The Gospel in Dickens
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March 01, 2011


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Ooh, now you've made me want to watch this, if only to have a six-hour giggle at it.
I can't say how well I will like Derek Jacobi as Arthur Clennam, as I'm not terribly fond of him, but I'm excited to see Alec Guinness, Eleanor Bron, and Miriam Margoyles.

Very accurate review; when I saw it, I hadn't read the book, and had to go read the full summary online to understand the bits that hadn't been fully explained. Like when Mr Merdle commits suicide . . . I had no idea who he was. Maybe I was just slow in following it, but at some points I just gave up trying to figure out the details and just chalked it up to the hilarious Dickensian-ness of the plot twists. However, there were some really great aspects. I loved Derek Jacobi. He had that middle-aged-yet-oddly-really-cute thing going on, haha.

I agree with you on some points about the movie: most of the performances were really excellent - I thought the castings for Arthur, Mrs Clennam, Mrs Merdle, Mr Merdle, Pancks, Amy, Young John, Pet, Flintwich and especially Mr Dorrit were much better in the movie than in the mini-series (I realize that is partly due to having watched the movie 3 times before seeing the mini-series). The actor playing Arthur in the mini-series was 10 years too young for the part - The age difference between he and Amy seemed fairly insignificant...he is supposed to be twice her age but looks hardly older than her. It was clear in the movie that he was MUCH older than her - and I feel this is an important part of the story lost in the mini-series: she loved him, but also saw him somewhat as a father figure.

When I watched the mini-series, I couldn't make heads or tails of Rigaud, Ms Wade and Tatty Coram since they were not in the movie at all.

What I liked about the twice telling of the story through different viewpoints: Arthur's part tells the story in broad strokes, then Amy's part fills in the details. I loved scenes like in Arthur's part where Amy and her friend visit Arthur in his rooms and it seems rather innocuous, but in Amy's story we see how much in love with him she is, plus we see what happened after the 2 young women left (locked out in the cold city all night). I agree with you that the 2nd part (Amy's) is the more interesting of the 2 parts, but I think in large part it is because how Amy's part illuminates Arthur's part.

To me, far and away, the biggest flaw with the movie is that it did not explain the secret I was craving to know - really not at all. Even after 3 viewings, the best I could make out was that Arthur and Amy were maybe siblings?

I think the best of all worlds would be the cast of the movie in the mini-series. I especially agree with your statement: "Derek Jacobi plays Arthur with an air of gentle bewilderment that's very endearing. Alec Guinness, as one might expect, is a magnificent Mr. Dorrit." IMHO, I really thought Sarah Pickering was the better Amy - she was more "mouse-like" than Claire Foy, and it seems to me that "mouse-like" was one of Amy's strongest attributes that defined her. I also thought the dynamics between Amy, Mr Dorrit and Arthur were much better in the movie.

Yes, the movie is incredibly long...but even through 3 viewings, I didn't mind at all. I came to really love most of the characters in the movie...I'm just not sure I would have felt so strongly about them if I had seen only the mini-series. To be clear - I didn't the think the actors in the mini-series were in any way bad, they were all really EXCELLENT! I just liked the movie castings better!

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