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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit saga is not little - Entertainment on a grand scale
This is one of Dickens' lesser known works and is given a wonderful screenplay by Andrew Davies who also did the Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House adaptations for BBC TV. The novel centers on two characters whose lives are changed when the father of one of them dies and triggers a search for answers from the past. Much of the storyline is taken from Dickens' personal...
Published on 1 Aug 2009 by DCGUY

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shame about the poor scripting
Putting aside some reservations about the bizarre actions of some characters including one being so unconcerned that he is in the same room as a man who has obviously killed his brother that nothing is said and the black hole entitled "whatever happened in the pub" this was enjoyable to watch and really only marred by the poor scripting of the last few episodes. Without...
Published on 9 May 2012 by Savita


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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit saga is not little - Entertainment on a grand scale, 1 Aug 2009
By 
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is one of Dickens' lesser known works and is given a wonderful screenplay by Andrew Davies who also did the Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House adaptations for BBC TV. The novel centers on two characters whose lives are changed when the father of one of them dies and triggers a search for answers from the past. Much of the storyline is taken from Dickens' personal experiences as a young boy when his father was imprisoned in a debtors prison. The theme of imprisonment pervades the entire storyline and every character is affected by it in one shape or form (physical, psychological, familial, and societal). Dickens' satire of the pre-Victorian 1826 English society class snobbery, bureaucracy, and greed are displayed by the characters in this novel.

The original novel was broken into two parts with Arthur Clennam being the primary focus in the first part and Amy Dorrit in the second part. This adaptation chose to focus on both characters right away instead of following the original novel time line. There are many great individual performances in this 7 1/2 hours saga. The two central characters remain unchanged despite financial, family, and social status pressures. This adaptation blends humor, sorrow, joy, and a mystery embedded in a love story that transcends time and place. It is a rare TV event to see such a wide ranging emotional and visually impressive presentation. Many of the questions that people look for answers like who we will live our lives with, what obligations do parents and children have for each other, and how will we live our lives are brought out from this presentation. This is a timeless series with a timeless message that what really matters in life is not money, status, or power.

I had the opportunity to ask the screenwriter questions on the screenplay adaptation when the series was being broadcast on USA TV networks in April 2009. Mr. Davies changed some of the scenes from the novel to make it with a more contemporary feel and to give the heroine a more dignified and individual character. The ending of the series also does not follow the novel exactly. Arthur Clennam gets the answers to his dying father's request in the TV series while the novel leaves some questions unanswered. Mr. Davies wanted Arthur to have closure and to make for a more emotionally satisfying ending. The following is taken from Mr. Davies' introduction to the BBC novel edition.

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"I realized that I would have to simplify and clarify the way the characters are introduced, so that the audience could get a sense of how they interrelate. I also needed to get a handle on the mystery that lies at the heart of the Clennam household. The mystery goes back into the past, involving characters that are dead before the book begins. It revolves around a will, a particular bequest, twin brothers, and a tin box that disappears and then reappears, and it culminates by bringing the house down literally. I had to consider how to translate all this coherently to television, while laying the clues so that the audience can get a shock of recognition when all is revealed."

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The sets, costumes, background scenery, and acting are all first rate with many familiar British actors/actresses in the cast. A lot of work and effort was done to make this production so special (the makeup work for the Maggy character took over 2 hours). The heroine, newcomer Claire Foy, becomes the primary focus of the entire story and deservedly so. Claire called the making of the series like a "special Christmas gift". Kudos to the casting director, Rachel Freck, who brought together a wonderful cast to the series and for her encouragement to Claire Foy which was crucial to her selection for the leading role (she flubbed the first two auditions for the part). The musical pieces (especially the haunting opening score with the piano and string instrument and Amy Dorrit's pensive mood music scenes when she was thinking about Arthur or was with him - taken from the Chinese music box) are beautifully matched to the story actions throughout the presentation. Dickens is mostly known for his more popular works such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations. Little Dorrit (originally titled "Nobody's Fault" by Dickens) deserves more wider recognition because its message is one that touches the heart of nearly everyone. A rich, moving, and touching story excellently presented. The series is a big departure from what you normally see on TV or in the theaters.
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IMPORTANT NOTE TO THOSE CONTEMPLATING THE PURCHASE OF THE DVD:

Please note that some of the merchants offering this DVD are Netherlands (or non-UK) based sellers (the shipping information will show something like "Dispatched from the Netherlands" or the description has something like "European (Dutch) version"). These sellers are selling a movie version that ONLY contains Dutch (or non-English) subtitles (but with English audio). These DVDs were made for non-UK speaking audiences, but can be sold to other European countries and the rest of the world. The box cover and menu screens on the DVD are in non-English words and does NOT match the photo shown for this item listing. If you want to buy a movie version with English subtitles, make sure you are NOT ordering one from a non-UK based merchant. Only the UK based merchants are selling English subtitled version. If you are unsure, email the seller first and ask.

I have both an English and Dutch subtitled versions and they play fine on my region free DVD player. Please also note, the Dutch subtitled version does NOT have chapter settings on the DVD. So you cannot go directly to a particular scene within an episode unlike the BBC DVD English subtitled version. Also, the Dutch subtitled version does not have the supplemental material found on the UK English subtitled DVD version (such as the "Little Dorrit- an insight" extra). Both versions do contain the same movie run time.
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121 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last, 30 Oct 2008
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
After 'Dombey and Son' this must be the hardest book of Dickens' to adapt for the screen. The last Dickens we were given was 'Oliver Twist', which was pretty mediocre but I had been waiting to see this since I heard it was being made about eighteen months ago. It seems the BBC could have another hit on its hands. Like 'Bleak House' this has been filmed in 30 minute segments giving it a soap like feel and seems to work with this story, as it did with 'Bleak House'. I did have a few qualms about some of the casting, but these seem to have been misplaced.

So, what is Little Dorrit about? The story is about lies, deceit and secrets, a tangled web of all these has been formed and the question is can the honest and honourable Mr Clennam unravel these to find what is going on. After the death of the senior Mr Clennam his son is sent back to England with a pocket watch and a message for his mother. Only at this stage does the young Mr Clennam become aware that some shady dealings have gone on in the past, and he is determined to get to the bottom of it, especially as he has taken a liking to Amy 'Little' Dorrit and is concerned that his family may have bankrupted her father, placing him in the Marshalsea.

The acting is good, and so are the set pieces, costumes, etc. This is truly a sumptious adaptation that really brings the novel to life. For some purists they may not agree, as not every scene from the book and every word is repeated, but surely the success of an adaptation is the ability to evoke the essence of a story and make something that captivates an audience? To this end Andrew Davies has supplied a screenplay that does just that and once again he can rest on his laurels as the supremo of classic novel to screen adaptations.

I would strongly advise people to read the book at some time, as it is really good. I have the Penguin edition Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics), but there are cheaper ones for sale on this website. I bought this edition as I needed a replacement for my old battered copy, and I knew this one had the illustrations in, which I don't think all the copies on the market necessarily do have.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best costume drama in a decade!, 5 Dec 2008
By 
M. Limb "Big Dorrit" (Gloucestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The past decade has produced some fabulous costume dramas, but Little Dorrit has to be the best: it combines moving profundity, eccentric humour and a dazzling evocation of Victorian London and Venice to create a visually spellbinding and continuously gripping experience for the viewer. It's impeccably cast, and all of the actors give superb performances, down to the last telling detail.

It's astonishing that Andrew Davies could have captured such a complex, multi-layered story with such daringly economical dialogue, but every character and scene is drawn in intricate, mesmerizing detail and the feel of the book is recreated with utmost faithfulness. Mr Pancks' leapfrog is one of our favourite television moments of all time! No-one could fail to enjoy this adaptation. We'll be watching the episodes back to back continuously for the rest of our lives!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Adaptation, 1 Mar 2009
By 
Little Dorrit "ldorrit" (WA state) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I love the earlier interpretation of Little Dorrit done by Christine Edzard in the 80s, but it did leave out a lot of the characters that this production has included. The writing, acting, sets, editing are as good as the recent Bleak House and shows once again that Dickens will always be 'current'. Wouldn't want to be without either editions of one of my favorite novels.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 26 Nov 2008
By 
Morna Wheatley (Hammersmith, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The BBC's latest adaption of Little Dorrit is not to be missed. The casting is excellent (M. Rigaud is truly terrifying), and the costumes and sets are just right. Every moment is riveting, one is constantly wondering which way the story is going to turn next, and although the plot is perhaps a little contrived in places (a few too many coincidences), it doesn't detract from the enjoyment. In fact I'm beside myself at the end of each episode, wanting to know what will happen next. Not normally a great lover of Dickens, this production has changed my mind. Don't miss it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit, 5 April 2009
By 
Ms. H. Levan (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This dramatisation of the Dickens novel is yet another triumph for Andrew Davies. Having just read the book, I can vouch for the remarkable closeness of the original plot to the adaptation. The casting is almost perfect, with Arthur looking perhaps a little younger than his 40 years and world travel might suggest. Claire Foy is a real find as Little Dorrit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dorrit one; Clennam nil, 26 April 2014
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This really is a book of two stories, and one of them is excellent.

That first - the story of the Dorrits, with father in the Marshalsea for debt (like Dickens snr), and all the debt-related stuff around Mr Pancks and the horrible hypocrite landlord of Bleeding Heart Yard, and the Meagles Family, and Tatty Coram, and Miss Wade, and all the stuff about poverty - subjects on which Dickens could write with proper authority.

And then there's the House of Clennam, presided over by a nasty old bag in a wheelchair, and it eventually falls down - it's a clear forerunner of Satis House, though nowhere near as good, and the nice, if dim, servant married to the nasty clever servant, I'm sure I've seen that with Mr and Mrs Quilp, and I've no idea what House of Clennam deals in but I'd bet it's the same commodities as do Dombey and Son, and that Ponzi Scheme is straight out of Martin Chuzzlewit, and the villain Rigaud appears to be on the run from A Tale of Two Cities. (Having written all that I realise that Amy Dorrit and her father remind me very strongly of Little Nell and her grandad - after ten novels Mr Dickens may have been starting to run short of ideas).

So half of this is very fine Dickens - the great man doing what he did best - while the other half is the great man doing what he did rather better in other books; not to damn the production, which is first rate, but the book it's based on is less so.

It's a first-rate cast, particularly Maxine Peake as the sapphic villainess, Miss Wade, who never really does enough mischief (Victorian proto-dominatrix written all over her), and Bill Patterson as an insufferable Meagles, and Russell Tovey as the unlucky in love John Chivery with Ron Cook as his dad (always good, Ron Cook), and Alan Armstrong's Dickensian nose playing the noses of both brothers Flintwinch (I don't think I really know why there has to be two of them) and Andy Serkis is Rigaud, looking like a sinister Basil Brush.

And Tom Courtney is wonderful as William Dorrit, with James Fleet as his staunch brother Frederick, and Hampton Court looks just right as the inside of the Marshalsea, while the set for the House of Clennam looks just as decrepit as it should do, and it falls down really well.

Judy Parfitt does a magnificent job of making old Mrs Clennam the horriblest of Dickensian old bags, and I really do not know how her son turned out to be such a nice chap.

Fine production, but a potboiler of a book (half of it anyway).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent production from the BBC/Boston, 11 May 2010
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
As with "Bleak House" this is a wonderful production with wonderful acting and evocative theme music. But then, why am I not giving it five stars rather than giving it 4 starts? I think the problem is with the book "Little Dorrit" itself - as a drama it has nothing like the quality of Bleak House - the book is a book of 2 halves which fit together somewhat akwardly i.e the pre and post incarceration period for the Dorrits are like 2 books glued together, the first being decidedly better than the second.

No matter how good a production is, its very difficult to cure a problem which is a problem with the book itself. There are some parts of the story which are too bizarre to be beleivable - the murdering frenchman, for example, is not really believable and I felt uncomfortable with the ending (the House of Clenham angle) - obviously it was delightful that Clenham and Little Dorrit get it together. So, what I am saying is that the book has too many problems and I don't think without being unfaithful to the book, that these problems can be ironed out bu any production. Thus, whilst I greeted each Bleak House episode with real interest and enthusiasm, I was happy to merely watch Little Dorrit on and off i.e. I was not driven to watching it whereas I was with Bleak House. The characterisation is absolutely wonderful - I particulary liked the guy playing Planks.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little lost at the end, 18 Dec 2008
By 
S. Thomas - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is a fantastic series, although I found the first episode a little difficult to get into and almost gave up at that point. I would therefore urge anyone that decides to buy the DVD to persevere past the first 30 minutes or so as the story becomes mesmerising.

The majority of the casting was great; the performances given by Eve Myles and Annette Crosbie were incredible.

My only criticism is that I found the ending rather confusing, probably because I have not read the book. I am therefore buying the book to work out exactly what happened at the end - please do not take this as a criticism of the adaptation as it really was worth while, I am just not clear what the big secret was.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Any Answers?, 27 Feb 2009
By 
Sterling Mike (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
We bought this product on the strength of Bleak House-another Andrew Davis adaptation for the BBC. We were not disappointed until the final episode-great characters and acting, complex story which became clearer as each element came together, and stylish production. We waited for all to be explained in the final part. But when it came it seemed too rushed, and we still can't work out who was related to whom, and why. Will have to read the book sometime...
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