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Monday, May 26, 2008

OLIVER TWIST (1985)

OLIVER TWIST films live or die by their Olivers and this ultra-faithful six-hour British mini, dies with two inadequate Olivers. Not that the rest of the cast does much better. No one seems able to sustain the heightened characterizations Dickens needs, giving us a sort of loud, generic hamminess that quickly wears out its welcome. Even so, it’s a treat to (just once) get all the story (the Artful Dodger has some surprising character turns), and it’s certainly preferable to a recent mini-series which added a ‘clarifying’ preface. Memorable versions by Frank Lloyd, David Lean & Carol Reed each lose almost half of the story; for the better say I. With early Dickens, small sins of omission do wonders for story construction, especially in keeping Oliver in personal danger for the climax.

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