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130 of 133 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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5 of 6 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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130 of 133 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
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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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122 of 128 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
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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 54 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
(REAL NAME)   
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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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 26 Nov. 2008
By 
Mornaw (Hammersmith, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't wait for the next episode even though I could see where it was going, 21 April 2011
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I haven't read the novel of Little Doritt because although I enjoy adaptations of Dickens I find it difficult to read his novels. That said after watching this adaptation I may give it another go.
The novel charts the rising and falling fortunes of its characters, mainly Little Amy Doritt, her father and Arthur Clennam but even the smaller characters are well fleshed out and complex. For me the best acted parts were from Amy's sister Fanny, their father and Rigaud, the Frenchman who plagues everyone he meets. These characters seemed more interesting than Amy and Arthur who, in comparison, seem quite bland at first.
At first I thought several of the characters were almost like cartoons, the clichéd girl and man too good for their surroundings, the evil rent collector, the man going a bit insane in prison, the snobby sister and good for nothing brother, the even more evil Frenchman. But as the story goes on even the smaller part characters are fleshed out and everyone is given a more rounded personality. At times of crisis the true measure of a person is revealed, and that certainly happens in this. The only parts that confused me a bit were I couldn't quite figure out where Miss Wade and Harriet/Tattyclorum fit into everything, especially the latter, but maybe their parts are clearer in the novel. We find out Miss Wade's part a little in the last episode but her motivation isn't explained as far as I can remember. The plot was not hard to follow, so much so even without reading the book I could see where it was going, but I enjoyed it so much I didn't care.

Production wise I thought the look of the show was wonderful, from the run down look of the prison and Arthur's mother's home to the sumptuousness of Venice and the homes of the wealthier people. The shift in everyone's fortunes are at times subtle and at times devastating and this is shown in their actors' demeanour, and dress.
Highly recommended for any fan of Dickens or period dramas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent BBC production of Dickens, 23 May 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Little Dorrit is one of Dickens' later books: huge, complex and angry. While I really enjoyed this BBC production, I do think Andrew Davies' adaptation makes it into a much sunnier piece than the original book.

Little Dorrit herself, as we can tell from her name, is one of Dickens' `angels in the house', his `good' women, who conform to patriarchy and never rock the boat. She is played excellently in this by Foy, who makes her a figure of unmitigated virtue amongst a society full of shams and hypocrites and yet keeps her interesting enough for us to sympathise with her.

This is a story about prisons, literal and metaphorical, and the circulation of money which makes it surprisingly topical. With the stasis of the Circumlocution Office (the civil service) and the collapse of a banking empire that ruins huge swathes of society, this is a prescient comment on capitalism.

And yet Dickens, as always, manages to humanise his story so that we never feel we're being lectured to. With its gallery of grotesques and a whole range of famous acting faces (including Tom Courtenay's wonderful Mr Dorrit) this is typical BBC Dickens: beautifully acted and produced but ever so slightly `nicer' than the more indignant and angry book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect adaptation., 29 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The perfect gift for all historical movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

This BBC adaptation of the Dickens novel enthralls from the very beginning, mainly because of the outstanding performances from the splendid cast. Every single character, even minor ones like the insufferably haughty Merdle butler or the paranoid Italian (perhaps with the exception of Maggy who's perfectly manicured fingernails in one close-up blew her otherwise worthy portrayal), has been ideally cast and all the actors are absolutely convincing in their delivery.

What made me write this review, though, was Tom Courtenay's heart-wrenching performance as Mr. Dorritde, his multifaceted Dorrit awed me until the very end and will resonate with me for a long time.

What I particularly liked about the series was how we got more than a glimpse of all the characters' 'little lives', people going about their respective businesses, revolving in their own little worlds. Even if a scene only touched on a certain character, setting, costumes, and dialogue provided ample information for the viewer to evoke the full picture of this character's life and to imagine how they would go on after the camera had panned away to continue with the main story.

On top of that, the great care put into the selection of costumes and locations made Little Dorrit a real feast for the eye, perfectly accompanied by the wonderful score by John Lunn.

May this be a 'true Dickens' or not, what it surely is, is Grand TV. And as such, it adds another sparkling jewel to my cherished collection of BBC adaptations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling adaptation of one of the master's more mature serialisations, 10 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Far from disappointing I found this outstanding; the casting is impeccable - pretty much a roll-call of current British top acting talent - as is every other aspect of the production. This is the kind of period drama that the BBC excels in; Alun Armstrong's leering bully of a manservant, and the pitiable but kind-hearted rent-collector Pancks, epitomise Dickens' ability to create both monstrous and magnificent characters - a previous reviewer perhaps needs to be reminded that grotesque cariactures were the writer's stock in trade, and it is precisely this kind of production that can allow acting excesses - where they are actually appropriate. The costumes, scenery, Victorian ambience, and Andrew Davies' cohesive script, are all on the button; I only hope the Tories' plans to downsize the BBC do not render this sort of fine drama to fall by the wayside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let comments about the last episode put you off, 2 Jun. 2009
By 
Peter M (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is simply terrific entertainment, which as a DVD you can watch in pieces as fit your lifestyle and diary. We watched it in four sessions over the course of a week, and were spellbound throughout. Matthew McFadyen - almost in every frame -is the best of a spellbinding cast, with Claire Foy a revelation; Andy Serkis, Eddie Mersan, Tom Cortenay, Russell Tovey and Judy Parfitt also stand out; and though the group of actors playing the characters Pet/Gowan/Tatticorum/Miss Wade were weaker, none fall short. The production values are great, the photography and sets effective, the world of the 1820's convincingly recreated. I can't sing the praises of this production enough. And as you are buying a DVD, you can (unlike watching the series on TV) rewind if you miss the revlations of the final episode.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous adaptation - will tempt you to read the book!, 14 May 2012
By 
Nigel Mc (The Chilterns) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Little Dorrit [Blu-ray] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this excellent production when I bought it on Blu-ray dvd about 6 months ago. We would watch a half hour episode and then look at each other and then wordlessly agree to watch another and consequently we came to the end all too soon. The dramatization was so good that it encouraged me to go out and buy the book. I have delayed this review until such time that I can compare it to the novel.

Inevitably, even a 7 hour plus dramatization has to be a précis of the book and for the sake of clarity a few actual changes have to be made. I can live with most of these `tweaks' and applaud Andrew Davis for some of the changes which were obviously made to aid the viewer's comprehension. As with most of Dickens the storyline is complicated with numerous characters and a mass of wonderful detail. This production does not skimp on these essential elements and I cannot fault the casting, the acting, the photography or the technical intricacies of the production.

Personally, I think that in this case it is a good idea to see dramatisation before reading the book. This may be a lazy way to get into the book but it certainly worked for me. My only mild criticism would be that I would have preferred a more detailed denouement. Too much is crammed into the final episode and the viewer has too many unanswered questions on the fine detail and on the outcome for all the characters that we have got to know so well. Perhaps the BBC were running out of money! The production must have cost a small fortune.

This dramatization is fairly clear to follow with the possible exception of the identical twin brothers, Flintwinch. A momentary lapse of attention will likely cause some confusion on the mind of viewers - be warned!

This Blu-ray production is absolutely superb with razor sharp clarity in the video and excellent audio. This production deserves to be viewed at least twice and I am really looking forward to seeing it again. This set of 4 discs is superb value and it is highly recommended!
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Little Dorrit [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Little Dorrit [Blu-ray] [Region Free] by Diarmuid Lawrence (Blu-ray - 2010)
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