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The Charles Dickens Collection, Vol. 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend)

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4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Charles Dickens Collection, Vol. 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend)
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Editorial Reviews

Product description

In these six acclaimed adaptations of his classics we enter Dickens's vibrant Victorian London encountering the outsized comic characters social commentary epic love stories and dark murder mysteries that have made these stories so timeless.System Requirements:Length: 1920 mins Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA UPC: 794051234421

Amazon.com

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. --Bret Fetzer


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

Product details

  • Actors: Paul McGann, Keeley Hawes, Dominic Mafham, David Bradley, Anna Friel
  • Directors: Gareth Davies, Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Writers: Andrew Davies, Arthur Hopcraft, Charles Dickens
  • Producers: Betty Willingale, John Harris, Michael Wearing
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • 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 Warner
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 1920 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009PVZMS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,025 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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  • Learn more about "The Charles Dickens Collection, Vol. 1 (Oliver Twist / Martin Chuzzlewit / Bleak House / Hard Times / Great Expectations / Our Mutual Friend)" on IMDb

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