Dickens Before Sound DVD
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Directed by Various
Produced in 1878-1922
Main Language - SILENT
Countries & Regions - British Film, American film
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.
Graeme Hobbs on 11th August 2006
Author of 298 reviews
A unique collection of early adaptations of one of Britain's favourite authors. A unique and exciting collection from the BFI that unearths many rare and invaluable films from the vaults. Features Gabriel Grub (1878), A Christmas Carol (1901), The Cricket On The Hearth (1909), Oliver Twist (1909), The Boy And The Convict (1909), Nicholas Nickleby (1912), Pickwick Papers (1913), David Copperfield (1913), Oliver Twist (1922) (with Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney), Dickens' London (1924), and the first Dickensian talkie - Bransby William's monologue as Grandfather Smallweed from Bleak House (1926).
Length: 171 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 26th August 2006
Cat No: BFIVD526
- 2 discs
- Fully illustrated 40-page booklet with an introduction, notes on each film and original production stills
- Spoken word performance by Ken Campbell of Dickens' original text over Gabriel Grub and The Pickwick Papers
- Voiceover commentary by screenwriter Michael Eaton on 'The Cricket on the Hearth'
- Downloadable essay by Dickens scholar Graham Petrie.