Over the span of a couple of days, I watched this version of Oliver. Day One left me feeling excited – I liked the characters, especially Ben Kingsley’s Fagin. He gave Fagin a bit more softness than the novel, but he was such a delight to watch. The first half followed the story line of the novel pretty closely, but the second half was a disappointment. I realize that when turning a 350+ page book into a novel, you will need to make choices as to what to cut, but I thought his cuts made it difficult to understand the characters’ motives. Gone was Monks, any mention of the Maylies, or Oliver’s mother for that matter. No Noah, no Mrs. Bumble, no Giles, Brittles or Dr. Losbourne. As a result, there was none of the mystery of the plot or wondering what will happen…it became obvious very quickly, with just one real villian, Sikes. In fact, at the end, it seemed that, lacking any family, Fagin became a real father figure for Oliver. Due to the absence of the Maylies and their country home, we do not get so much of the needed contrast to dark, sinful, smoky, foggy London.
I could go on, but I’ll let you view it for yourself and chime in with your opinions. It was nice to watch a very well executed version of this classic, but after just coming off the “real genius,” I’m ready to go back to the written word! Jane Eyre, here we come.