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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

3.6 3
Director: Roman Polanski, Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Jamie Foreman

Cast: Roman Polanski, Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Jamie Foreman


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Director Roman Polanski gives one of Charles Dickens' best-loved stories a new and dynamic interpretation in this period drama. Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) is a young orphan in Victorian England who has been sent to a dank workhouse run by the miserly Mr. Bumble (Jeremy Swift) when it is learned there is no one to care for him. When Oliver dares to ask for more gruel,


Director Roman Polanski gives one of Charles Dickens' best-loved stories a new and dynamic interpretation in this period drama. Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) is a young orphan in Victorian England who has been sent to a dank workhouse run by the miserly Mr. Bumble (Jeremy Swift) when it is learned there is no one to care for him. When Oliver dares to ask for more gruel, he is sent away to live with an undertaker, who treats him poorly. Preferring life on the streets to the treatment he's been receiving, Oliver runs away to London, where he falls in with the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden), a youthful pickpocket. The Artful Dodger is one of a gang of young thieves overseen by Fagin (Ben Kingsley), a paternal but sinister criminal mastermind. While Oliver finds a home of sorts with Fagin and his young cohorts, he also falls into a dangerous life made all the more threatening by the presence of Fagin's menacing overlord, Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman). Oliver Twist was Polanski's first feature film after enjoying a major career resurgence following the international success of his Oscar-winning World War II drama The Pianist.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Few literary masterpieces have been adapted to the screen as frequently as this Charles Dickens classic; Roman Polanski’s recent version is the 26th we know of -- and one of the very best, to boot. We suspect the Polish-born director identifies very strongly with this tale of a young orphan cast adrift on the ramshackle streets of London’s shabbiest neighborhood: In 1943, at the age of ten, Polanski saw his parents carted off by Nazis and was left to fend for himself in the Warsaw Ghetto. Unlike earlier versions of Oliver Twist that romanticized the protagonist’s situation and surroundings, Polanski’s adaptation depicts an even filthier, less hospitable city. The story’s essential details remain the same: young Oliver (Barney Clark), having left the orphanage, falls in with the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden) and other street urchins working as pickpockets under the guidance of the shifty Fagin (Ben Kingsley). The lad becomes part of this seedy little fraternity and runs afoul of the cruel Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman), whose kindhearted lover, Nancy (Leanne Rowe), ultimately falls victim to his murderous impulses. Dickens made Fagin a Jew and presented him as an anti-Semitic caricature. More than any other filmmaker who’s tackled the story, Polanski softens the character and makes him almost sympathetic. That’s an interesting innovation, and one that enables Kingsley to contribute a more fully rounded portrayal -- it is, in fact, one of his best. For that matter, Oliver Twist is one of Polanski’s best as well.
All Movie Guide
The mother of all Victorian orphan epics gets remade for the umpteenth time, as Oliver Twist goes under the lens of acclaimed filmmaker Roman Polanski for this 2005 release. Polanski's update of the classic Dickens tale is highly competent, yet wholly unnecessary -- which may have more to do with the era of its release than any objective judgment of its cinematic worth. By 2005, straightforward period pieces had lost their box-office clout, so a tale retold many times -- and not that differently this time from the others -- seemed to have little raison d'être. Almost across the board, critics lauded Oliver Twist, but taken as the follow-up to Polanski's best director win for The Pianist (2002), it can't help but fall short in both urgency and distinction. As ever, Polanski is excellent at establishing a period design and giving it a rough and dark authenticity. No character embodies this commitment to detail more than Ben Kingsley as the cretin Fagin, uglied up with makeup, prosthetics, and a creaky lowlife's accent. The performances of Kingsley and several others are a credit to the production. But two key performances prevent Oliver Twist from being as effective as it could have been. As the murderer Bill Sykes, Jamie Foreman is more mean than frightening, while Barney Clark is too impassive to make much of an impact in the title role. It's a good metaphor for the film on the whole. While beyond reproach technically, Oliver Twist can't make a thematic argument for its own existence by bringing any relevant new interpretations to the forefront. Dickens enthusiasts and the dwindling period piece crowd will no doubt find Polanski's update worthy, but as for any future attempts to film the definitive Oliver Twist -- please, sir, we don't need any more.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Twist by Polanski: the director reflects on the making of Oliver Twist; The Best of Twist: an in-depth look at the film through the sets, costumes, cinematography, editing and music; Kidding with Oliver Twist: meet the young stars as they discuss filming Oliver Twist

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ben Kingsley Fagin
Barney Clark Oliver Twist
Jamie Foreman Bill Sykes
Harry Eden Artful Dodger
Leanne Rowe Nancy
Edward Hardwicke Mr. Brownlow
Ian McNeice Mr. Limbkins
Mark Strong Toby Crackit
Jeremy Swift Mr. Bumble
Frances Cuka Mrs. Bedwin
Michael Heath Mr. Sowerberry
Gillian Hanna Mrs. Sowerberry
Alun Armstrong Magistrate Fang
Andrew dela Tour Workhouse Master
Peter Copley Dining Hall Master
Liz Smith Old Woman
Lewis Chase Charley Bates
Chris Overton Noah Claypole

Technical Credits
Roman Polanski Director,Producer
Robert Benmussa Producer
Jean-Marie Blondel Sound/Sound Designer
Timothy Burrill Executive Producer
Hervé de Luze Editor
Pawel Edelman Cinematographer
Celestia Fox Casting
Ronald Harwood Screenwriter
Peter Moravec Executive Producer
Rachel Portman Score Composer
Alain Sarde Producer
Anna Sheppard Costumes/Costume Designer
Allan Starski Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Oliver Twist
1. Start [2:25]
2. Time for Education [3:08]
3. "I Want Some More" [3:39]
4. Liberal Terms for a Boy [3:11]
5. At the Undertaker's [3:32]
6. Settling In... and Out [6:51]
7. The Road to London [3:20]
8. A Little Kindness [2:24]
9. Breakfast With the Dodger [3:38]
10. Fagin's Warm Welcome [5:22]
11. Learning the Game [7:08]
12. "Stop, Thief!" [2:52]
13. On Trial [3:36]
14. How to Find Oliver? [3:06]
15. A Loving Home [7:13]
16. An Errand Gone Awry [5:38]
17. Chat About Hanging [4:44]
18. Bill's Lecture [6:09]
19. Bungled Burglary [6:34]
20. Plans for the Boy [4:21]
21. An Urgent Message [3:41]
22. No Going Out Tonight [4:19]
23. The Dodger Dodges [4:16]
24. Flight of Thieves [2:50]
25. Silence... and News [4:19]
26. Bull's-eye's Not Fooled [3:23]
27. Desperate Bargain [5:41]
28. "You Were Kind to Me" [12:44]


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Oliver Twist 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good movie with some very good actors. Ben Kingsley did a great job of portraying the character of Fagin and Barney Clark made a great Oliver Twist. Roman Polanski did a fantastic job of recreating Victorian England. I was glad that the script was similar to the book’s dialogue and contained the old English slang of the time the story is set in. However those who have read the book may feel that the movie, like most films based on books, leaves out many things from the book. For example, characters such as Noah Claypole and the Artful Dodger have smaller roles in the movie than they did in the book. I still enjoyed the movie though, and I definitely recommend that people watch it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was just amazing! It is another Polanski masterpiece. (I also recommend 'The Pianist' by him). A splendid adaptation of the book. It was hilarious. (It's not supposed to be, but it is). Roman Polanski adds a bit of humor.