I have loved the story of Oliver Twist since I was a child. Iíve always seen it as a story about believing in the best in people. I have always loved how it focuses on the humanity of those who do horrible things. Maybe this has been a part of why this tale has remained so popular for so long.
We all know that Oliver Twist has been adapted for the screen many times. Why another version? Normally I enjoy new takes on old stories. Besides, there are no new ideas anymore, right? So why not mine the past for gold?
Well, Roman Polanskiís Oliver Twist seems to prove that idea. While competent and enjoyable, Polanski doesnít offer us anything new. The film works for two reasons; the film makers know what they are doing and the story is timelessly enjoyable. Still, it never gets beyond a Masterpiece Theatre presentation. I donít mean that as an insult in anyway. Itís just not high praise either.
One who deserves high praise is the always excellent Ben Kingsley. Characters like Fagan are often harder to portray than the average persona due to the tendency to drive them over the top. Kingsley keeps his performance in check and brings out the humanity in Fagan. This performance is the lynch pin of the movie. I have always felt that without the successful presentation of Faganís humanity, Oliver Twist falls apart.
I may still be waiting for the film version of Oliver Twist that gives the subject the treatment it deserves, but in the meantime, Polanskiís take is worthwhile checking out. Use this opportunity to show your kids what a real movie can be instead of showing them something with Hillary Duff.