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Roman Polanksi's adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.

If Charles Dickens were alive to see Roman Polanski's faithful adaptation ofOliver Twist, he'd probably give it his stamp of approval. David Lean's celebrated1948 versionof the Dickens classic and Carol Reed'sOscar®-winning 1968 musicalare more entertaining in some ways, but Polanski's rendition is both painstakingly authentic (with superb cinematography and production design) and deeply rooted in the emotional context of the story. Both Polanski and Dickens had personal experiences similar to those of young Oliver (played here by Barney Clark) -- Polanski in the Nazi-occupied ghettos of Poland during World War II, and Dickens during his hard-scrabble youth in Victorian London -- and this spiritual kinship lends a certaingravitasto the tale of a tenacious orphan who escaped from indentured servitude in London society and is taken in by Fagin (Ben Kingsley) and his streetwise gang of pickpockets. As the evil Bill Sykes, who exploits Oliver for his own nefarious needs, Jamie Foreman is no match for Oliver Reed (in the '68 musical) in terms of frightening menace, but even here, Polanski's direction hews closer to Dickens, while the screenplay by Ronald Harwood (who also wrote Polanski'sThe Pianist) necessarily trims away subplots and characters for the sake of narrative economy. All in all, thisOliver Twistrises above most previous versions, and with the benefit of Kingsley's nuanced performance, Polanski arrives at a compassionate conclusion that captures the essence of Dickens' novel in a way that viewers of all ages will appreciate for many years to come.--Jeff Shannon
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CastBen Kingsley, Liz Smith, Alun Armstrong, Mark Strong, Jamie Foreman, Ian McNeice, Edward Hardwicke, Harry Eden, Frances Cuka, Barney Clarke, Robert Benmussa, Barney Clark, Leanne Rowe, Michael Heath, Gillian Hanna, Lewis Chase, Chris Overton, Patrick Godfrey, Timothy Burrill
DirectorRoman Polanski, Laurent Bouzereau
Genre:  Drama
Release Date:  September 23, 2005
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Screen WriterCharles Dickens, Ronald Harwood, Laurent Bouzereau
DVD Release Date:  January 24, 2006
Runtime:  130 minutes
Studio:  TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures
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More Oliver Twist (2005 movie) reviews
review by . November 22, 2008
(2005 version with Ben Kingsley)      Not quite as Dickens wrote it   And lacks even one song   This remake's sort of "okay"   But it's two whole hours long     The classic orphan story   With artistic liberty   It casts out Ollie's half-brother   And Brownslow's family     The actors are all very good   It's not their fault the plot   Doesn't focus …
review by . December 04, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Acting, sets      Cons: The last half of the film is paced badly and can be hard to follow      The Bottom Line: Watch the first half of the movie then read the last half of the novel. Recommended with reservations.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      I think with Oliver Twist, Roman Polanski bit off more than he could chew.      The story …
review by . January 25, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Charles Dickens' famous story of the perseverance of the individual in the crumbling society of poverty in mid 19th century London has been scripted for film many times: the catalogue lists 19 versions and that doesn't include some films using the matrix of the story only. The results are variably successful: David Lean's 1948 version is brilliant, Renny Rey's 4 part mini series in 1999 was good, Tony Bill's TV film in 1999 had the flavor, the musical version 'Oliver!' was a resounding success, …
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