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Little Dorrit (2008)

4.7 out of 5 stars 288 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Little Dorrit(2008)(DVD)

Acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House) brings to DVD an all new Dickens adaptation starring Academy Award Nominee Tom Courtenay (The Golden Compass), Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5, Pride and Prejudice) and newcomer Claire Foy (Being Human). This gripping new series brings to life Dickens's powerful story of struggle and hardship in 1820s London. When Arthur Clennam (Macfadyen) returns to England after many years abroad, his curiosity is piqued by the presence in his mother's house of a young seamstress, Amy Dorrit (Foy). His quest to discover the truth about "Little Dorrit" takes him to the Marshalsea Debtors Prison, where he discovers that the dark shadows of debt stretch far and wide. Filled with humorous yet tragic characters, Little Dorrit is a stirring rags to riches to rags story, exposing the underbelly of nineteenth century British society as only Charles Dickens can.


Scandalous secrets, strangling bureaucracy, and crippling debts collide in the compelling BBC/Masterpiece Classic adaptation of Charles Dickens' weighty novel, which debuted in serial form in 1855. Mrs. Clennam (Judy Parfitt), a shut-in, kicks the complex storyline into action when she hires 21-year-old seamstress Amy Dorrit (newcomer Claire Foy, a warm and sympathetic presence) just days before her son, Arthur (Matthew Macfadyen, Pride & Prejudice), returns to London after 15 years at sea. Amy lives with her proud father, William (a heartbreaking Tom Courtenay), in Marshalsea, the debtor's prison where Dickens' own father did time. Despite his mother’s denials, Arthur becomes convinced that there's a connection between the Clennams and the Dorrits, so he attempts to solve the mystery on his own, with help from sniveling rent collector Pancks (Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky) and hindrance from surly servant Flintwinch (Alun Armstrong, New Tricks) and the aptly-named Circumlocution Office.

Last filmed in 1988, Little Dorrit offers material--about greedy lenders and eager investors--ripe for reinterpretation. If the series doesn't surpass Bleak House, a high-water mark in Dickens adaptations, screenwriter Andrew Davies still does the author proud, despite a sketchy subplot concerning a miserable maid and her mysterious protector. But some things never change, and Dickens presents ample scene-stealing opportunities, of which Amanda Redman as a chilly socialite, Pam Ferris as a shallow governess, Russell Tovey as a lovesick suitor, and Andy Serkis as a Gallic psychopath--his creepiest character since Gollum--take full advantage. In the featurette, cast and crew provide a perceptive look at the making of this timely drama. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

Making of featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Alun Armstrong, Judy Parfitt
  • Directors: Dearbhla Walsh, Adam Smith, Diarmuid Lawrence
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 450 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001PU8N0I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,892 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Little Dorrit (2008)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on November 27, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Dash my buttons!" A good dialogue line to use for this award-winner set in 1820's pre-Victorian London. Dickens wrote about class tiers within society, levels of wealth, and the injustices that caused. The Emmy writer, Andrew Davies, condensed the novel, reorganized it's events, and added dialogue into making a series actually considered by some to be better than the Dickens book. That it won 6 Emmys out of 16 BAFTA/EMMY nominations in 11 different area is endorsement enough.

Dickens style was not lost. The series includes the caravan of peculiar, grotesque, quirky, and funny characters; the names being equally odd: Flintwich, Pancks, Fanny Sparkler, Pet, Tattycoram, Chivery, Tip, Affery, & Tite Barnacle. Dickens suspense was mingled throughout the 14 episodes, with the overriding plot related to "Do not forget" inside a watch, and "Make it right" a dad's dying last words, which remains unrevealed till the end (unless you've read the book). Each individual episode ends with suspense, just like Dickens wrote it originally when published in magazine form.
Pure Dickens, but better. What fabulous scenes, sets, locations, costumes, hair, dialogue, props, cast, it's all perfection even Dickens would be proud of. You will fall in love with Amy, Little Dorrit (Claire Foy) much before Arthur (Matthew Macfadyen). What a delightful adventure into period drama, humor sprinkled, intoxicating, till you can feel the grime of Marshalsea Prison, and sparkle to the glamor of the rich in Venice. A sensual presentation of a rags-to-riches tale.

Was it fiction? The bonus material explains that Dickens father spent 14 weeks in the Marshalsea Debtors Prison, and Charles had to work in a factory at age 12 to help meet the financial needs.
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Format: DVD
I will always be a tremendous fan of the two part film version with Derek Jacobi and Sir Alec Guiness, now generally only found on used video tape. This wonderful new miniseries does however acquit itself very nicely. Shown earlier in the UK, the acting by Matthew Macfadyn (of Pride and Prejudice fame) captures the well-intentioned and kind hearted Arthur Clennam perfectly. Equally impressive is Claire Foy as the courageous and decent Little (Amy) Dorrit. Still the best may be the character portrayed by Tom Courtenay, William Dorrit, "the father of the Marshalsea" the famous debtors' prison. The series is full of very strong supporting performances, it would take far too long to list the many wonderful actors and actresses who are found in every scene.
The show follows a very typical Dickens plot of slowly developing mysteries and strangely interwoven relationships. Little Dorrit was born inside a debtors' prison and has lived her entire life working unendingly and without complaint to make her father's decades long imprisonment there more bearable. She is the first child born there; this fact and his former stature as a gentleman gives him an informal social superiority inside that he enjoys and uses as possible to his personal benefit. The arrival in London of Arthur Clennam from China to share with his mother the news of his father's death, pushes an already moving story into many surprising turns. Rich and poor, good and bad, people of all social circles find themselves pulled into confronting their changing fortunes. Some who find themselves well-off deal with their new situation far less well than those dealing with adversity.
Dickens is telling a story far too near to his own with the theme of these families forced to see many generations live behind prison walls for the want of a few pounds. The story is one of his strongest and this series tells it honestly and with an incredible strength of cast and script.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I only recently read Little Dorrit, and it is my new favorite Dickens novel. The story of Amy Dorrit, an honest girl born in debtor's prison, is a wonderful tale full of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, death and romance. As with many Dickens books, it literally has a cast of thousands, and this production follows most of the storylines from the book quite faithfully. I just watched this on the internet, and I thought this version was sensitive to the material and did a good job of keeping the characters engaging and true while obviously having to shorten Dickens' voluminous descriptions into shorter episodes. The story is a bit of a soap opera with plenty of bad luck and broken hearts lying around. However, it totally works for me. When I read the book, I actually couldn't put it down and devoured it in a couple of days. This movie was the same way. I couldn't stop watching it or wait until the next episode. At the end, I was sitting in front of my computer crying. It is just a lovely story, well-scripted, beautifully acted, and engaging throughout. I haven't ordered my copy yet so I can't speak to any issues with the actual dvd yet, and I will admit that I have thus far been unable to sit through the 1988 version. I want to like it since I've heard so many raves about it (and I adore Derek Jacobi--he's my all time favorite Hamlet) but it moves very slowly and ploddingly to me, and I just lose interest. So I highly recommend this version if you like Dickens at all or if you like any of the actors because the cast (Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Foy especially) do a lovely job. UPDATE: I received my dvd from Amazon and am thrilled to have purchased it. I had seen it on the internet and on Masterpiece (I'm in the US) and the episodes on the dvd are a bit different from what was shown on PBS.Read more ›
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