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The Charles Dickens Collection, Volume 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend) (Slim Packaging) (2009)

Paul McGann , Keeley Hawes , Gareth Davies , Lawrence Gordon Clark  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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The Charles Dickens Collection, Volume 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend) (Slim Packaging) + The Charles Dickens Collection, Vol. 2 (David Copperfield / The Pickwick Papers / The Old Curiosity Shop / Dombey and Son / Barnaby Rudge) (Slim Case) + The George Eliot Collection (Middlemarch / Daniel Deronda / Silas Marner / Adam Bede / The Mill on the Floss)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul McGann, Keeley Hawes, Dominic Mafham, David Bradley, Anna Friel
  • Directors: Gareth Davies, Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Writers: Alexander Baron, Andrew Davies, Arthur Hopcraft, Charles Dickens
  • Producers: Betty Willingale, John Harris
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, Original recording remastered, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Mono), English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 5, 2009
  • Run Time: 1921 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001PU8O4I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,748 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Charles Dickens Collection, Volume 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend) (Slim Packaging)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes:
  • Oliver Twist (1985) (two-sided disc)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1994) (two-sided disc)
  • Bleak House (1985) (two-sided disc)
  • Hard Times (1994)
  • Great Expectations (1981) (two-sided disc)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1998) (two-sided disc, 16x9 widescreen)
  • Bonus program: The Signalman: classic Dickens ghost story starring Denholm Elliott
  • Bonus program: "An Audience with Charles Dickens: Sikes and Nancy": Simon Callow re-creates the author's most famous public reading
  • 30-minute documentary examining the Victorian society reflected in the novel and the film of Our Mutual Friend
  • Behind-the-scenes promotional teaser for Our Mutual Friend

Editorial Reviews

As can be clearly seen from the care lavished on these six BBC adaptions of Charles Dickens' novels, the British love their Dickens! And why not--Dickens is ideally suited to television, with his elaborate but vigorous plots, each a compendium of comically odious personalities (and one or two nice folk, just to keep things from getting too awful). Actors dig into these meaty roles with zeal, delighting in the hairpin turns from macabre horror to sweet sentiment. The more popular (and most frequently adapted) of the books at hand--Great Expectations and Oliver Twist--are the most conventional. The 1981 mini-series Expectations (in which young Pip learns the pitfalls of wealth through his relationship with the rich and bitter Mrs. Havishamand and her warped ward, Estella) is dutiful to its source but not adapted with much inspiration. Twist, from 1985, fares better; it's a zippy treatment of this tale of childhood deprivation and juvenile delinquency, and the horrors of Victorian orphanages will raise your hackles. The adaptation is capable but a little flat--still, any story where an undertaker observes, "Every tear is another shilling in the till," is clearly not lacking in wicked wit.

Fortunately, the others are considerably juicier: Martin Chuzzlewit, a lesser-known but richly satirical book, has a star-studded production from 1994, featuring Paul Scofield, Tom Wilkinson, Pete Postlethwaite, and Julia Sawalha, among others. The wealthy Martin Chuzzlewit, deeply suspicious of all mankind due to being hounded by greedy, grasping relatives, threatens the happiness of his ward Mary and his namesake grandson. In addition to the sterling and energetic cast, Chuzzlewit has outstanding production values, as does the 1998 version of Our Mutual Friend, which goes to great lengths to evoke the textures of life in Dickens' London. The mysterious death of a man about to inherit a great fortune sets in motion a complex plot that intertwines two love stories (it's one of Dickens' most romantic works), social scheming, and murderous obsession. The names aren't quite as famous (such as Paul McGann, Timothy Spall, Anna Friel, and Keeley Hawes), but the performances are top-notch and the script is particularly dynamic.

Bleak House, a Kafka-esque story of young innocents caught in an all-consuming, multi-generational lawsuit, cultivates a rich and potent Gothic horror; the 19th century seems like an unnerving alien world, through which lawyers and policemen stride like cruel predators. Diana Rigg is the most famous face in this 1985 production, but strong performances abound. The final component of this box set is the most curious: A 1994 version of Hard Times starring Alan Bates and Richard E. Grant, which turns this dark story--about a schoolmaster/politician who raises his children on reason at the expense of all feeling and finally reaps the bitter rewards--into a compact, theatrical feature film that's so swift it's almost jaunty. Adapted and directed by Peter Barnes (writer of The Ruling Class), it's the most stylized production of the bunch, and while lacking the depth and narrative detail of the others, it effectively cuts to the essence of Dickens. The 2009 edition of this set comes in six slimpaks. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

This collection includes six Charles Dickens masterpieces in 32 hours of classic television. The grotesque comedy and dark tragedy of Victorian London's streets comes to vivid life in these original productions from the BBC, remastered for DVD.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid BBC Productions January 8, 2010
The American television network TNT proclaims in its advertisements, "We know drama," but it can't hold a candle to the BBC. Since the sixties, the Beeb has been producing exquisite adaptations of classic literature. These include the plays of Shakepeare, Shaw, and Wilde, the novels of Eliot, Austen, and Trollope, and the works of many other treasures of British and Irish literature, not to mention those of other European nations: Ibsen, Checkhov, Dostoyevsky, and so on.

These productions tend to be simple, elegantly-appointed affairs. There's very little flash, and some viewers may be disappointed by their talky, set-bound nature, yet they are quite faithful to their sources. Performances are uniformly top-notch, often by the most talented and justly famous of British actors: Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, Diana Rigg, Rex Harrison, John Gielgud, Joan Plowright, and many more.

This series of Dickens adaptations and its parter, Volume 2, do not utilize thespians especially well-known to Americans (though Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, and Daniel Radcliffe do star in "David Copperfield" on Volume 2), but the acting and direction are excellent.

If you love British literature and history, particularly the Victorian period, you will find these DVD sets to be thoroughgoing treats. They will expose you to dramas both familiar and obscure and will encourage you to delve more deeply into the perennial delight that is Charles Dickens.

Both 2009 sets use slim rather than standard DVD cases, so they are more compact versions of the sets issued in 2005 and 2006, but their contents are identical. They are highly recommended in either form.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Dickens' DVD's May 16, 2010
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If you like Dickens or are just curious, try these DVD's. They are done as only the Brits can do them with impeccable acting, right-on characterizations, and attention to historical detail. Great entertainment for the whole family and reasonably priced, too. Highest recommendation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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These DVDs skip and are of low quality. The productions are Masterpiece Theater and are wonderful, but they are disturbing to watch as they regularly and unexpectedly pixelate, stick or stall, and skip entire parts. We got some of these shows on video tape from the library, and were amazed at the entire sections that had been skipped on these DVD versions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens BBC DVD Reviews July 4, 2011
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I have been deeply impressed with the quality of BBC films which I purchased last month. Character development is a big plus with me. Although there is a major plot in each of the Dickens stories, there are also numerous sub plots. I have ordered additional works presented by BBC and hae enjoyed them all.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Tim A.
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I have a large collection of BBC dramatizations of classic English literature and was looking forward very much to the Charles Dickens collection, but when watching Great Expectations I found that episodes froze about 1 to 2 hours into the disk on both sides. I had played the disk on a Sony DVD player and tried playing it on our computer DVD drive with the same result. The video itself was great except for the freezing, which forced us to skip 3 episodes.

I ordered a replacement with the same results. I played Our Mutual Friend with the same result on both the DVD player and computer: episodes froze about 1 to 2 hours into the disk. Episodes earlier and later on the disk played without any problem. I was greatly disappointed and returned the collection for a refund--doubly disappointed because I had looked forward to purchasing volume 2 as well.

I'm curious whether anyone else has had a similar problem with BBC double-sided DVDs. I assume there's an incompatibility between the device used to burn the disks and our Sony DVD player and IBM ThinkCentre M51 DVD drive.

Subsequent to writing the preceding review, I bought the prior version of The Charles Dickens Collection, Volume 1, in which each title is packaged in its own slipcase. The DVD's in that version play without freezing. It was a used box set, but I'm happy to have a fully functioning set of the DVD's. I also have Volume 2 in the slimcase packaging, and those DVD's also play without problem.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Charles Dicens Collection Volume 1 January 4, 2012
By jeff
Verified Purchase
Watch out because the Our Mutual Friend movie only got half way through and then seemed to get stuck and wouldn't go any further. I tried it on 3 different players with the same result.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too old December 25, 2013
By Anna
Verified Purchase
I was looking for the newer version and was a little disappointed...
I gave it two stars because they are excellent stories just being an older version the story is very long winded, also for some reason the movie kept freezing up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickens Done Just Right February 12, 2012
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This box of Dickens dramas is a wonder. My wife and I rate it probably as the best "literary" made-for-TV drama series that we've seen yet. Yes, we've both read most of the books, and I've actually lectured on a few of them. But what a treat to see these solid, caring, often imaginative presentations, with fine direction, a few star actors filling key roles, abetted by superb work from the other players. The sets and costumes. too, open up the Dickens world in their own persuasive way. Very rarely do the productions seem narrowly stagy or limited; they have a real movie feel. Could anyone conceivably do these as well as the British, or more specifically the BBC? Hard to believe.

Most of the Dickens novels are big sprawling productions where a great many characters appear, cross paths, and become part of a story that illuminates some key aspects of the social reality of the Victorian Age. The wonder is that, as presented here, the stories also seem very contemporary and relevant. The script-writers are really expert at leaving out certain things in the texts and yet conveying the complexity and sweep of the story. There are so many delicious moments in these shows: Lady Dedlock's confrontations with Tulkinghorn, Tom Pinch's seeing the light about Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit, the wonderful opening of Bleak House where Lizzie helps her father fish corpses from the Thames. Yes, these are not played just as entertainment; there is real darkness here, moral darkness, the darkness of poverty, of narrowness and stupidity, and the filth that accompanied the glitter of Victorian life is not concealed. These are balanced, of course, by the warmth Dickens always generates when things go right, and when good people work together. Compulsive viewing, we found.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic to be visitedd
Dickens' stories in film will entertain almost anone who loves a good story with excellent dialogue and superb acting and actors.
Published 2 months ago by Ronald Beattie
4.0 out of 5 stars The Charles Dickens Collection, Volume 1
Very good movies taken from Charles Dickens. I like how close to Dickens' original ideas are used in the movies.
Published 3 months ago by Nadine W. Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Enjoyment
Charles Dickens wrote more than Chrismal Carol. Dickens 101, 201, 301, doctorate, and if you don't watch out you will enjoy yourself. Get Volume 2 as well.
Published 9 months ago by halh
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens, volume 1
i would highly recommend this set. i would also warn that it takes some getting used to. Charles Dickens wrote in a style all his own. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens Lovers
I bought this for my Dad for Christmas. He is a huge Charles Dickens fan and has all of the movies on tape. He finally upgraded t.v.s and can no longer use his v.c.r. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Tom H.
3.0 out of 5 stars Dickens - Revisited
The disks I did review all worked. Unfortunately, Dickens has to be spread out because going through the full box and all of the films was just a little to dark with their stories. Read more
Published on November 7, 2011 by cb
2.0 out of 5 stars The Charles Dickens Collection, Vol. 1
The BBC produced this series which means that quality is top-notch. I cannot recommend this item! If you are a die-hard literature buff, this is for you. Read more
Published on July 20, 2011 by eagle eye
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