Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - L

Film 1 Little Dorrit: Nobody's Fault Movie Review

guinness dickens edzard david

The Charles Dickens the 20th century prefers to remember is the man who wrote about the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Dickens also wrote about the boys David and Oliver who evolved, at least on film, into nostalgic symbols of wretched childhoods whose lives were sweetened by sudden charity. Yet Dickens was also a severe critic of a 19th century society that lionized apparent success and imprisoned economic failures. Little Dorrit was originally published as a monthly serial between 1855 and 1857, and it might be easier on contemporary admirers to see Christine Edzard's splendid film in one- or two-hour portions. However, seeing all six hours in one day will allow you to indulge yourself in the full cumulative power of the narrative as well as the sheer beauty of Edzard's skillful interpretation. Also, the parallel structures of parts one and two, both with subtle but definite variations in points of view, provide treats best appreciated in single day viewings. You won't find any of the things which are usually so wrong with today's movies about the past in Little Dorrit; no garish lighting, no bright lipsticks, no synthetic fabrics. What you will find is a vivid, unsentimental look at London from another time. Forty years after he played Herbert Pocket in David Lean's Great Expectations, Alec Guinness is magnificent as William Dorrit, whose poverty is only made bearable by constant self-deception. It's a complex, fascinating role, and Guinness makes the most of it. Another stunning character, played by Miriam Margolyes, offers a detailed portrait of Flora, a coquette who never grew up but instead grew out (and out and out). She is reminiscent of Dora, the delicate child bride of David Copperfield and for good reason. Both Dora and Flora are based on Maria Beadnell, with whom Dickens fell in love as a young man. In real life, she didn't die as a beautiful girl, but married another man and became, in her own words, “fat, old, and ugly.” We see Flora fluttering about and are saddened, as Dickens must have been, by the realization that such a surfeit of charm is only bearable in the very young. Also worth watching are the sharp exchanges between the late Joan Greenwood as Mrs. Clennam and Max Wall as her wily steward Flintwich, plus the bitchy competition between Amelda Brown as Fanny Dorrit and Eleanor Bron as a banker's snobbish wife.

1988 180m/C GB Alec Guinness, Derek Jacobi, Cyril Cusack, Sarah Pickering, Joan Greenwood, Max Wall, Amelda Brown, Daniel Chatto, Miriam Margolyes, Bill Fraser, Roshan Seth, Michael Elphick, Eleanor Bron, Patricia Hayes, Robert Morley, Sophie Ward; D: Christine Edzard; W: Christine Edzard; C: Bruno de Keyzer; M: Giuseppe Verdi. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘88: Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Guinness); Nominations: Academy Awards ‘88: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Guinness). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

Film 2 Little Dorrit: Little Dorrit's Story Movie Review [next] [back] Lisztomania Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or