Thursday 30 March 2023

How to Do Dickens

 'I think the best you can do in a movie is to be faithful to the author's intention in all areas. With the two Dickens films I did [Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948)], they are, oh, pencil sketches of these great novels that he wrote, but I think they are faithful. I wouldn't have been ashamed to show him the films.'

So said the film director David Lean, whose Great Expectations is perhaps the greatest Dickens adaptation ever made – a 'pencil sketch' of the novel indeed, but wholly faithful to the author's intentions and to the spirit of the original work. I suggest that Stephen (Peaky Blinders) Knight, author of the latest Dickens travesty to hit our TV screens – yes, Great Expectations – have Lean's wise words inscribed in pokerwork, framed and hung prominently over his writing desk. I also suggest that the BBC give up on Dickens – they seem to have quite lost the ability to adapt his works faithfully, or indeed watchably. 

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