Photo credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00mp1q5
I have just finished watching this. It was mesmerising. I have tens of programmes backed up on my Sky Plus but I chose to watch Part 1 of this yesterday. Having seen Part 1, I could not wait to see Parts 2 and 3, and so I polished off the whole three episodes in under a day. Take it from me, this is very unusual for me! The reason being, at the end of each episode I just wanted to press play immediately on the next episode. I wanted to know what happened next!
A very good friend of mine told me that one of the three key tests of any adaptation is whether the adaptation makes you want to return to the original. Now I have seen countless Dickens adaptations on film and TV over the years, including the classic David Lean films, but not a single one of them has made me try out reading a Dickens novel. My personal favourite as far as Victorian novellists go is, and always will be, Thomas Hardy.
Anyway, for the first time in the history of Raks Patel, this adaptation made me want to go back and read Dickens. Ironically, I am not going to start with Great Expectations, which has been done to death, but with Edwin Drood, because it was the last of Dickens's novels, was unfinished, and is supposed to be very dark (I like dark!). Also, I have no familiarity with it whatsoever as I have never seen any adaptations of it (I stupidly missed the BBC adaptation that has just aired) so I can come to it fresh with my own imagination and a blank slate. I will tell you what I think when I have read it.
What did I like about this adaptation? First and foremost, powerful storytelling. A strong narrative push right the way through, great cliffhangers, and they always left you wanting more. Secondly, the most amazing actors, all at the top of their game. I do have to give a special shout out to David Suchet as Jaggers and Gillian Anderson as Miss Haversham; both stood out amongst a rich and vast array of the best of British acting talent. And I have already given a special mention to Oscar Kennedy as Young Pip who was truly outstanding. You felt sympathy and empathy for all the characters and you cared about what happened to them. There was no black and white; there was every shade of gray - I like it when plays and programmes show that moral choices and dilemmas are not simple and straightforward; there is not a simple right and wrong answer/decision; every choice is multi-layered. The sense of time, place, and the spirit of the age, was powerfully captured in something that was not (I assume) big budget, especially when compared to a Hollywood film. The adaptation just had a real Dickensian look and feel to it which was spot on. I loved it! I am not one to get excited by landscapes or costumes, but they were both rich, atmospheric, and helped with the characterisation.
More information about the adaptation can be found here:
If you missed it, and want to watch it, it is now available on DVD here:
Celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens
Dickens 2012 is an international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth, which falls on 7 February 2012.
Although a writer from the Victorian era, Dickens’s work transcends his time, language and culture. He remains a massive contemporary influence throughout the world and his writings continue to inspire film, TV, art, literature, artists and academia.
Follow the link for all the details on Dickens 2012: