Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What the Dickens?

Artwork by Mike Dutton.
Did anyone else notice the charming makeover Google underwent today? Because it. is. awesome. I was tipped off by one of our readers (thanks, Libby!) and I couldn't resist ensuring the rest of you saw it! Today is Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, so tonight we'll celebrate with an impromptu batch of recommendations for movie adaptations of his beloved work. It never ceases to amaze me just how many character Dickens could seamlessly weave together in one work of fiction. The following stories and characters are some of my particular favorites.

Nicholas Nickleby. Oh. Oh! For some reason, whenever I think of Dickens, this is the first story that springs to mind. Despite his father's death, Nicholas never lets the drastic changes that follow shake his character. He's a beautiful soul (played by the beautiful Charlie Hunnam) who stands up for his family, friends, and beliefs. The friendship that blooms between himself and Smike (played by the heartbreaking Jamie Bell) is the highlight of the story for me. Yes, yes, this storyline trumps the love story with Anne Hathaway. I mean, I cry every. gosh. darn. time. Jamie Bell's performance is absolutely stunning, which should come as no surprise since he apparently made everyone cry with his audition alone. The nasty characters they cross are spectacularly immortalized by acting greats like Christopher Plummer and Jim Broadbent (I will see any movie starring Jim Broadbent). This film was also my first exposure to Romola Garai, who plays Nicholas' sister Kate, and it has endeared her to me ever since. The costumes and scenery are as rich as the witty dialogue and, oh my heart, I will love this story always (especially as I blubber over the soundtrack).

Little Dorrit. Admittedly, it's been a while since I've since this one. But I can tell you this, it gave me a lot of FEELINGS. First off, the love interest in this story is none other than Matthew Macfadyen. I mean, say no more, right? I KNOW! Most of the Dickens stories I know have male leads, but this one has a female, the doe eyed Amy Dorrit, at its center. Claire Foy plays this role with such convincing innocence, she truly made that world feel believable and real. You can't help sympathizing with her character, a young woman struggling to provide for a father who's been imprisoned for his debts. The mysteries and the way everything comes full circle make this miniseries a compelling must see. And oh my gosh can we talk about the scene where John (I swear, Russell Tovey and his sticky-outy ears can do no wrong) reveals to Arthur (Matthew Macfadyen) that Amy has been in love with him the whole time? Because OH MY GOSH!!! 

This might be unladylike, but... Can I cut in?? (x)
Great Expectations. From the very beginning, this one had me hooked. The bleak setting, the suspense, Pip's unexpected generosity to an escaped convict; all of it sets up the coming years so effortlessly. The way the haunting Miss Havisham (Jillian Andrews) leads Pip on is totally believable; it's easy why Pip assumes that she's the reason he's come in to a large fortune. Usually, when I know the main part of a character's story happens when they're older, I impatiently want to get the bit when they're a child out of the way as soon as possible. But I adored each scene from his childhood and watched completely enraptured. Of course, when you first see his evolution into a young man (hellooo Douglas Booth) in all of his blacksmith glory... ahem! He's instantly swept up in the chaos of London and his own naiveté and I'm just so glad he, at the very least, has his best friend Herbert Pocket (1st: best. name. ever. 2nd: I heart you, Harry Lloyd!) looking out for him. Not to mention the hopelessly warped love story with the "heartless" Estella!

Can you believe Albert Finney was only 34 when he played this iconic role? (x)
Scrooge. There seem to be hundreds of renditions of A Christmas Carol out there and rightfully so. But this was my first exposure to the story and has remained untouched as my favorite version. My family watches this movie every Christmas Eve and if we can get my little sister to watch a musical and smile about it, darling, that is saying something! In fact, this was probably my first exposure to anything Victorian... It's all your fault, Mom and Dad! Anyway, if you ever need to stop someone from being a sour puss, this is the cure. And, crikey, did I mention that Albert Finney plays Scrooge? What more do you need? That man is genius and he's the reason why I cringe over every other version. No one can play Ebenezer like he can, no one. He makes the character's transformation so dazzlingly believable. Incidentally, he's also a total Victorian babe in the flashbacks. I'm just sayin'! And by the time "Thank You Very Much" comes on, I am just hit by ALL THE FEELINGS at once! A pure tidal wave of joy and Christmas spirit enough to make me the next Ghost of Christmas Present. Please believe me, this film is perfection and I will go dancing down the street clicking my heels to prove it!

So many characters and plot twists to love and enjoy thanks to the birthday boy! Well, these are my personal favorites where Dickens is concerned. What are yours?


  1. I think it's just me, but I feel like the film adaptations of Dickens are always so much more entertaining than the actual novels. I can't believe I just typed that.

    1. Well I can't believe I'm going to type this "out loud," but... I've never actually READ any Dickens. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW! :X