Saturday, 14 January 2012
Dickens on the Box
In fact, someone on Facebook was un-gallant enough to ask "Should Pip be so much prettier than Estella?", which was actually a fair question in the circumstances, since an unaccountably plain young woman had been chosen for that role.
And casting for Dickens is so much about looks. I had worried that Gillian Anderson was far too
beautiful to be Miss Havisham but actually found her performance quite wonderful. I hope she wins a Bafta.
But then, although I don't remember much about the old black and white film, I do carry memories of the equally marvellous Martita Hunt. Not that she wasn't beautiful too in her way but it was closer to the feeling that the book gave me of the decaying and derelict jilted bride. Though how much of that was costume and sets, it's hard to say.
One of them is his last, the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood and by great good fortune, this was also adapted by TV, in two installments last week.
I have on my shelves a "complete Edwin Drood" with an ending written by the late great Leon Garfield, which I doubt could be surpassed. The Gwyneth Hughes version for TV made so many changes that I feel I really must read the book again to see how much of it was justified by the portion Dickens had written before death prevented his completing it in 1870.
Here, as always, it seems really to be the mystery of John Jasper, played in this version by a suitably brooding Matthew Rhys. But the minor characters of Mr Grewgious (Alun Armstrong), Canon Crisparkle (Rory Kinnear) and his mother (Julia Mackenzie) were all beautifully rounded out.
So, my favourite Dickens novels are:
Dombey and Son
Our Mutual Friend
And my favourite characters:
Dick Swiveller (The Old Curiosity Shop)
Betsy Trotwood (David Copperfield)
Mr Twemlow (Our Mutual Friend)
Mr Wemmick (Great Expectations)
Mrs Plornish (Little Dorrit)
Flora Finching (Little Dorrit)
What are your favourite books and characters of Dickens? And what are your favourite film and TV adaptations?