Friday, February 7, 2014

The Top Ten Dickens Adaptations

A dear girl suggested that I do a post listing my favorite Charles Dickens adaptations and talking a little about them.  Splendid idea. :D

I'm going to do this in the form of Top Ten, even though I have seen more than that... I may mention the others I've seen at the end.  Anyway, we're going to go from Tenth Favorite to Top Favorite.  Ready, set, go.

A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical
This would actually be higher (or lower, in this case) on the list if it wasn't for a couple things.  It's not that it's a musical.  I've, um, kind of outgrown that prejudice.  Haha.  It's because it's not really an adaptation-- not a movie, anyway.  In fact, I haven't even been able to watch one that's actually a full play-- the 2009 concert thingy is what I saw, and though they did remarkably well for not having much of a set and having the orchestra right behind them, it's just not quite the same.  But it was remarkably gripping, I thought, for being the way it was.  They didn't refrain from actually acting and they had costumes.  (Costumes are just important.  They are.) 

{Side note of sorts: I really, really wish that there was a 'real' adaptation of ATOTC.  And for goodness' sake, I cannot figure out why there isn't-- it's one of Dickens' most famous works, yet the most recent miniseries/movie was from 1989.  It's not as if they're without resources (two versions of Great Expectations being made at the same time? Seriously?). }

But anyways.  The musical is really good and I'd recommend it, especially for anyone who's read the book and wants to watch some version of it.
IMDbWatch Online | {trailer on IMDb page}

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)
I'm not actually a very big fan of this one.  But it was a new BBC period drama with interesting costumes and recognizable actors, and that pleased me.  It's not as good as your usual Dickens, because only part of it was made up by him; this is his unfinished novel.  And I'm really not sure how much was Dickens and how much was... whoever wrote the script (and I'm too lazy to look it up).  It was still interesting enough... although some of it was a bit too gruesome for my taste.  Really, you don't need to keep showing us a decaying body, okay?  *cough*  Oh, but did I mention that it's got Alun Armstrong?

Great Expectations (2011)
First of all, I really don't like the story of Great Expectations.  I hear that you can't really know until you read the book, which I haven't, but judging from the two versions I've seen (three, if you count Wishbone :P)... I don't like it.  It's really weird, and really dark.  And though this one seemed to play up the weirdness rather than try to make less of it, it did have some redeeming features and--like I said about Edwin Drood--hey, new period drama! :D  Haha.  I've only seen this once so far. (Really, by the way, my choices for 7-10 can kind of be switched around depending on my mood and what I feel more like watching at the time.)  Some of this movie has a few parts in the violence department where I don't really want to look too closely, I remember.  Anyways, I guess what I did like of this one was more for the period drama than the story itself. Sorry, any fans.  I don't really even like hardly any of the characters; I think that's the main problem.  Herbert Pocket is my favorite, if I remember correctly. ;D

David Copperfield (2000)
I did enjoy this version of David Copperfield, but unfortunately I could only get it on YouTube (the library doesn't have it, sniff) and it wasn't the greatest quality.  In the 1999 version (which I'll be talking about in a bit), David actually annoyed me quite a bit, as did Dora, aside from their characters... it was the actors.  So there were some things I liked better about this one. (Although Hugh Dancy really need a haircut.) Also it's just fun to have a fresh take on it.  And Anthony Andrews... although if you ask me, he just doesn't suit a villain-ish character very well.  His laugh still sounds too nice. ;)

Martin Chuzzlewit (1994)
It took me a bit longer to watch this one since it's sort of an 'older' one and not as well-known... really, though, it's only made the year before my favorite version of Pride and Prejudice, and in the end I'd kind of put it in-between an older BBC miniseries and a newer one as far as how well-made (and not slow-moving) it is.  The story ended up being really interesting, though.  I didn't expect quite as much from it since I hadn't heard quite as much about it.  And it was hilarious seeing Julia Sawalha in another giggly role-- she did sound just like Lydia Bennet.  As I mentioned in the recent villains post, a couple characters in this one really boil my blood... and then there's Tom Pinch who is SO nice that it kind of balances things.  (I always feel sorry for him at the end, though.  He deserved some great reward for his niceness. *sniff*)

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
I really do like this movie.  It's one of the few actual Charles Dickens movies I've seen (that is, most of them are miniseries) but at least it's long-ish for a movie.  It has a host of recognizable actors, music by Rachel Portman, tons of quotables, a lot of funny stuff and a lot of touching stuff, exciting bits, romantical bits... what more do you look for in a period drama? ;) It does have a slightly different feel to it than most Dickens, and I can't speak for the accuracy to the book but I do know it must be pretty condensed.  However, I've heard from whose who have read the book (or have tried) that that's not necessarily a bad thing...

David Copperfield (1999)
A lot of the acting in this miniseries is marvelous.  I do so love Maggie Smith as Betsey Trotwood.  And Alun Armstrong in his role, obviously.  Pretty much everything about the miniseries is really good, actually, and that's why it gets fourth.  It's still not my favorite story as a whole (David can be so STUPID sometimes) but it is really engaging.  Like I said earlier, a major drawback is that a couple of the main actors annoy me a lot and obviously that's a little hard to ignore, but... :P

Our Mutual Friend (1998)
THIS STORY IS BRILLIANT.  Okay, just had to get that out there.  But really.  :D  It's one of those huge stories with a whole bunch of characters... that is, your classic Charles Dickens, heehee.  A lot of variety in social classes, too, and that's always interesting.  There is one scene that I always skip, but was fortunately informed where it would be and I just covered the screen for that part.  It's nothing bad in the actual plot (if you want more details, I'd be happy to supply them).  This is one of those long ones... nearly six hours, I think?  But very worth it.

Bleak House (2005)
This story is also brilliant, and very complex and mysterious-- I guess the reason I was all-in-caps-ing about the last one is because it seems to be less well-known and watched.  But anyways, if you haven't seen this one, you really should.  It's great.  It can be a bit heavy and dramatic, yes, and as a true and proper Victorian novel, people tend to die off (one of them is even murdered, muwahahaha), but the whole thing is not bleak.  Beware its length, however; it's eight hours long but you might be tempted to devour it all at once regardless because it keeps you right at the edge of your seat. ;)  (Did I mention Alun Armstrong is in this one too?)

Little Dorrit (2008)
And my top pick probably just surprised you all greatly.  (Ha.  Sarcasm.  I do not hide my love for this miniseries.)  It's amazing.  If you are a period drama fan and haven't seen this, I pity you greatly.  Again, tons of characters, some of them extremely annoying, but some very endearing, and the rest crazy; brilliant plot, weird names, mystery, just... Dickens in a nutshell.  A big nutshell, though.  This one is also about eight hours.  Truly a miniseries, people, and it's not meant to be watched all at once.  (Unless you're my mom.)  Now me, I like the length.  When good things are too short it makes me sad. ;)  (On a side note... Alun Armstrong.  Again.  He likes Dickens.) There are a few scenes I choose to skip, but more information can be found about that in my review which should be linked to on the sidebar.

So there you have it, everyone!  Oh, other adaptations I've seen:
~Nicholas Nickleby (2001)-- I also only watched this one on YouTube, and there were some things I like about it, but some things I really didn't (like some inappropriate content... the other version was much better that way).  
~A Tale of Two Cities (1980)-- It's just quite old, but I enjoyed it anyways at least somewhat... I read the book and wanted to watch an adaptation afterwards.  And it has David Suchet, but I actually saw this before getting into the Poirot series so that didn't mean much to me at the time. ;)  (Same story with Great Expectations 2011, actually.)
~Oliver! (1968)-- Musical for Oliver Twist.  I did like it, just not enough to be in the top ten.
~Great Expectations (1998)-- This version was all right, too... I still just don't much like the story.  And there were only two funny lines in the whole thing... and sadly both were left out of the 2011 version.  Sniff.
~The Old Curiosity Shop (2007)-- Boy, this was depressing!  I don't remember much about it other than that, though.

Okay, now I'm done.  (For pity's sake, don't cheer so loudly...)


Heidi P. (Lady of Anorien) said...

Another good post. :) I like the the 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby, too-though I'd possibly still like to see the 2001 version. Does it have a lot of parts to skip? The '02 does condense a lot, but I think they did an excellent job capturing the essence of the story. Book-wise, I actually like David Copperfield the best-which makes me both eager (and not-so-eager) to see an adaptation. :) A good one would be such fun though!

Natalie said...

I LOVE Little Dorrit, too! :)It's one of my new favorite period dramas! Other than that, I've seen none of the other Charles Dickens movies, although I'd really like too. What part would you recommend skipping in Our Mutual Friend? And how is Bleak House? Anything to skip there?
Sorry for all the questions. ;)

Ella said...

I haven't seen some of these so I will have to put them on my to watch list.
I have seen 'Bleak House', 'Our Mutual Friend', and 'Nicholas Nickleby' and I really liked all of them.

I hope you have a great day in the Lord!

Kiri Liz said...

Ah! Your top three are my top three also!! I've seen few Dickens adaptions, but I'm eager to see more. But alas! My family is currently going through a Lark Rise to Candleford phase, so I'm afraid that my Dickens will have to wait. *le sigh* I will definitely put that 1999 David Copperfield on my list to watch.

Birdie said...

Great post! I can totally agree with your top 3, though I think I would put Our Mutual Friend on #1, I just really love the two main couples of that story.

Hayden said...

I love Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield (the one with Maggie Smith;)Nicolas Nickleby and Bleak House are also really great. I actually really liked Edwin Drood, too, although there were certain parts I thought were overkill (no pun intended) when it came to showing the murder over and over again...

I've never been a fan of Great Expectations (actually, it was the first Dickens book I ever read, and I disliked it so much I thought I hated Dickens. Thanks Nicolas Nickleby and Little Dorrit- the next two Dickens I was introduced to through movies- I realized I really liked his stories :)

We also watched an old black and white version of A Tale of Two Cites that we enjoyed, but I saw it before I read the book, so I'm not sure how accurate it was (probably not very; classic Hollywood didn't really seem to concern themselves with being book accurate....just think of the old black and white P&P *shudders*)

Great post! :D

Miss Dashwood said...

I so wish ATOTC could be higher on the list... that is, we SO need a movie adaptation of the musical. Gah. With James Barbour as Sydney, of course, because he totally owns the role and no one else is allowed to play it unless someone decides to cast Ramin Karimloo in which case Sydney who?

I sense a theme here, with this and Jane Eyre... :P


I think I like GE a great deal more than you do, haha... and at the risk of sounding just like all those people you hear, you really DO enjoy it a lot more after reading the book. The book is swellissimus, despite its being a rather dark story. It's actually quite hilarious in many places. Because Dickens IS hilarious.


Hugh Dancy does indeed need a haircut. Griefies. And I want to see AA as a baddie even if his laugh IS too nice. I should just bite the bullet and just watch this on YouTube...

GAH I WANT TO SEE MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT SO BAAAAAAAAD. Although the one you linked to is the Periodxdrama one, which is in like thirty-five parts... someone else uploaded it in full episodes, which is what my parents are watching.

Haha, the look on Nicholas' face in the NN picture... "What do you MEAN, I need to visit London?"


Ha, reading all this is making me want to do a Dickens marathon... OMF is so swellissimus. I want Bella's parasol.

YAY BLEAK HOUSE AND YAY ESTHER! And I want Esther and Ada's clothes. ALL OF DEM. Yes, perhaps that's a little greedy, but what can I say, I'm a child, only a child.

WOOOT LITTLE DORRIT. Somehow I knew that'd be in the top spot. :D

Ugh, the Old Curiosity Shop book is just as depressing as the movie... well, I'm assuming it is, anyway, having not seen the latter. But the book was SO horrid that SURELY the movie couldn't be worse. Yucko.

Melody said...

Heidi P.,
Hmm... I distinctly remember two parts and I'm not really sure about the rest... one was a tad predictable because of the story, but one I totally wasn't expecting. Heehee, I love watching adaptations of things after I read them... but I can understand a little hesitance if you like the book a lot and don't want to see them do mean things to it! ;)

In Our Mutual friend... let's see, how to I explain this discreetly. :P Well, there's this guy washing his clothes and himself in the river and they show him from the back without said clothes. Heh. Like I said, I've never actually seen it. It's towards the beginning of the fourth episode, I thiiink... first he's sleeping in the woods and then he wakes up and he has blood on him (ahem, it makes sense with the story :P) and so you'd know to be on the lookout to cover the screen or whatever.
As for Bleak House...there are some kind of creepy things in it but I personally don't skip anything although sometimes I'm inclined to look away. :P Not because it's inappropriate, though.

Ooh, you haven't seen Little Dorrit, then! If you liked the others I'm sure you'll like that one. :)

Kiri Liz,
Well hey... Lark Rise is nice too! :D

True, the two main couples in OMF are kind of adorable! And I really like how Bella Wilfer is different from Dickens' stereotypical heroine while still being likable. :)

Ugh, yes, it was annoying how they kept showing that scene clip again and again in Edwin Drood... but there were some things I liked about that one. (Well, obviously, since it's in my top ten. :) )
Hahaha, I'm glad you learned that not all of Dickens was like Great Expectations!
You're right about classic Hollywood... I haven't seen that one, either, but from what I HAVE seen of their versions of literature... they're so laughable. The Jane Eyre from the 1940s actually surprised me by not being as wacky and different from the story as I thought it would be. (The one from the 30's, though... GOOD. GRIEF.)

Melody said...

Ha, the last comment was getting too long so I just started a new one for you. ;)

OOOOH Ramin as Sydney... I've never thought of that before. And yeah, what is it with you replacing everything James Barbour does with him? ;D (To be fair, though, you also want to see James Barbour as the Phantom, sooo... haha.) And I think you mean "James who?" not "Sydney who?"
...and now I'm thinking of LRTC. :P


Hahaha, well, you ARE one of the people I hear. About GE The Book, I mean. I was thinking about you when I wrote that. :P I just seriously doubt I could ever like that story. I might read the book someday, though. It's one of the shorter ones, after all. Snort.

Well, if you're going to go biting bullets, you need to see DC 1999 before the 2000 one. I know, I know, I've said that before...

I know which one I linked to. :P It's not like I was without reasons; for one, the PeriodxDrama one has been around for longer and will probably be more likely to actually stay there... the other one wasn't any better quality, and I actually somewhat prefer it to be divided up more... it's easier to leave off that way. ;)

NOOO you cannot have all of Esther and Ada's clothes, you have to give some to meeeee. You wouldn't keep them all to yourself and deprive your poor Tween, surely!

I don't know what Dickens was thinking when he wrote The Old Curiosity Shop... griefies.

We must have a Dickens marathon. You and I. Let's start with the OMF from YouTube. :D

Would you rather hear the story...

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