Dickens Before Sound View large image
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Film Details

Directed by: Various

Countries & Regions: United Kingdom, United States

DVD Details

Certificate: E

Studio: British Film Institute

Length: 171 mins

Format: DVD

Released: 28 August 2006

Cat No: BFIVD526

Moviemail Details

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Dickens Before Sound

Cast: Lon Chaney , Jackie Coogan

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This collection is a feast of Dickensiana with surviving extracts from some of the very earliest film adaptations of his work. Of particular note are films from DW Griffith, RW Paul, and the extracts from Thomas Bentley's lovely 1913 version of David Copperfield, praised at the time for “its pictorialism, realism and fidelity”.

Also featured is a sort of ‘blue plaque’ tour of Dickens’ London circa 1924, complete with some evocative re-imaginings of the characters. The set also has the first Dickensian sound film with Bransby Williams presenting Grandfather Smallweed’s monologue from ‘Bleak House’. The undoubted highlight though is Frank Lloyd’s 1922 version of Oliver Twist, starring 5 year-old Jackie Coogan as Oliver and 'man of a thousand faces’ Lon Chaney as Fagin. The settings are excellent and Coogan turns in a brilliant, instinctive performance, impish and pathetic by turns. The film also has some surprising effects, as when Oliver dreams of a dancing bowl and spoon after he has asked for more. It's in a nicely tinted print and is accompanied by a new score from Neil Brand.

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