Review: Oliver Twist (1985)

Oliver Twist (1985)

Directed by: Gareth Davies | 360 minutes | drama | Actors: Ben Rodska, Scott Funnell, Eric Porter, Frank Middlemass, Lysette Anthony, Amanda Harris, Michael Attwell, Margaret Ainley, Nigel Anthony, Dicken Ashworth, Brian Badcoe, Mark Bassenger, Alan Bennion, Nicholas Bond-Owen, Hilda Braid, June Brown, Edward Burnham, Keith Campbell, Chris Chandler, Beryl Cooke, Brenda Cowling, Pip Donaghy, Christopher Driscoll, Matthew Duke, Anthony Dunston, Donald Eccles, John Evitts, Harry Fielder, Julian Firth, David Garlick, Geoffrey Greenhill, Walter Hall, Davyd Harries, Janet Henfrey, Peter Honri, Godfrey James, Dominic Jephcott, David King, Carys Llewelyn, Miriam Margolyes, Gillian Martell, Nicholas McArdle, David McKail, Terry Molloy, Damien Nash, Charles Pemberton, Elizabeth Proud, Spencer Rheult, Colin Rix Christian Rodska, Norman Rutherford, Kim Ryan, Leslie Schofield, Joe Searby, Jeffrey Segal, Terence Soall, Henry Stamper, James Taylor, Betty Turner, Simon Watkins, Peter Whitbread, Raymond Witch, Felix Yates

The story of Charles Dickens about Oliver Twist has been filmed many times. Although everyone has read or seen the story, this BBC series is certainly worth admiring. The work of Charles Dickens is invariably characterized by the strong storyline, colorful characters and a good dose of humor. Director Gareth Davies has ensured that these elements are also beautifully expressed in the series.

As can often be seen with series, Oliver Twist also emphasizes the story and the quality of the acting. So don’t expect beautiful, slick decors and meticulously worked out shots. Actually, the set-up of the series is a bit between a soap and a play. The characters are dressed in beautiful authentic costumes and the music of Askham and Willcox is also completely in the style of the series.

The acting in this 12-part BBC series is good, Ben Rodska portrays Oliver Twist with integrity and energy. The twinkle in his eye and the enthusiasm is clearly visible to the viewer. Eric Porter as gang leader Fagin and Lysette Anthony as Agnes Fleming/Rose Maylie also put down great acting.

The series was shot on video quite a few years ago, which of course doesn’t produce the greatest image quality. The image is very soft and often artifacts from running the video can be seen. Bright light sources and candles also leave a glowing trail on the image. There is also some video noise here and there. Too bad the BBC has not digitally restored and remastered the image, this could have appealed to a larger audience to watch the Oliver Twist series.

Many viewers will initially shy away from the slow pace and somewhat dated style of this series, but after a few episodes this is no longer an issue. The good acting and the script together ensure that you are dragged into the dynamic and sometimes difficult life of Oliver Twist.

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