and charitable man, who proves the catalyst for Oliver's discovery of his background and identity. Here Alan Bleasdale's dramatisation differs from Dickens' novel, in that Oliver does not fall into Brownlow's hands by coincidence, and we already know his back story: he's the child of a young woman named Agnes Fleming and her married lover, Edwin Leeford, who dies while on a trip...Written by
The version which ran on ITV in England and CBC in Canada in late 1999 consisted of four two-hour episodes with commercials; the video for sale in the UK runs 386 minutes. When PBS ran the series on Masterpiece Theater in October 2000, it consisted of three two-hour episodes without commercials; the video available in North America runs 360 minutes. See more »
I am a huge Dickens fan. I have read Oliver Twist, and have even written college papers on the novel. This movie is by far the best version of Oliver Twist ever made (this includes David Lean's movie, the Polanski version, and the musical). The casting is superb; Robert Lindsay (Fagin) is one of the best character actors I have ever seen, Michael Kitchen plays Mr. Brownlow to perfection, and Andy Serkis (Bill Sykes) brings out every ounce of Bill's brutal personality with excellent feel for the character. Yes, the movie necessarily takes what the novel originally revealed in the last pages (concerning Oliver's parentage and the mystery surrounding his birth) and more fully dramatizes it; this is the nature of the beast. Making movies about books is difficult enough, especially with Dickens' panache for complicated plots. But this version of the movie brings out every element of Dickens' story with taste and excellence. One of the best Dickens adaptations out there.
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