Top positive review
In the name of God
on 20 November 2016
The movie opens in the Workhouse. Young boys trudge for their meagre grub. Above them is the sign: God is Love clear and centre stage. You see this after you have uncurled yourself from that gorgeous orchestral version of ‘As Long as he Needs me’ for the Overture getting the audience to settle down in the Stalls in 1968.
Oliver’s first instinct when he escapes from being an Undertaker’s boy is to sing ‘Where is Love?’ Initially premiered on Stage in 1960 it ushered-in the decade that made love socially acceptable. Previous decades had seen so much death by disease and guns that long life was never expected. Love could not be afforded. Not explicit, gregarious, demonstrative love. Along with The Sound of Music (1959) and The Beatles, love could be sung in the streets and danced all around.
The end of food rationing in 1954 and conscription in 1960 along with the free health care for the past fifteen years all provided the springboard for the kind of freedom unheard of for all classes in the UK. So Oliver! starts with ‘Food Glorious Food!’ and underlines the difference between those who have rich colourful food and those who get ‘gruel.’ The hardest of victories had been won yet the bad times entertainingly remembered to an extreme.
Making your way to London was another popular theme in the 60s. Oliver arrives in the most colourful greens of a basket of cabbages! The blu ray (big improvement on DVD) really shining here with his young boy face amongst the leaves. He is looking ‘For that Sweet Hello that was Meant for Me,’ aren’t we all? His fortune indeed. The working classes happily working ‘Consider yourself one of the Family’ when all you had was each other.
From the smoke like Harry Lime from the shadows in the best film ever made The Third Man (same director) appears the cunning Master rogue Fagin. Stripped of all Jewish prejudice (in the novel), I’m glad to say, a man who knows men ‘you will be the greatest man of all time’ building the young Oliver up.
The laws within us contrast with the law of the land. The drunken Judge but one example of the ridiculousness of the Law. Scoundrels at all levels.
Of course the core of the story sets nature against nurture in the form of the always poor Oliver but his instinctive good manners. Does environment make you or parental dna? Everyone is unique is my answer.
The 1960s saw the end of the kind of deference such as tipping your hat to those of a higher station and submissiveness in general. Knowing your station was a cruel view of living. Whilst the language of ‘opportunity’ often rings-out from politicians, with this current Conservative Party government they are/have turning it around grinding us down at every turn. Saying something else. Fascism is back in this country. Dictating what is done. Avoiding Parliament. Ignoring the will of the electorate. Saying something else. Manipulation without remorse. Did you see Hammond talking money on Sunday? without the least regard for the affects on those on the lowest incomes. Pitiless politics. Workhouse mentalities.