From GREAT EXPECTATIONS To OLIVER TWIST – THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD: Best Dickens’ Adaptations
Adapting one of Charles Dickens’ most beloved characters, Iannucci and regular co-writer Simon Blackwell create a Victorian-set epic that nonetheless feels very modern, fresh and, quite frankly, hilarious. Following Copperfield from early youth through to middle age, the story traces his social awakening, charting huge personal ups and downs as he witnesses the best and worst of humanity. Dickens’ ‘favourite child’ amongst his works, the plot also tackles social injustice in many forms – a lack of protection for children, poor industrial conditions for the working class, and wealth inequality. So, who better to tackle this tale than Iannucci, the genius behind The Thick of It, In the Loop, Veep and The Death of Stalin. His work has peeled back the hypocrisy of the ruling and political class with such unfettered enthusiasm and biting comic acuity.
To celebrate the release of The Personal History Of David Copperfield in UK cinemas on 24th January, we are taking a look at some of the best Dickens’ adaptations to grace our screens.....
Great Expectations (1946)
Great Expectations has been hailed by many as the best adaptation of Dickens’ work to date — seventy years on, and it still holds its own. This post-war adaptation, which featured Jean Simmons as Estella in one of her earliest roles, has continued to rank highly in critical lists of the best ever British films, while Roger Ebert praised it for doing ‘what few movies based on great books can do: [create] pictures on the screen that do not clash with the images already existing in our minds’.
Bleak House (2005)
What makes this 2005 BBC adaptation so unique and accessible is how it has been cleverly broken down into 15 short half hour episodes, rather than stuffing the story into one film like we have seen from most film and TV adaptations Dickens’ work. The adaptation was written by the talented Andrew Davies and lovers of literature who are often cautious of watching their favourite stories televised, will be happy to know he has remained true and respectful to the original story. The critically acclaimed series not only featured an all-star cast, including Gillian Anderson, Denis Lawson, Charles Dance and Johnny Vegas, it went onto win multiple BAFTAs including Best Drama Serial.
A Christmas Carol (1984)
The 1984 made-for-television A Christmas Carol became a fan favourite version partly due to the powerful film persona of George C. Scott, and the all-star cast that includes Frank Finlay, David Warner, Edward Woodward, Roger Rees, and Susannah York. It’s a beautifully shot film that captures the feel and look of 1840s London, and the production of this A Christmas Carol feels far more grandeur than most made-for-television films.
Oliver Twist (1968)
This warm and memorable 1968 musical adaptation of the much-loved Oliver Twist went on to win 6 six prestigious Oscar’s including Best Picture and it’s no wonder. Packed full of wonderful musical numbers and top-class performances, alongside a well-executed dark, yet thought-provoking narrative – this production will go from filling you with a warm, fuzzy feeling, to making you cry. Although the film is now 40 years old, it is enduring enough to be loved by your children, their children and we are sure, even their children too!
The Personal History Of David Copperfield (2020)
Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of Dicken’s 1849 novel gets the modern-day treatment while still being faithful to the original. With a superb cast including Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi and Ben Whishaw, all led by Dev Patel in the titular role, this modern-day classic brings Copperfield into the 21st century with a fresh spin, while keeping to the traditional story we know and love.
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD RELEASES IN UK CINEMAS ON JANUARY 24