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.
- Directed by Roman Polanksi
20 member reviews/ratings for this MovieAverage Rating: (7.90 / 10)
Most recent review listed first
I reckon that this is basically the definitive film version of Oliver Twist, at least so far. The only two other contenders would be David Lean's brilliant 1948 version and the 1968 musical film "Oliver!". The latter plays down the darker elements in the novel, so it cannot be considered definitive as a realisation of the novel - though of course in its own terms it is quite wonderful, and Jack Wild's Dodger is surely the greatest Dodger ever. As for David Lean's version, although it might seem sacriligious to suggest this, I think Polanski's film is just a shade better. The mise-en-scène itself is quite extraordinary - not even Lean managed to reproduce pre-Victorian London quite so convincingly. You really feel as though the action is taking place in a vast city. Polanski has stripped away the extraneous elements of the story to concentrate on Oliver - but at the same time there are nice elements of the novel in this version that don't appear in earlier versions, such as the boy in the workhouse who says he's so hungry he might eat the lad in the next bed. So there is a sense here of a director who has really absorbed the spirit of the novel. And there is also a sense of a director who understands and truly appreciates boys (Polanski is himself the father of a son, who makes a cameo in this film as a boy with a hoop). Barney Clark makes an appealing Oliver - rather subdued, serious, and often frightened, but someone one can root for. It has to be remembered that in some ways the part of Oliver is the most difficult of all, because he is, ironically, the least well drawn of the characters in Dickens' novel. Arguably, the plum role for a boy actor is the Dodger, and Harry Eden makes a very decent job of this role. Lewis Chase deserves considerable credit for making the character of Charley really stand out. Ben Kingsley is absolutely fantastic as Fagin. (Why did he not get an award for this brilliant portrayal?) Yep, I think that this is, so far, the best film version ever. How Dickens would have loved it!My Movie Rating: 10 / 10
Not as good as David Lean's version but decent and stars the beautiful Barney Clark together with the handsome and talented Harry Eden.My Movie Rating: 7 / 10
A so-so version of this classic story. Barney Clark gives Oliver a bit more ooomph in this film and, together with Harry Eden as Dodger, they make a good combination. Ben Kingsley is not particularly outstanding as Fagin and Bill Sykes isn't menacing enough. Good period detail and backdrops but no boy actor has ever played the Artful Dodger as well as the late Jack Wild. There are good DVD extras although I got the impression Barney Clark was not very engaging as a person but, then, that might just be me.My Movie Rating: 6 / 10
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