I went with the 1999 adaptation - it's wonderful. The casting is amazing. Maggie Smith is Aunt Betsey! One of the Davids is a very young Daniel Radcliffe. Bob Hoskins is Mr. Micawber and Imelda Staunton is his wife. The young man who plays adult David even manages to look like Dickens as an older man… perhaps because of the facial hair. Also, Ian McKellen is an incredibly nasty Creakle! Dawn French is hilarious as Mrs. Crupp. I wasn’t previously familiar with Pauline Quirke, who plays Peggotty, but she is marvelous in the role. The sweet relationship she has with David is quite evident in the film. Joanna Page plays Dora - I loved her in Gavin and Stacey!
It’s a BBC production and they always seem to get these things right. Raise your hand if you’ve watched the five hour Pride and Prejudice more than a dozen times. (Dude, Colin Firth coming out of the lake? I'm with Bridget Jones on that scene.)
They use the older David as narrator just like in the book. It's beautiful and haunting at the same time. And they kept/adapted the wonderful first line – “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, this story must show.” How great is that on the scale of great first lines?
It’s a very long book so of course much had to be cut even though it’s a three hour production. I could have done with more time in Switzerland but then I am in love with mountains. I would love to see the Alps! They did a seamless job of blending when they needed to blend and cutting out the minor characters. And in case you were wondering, Uriah Heep is marvelous!
There’s also a 20 minute feature – half of which is academics talking about the novel and Dickens and half about the filming of the movie. I enjoyed it, as well.
Now, how does the book compare with the movie? Well, duh, I like the book better. Even though it’s a fine and faithful adaptation, it isn’t as good as the scenes I imagined as I read. How could anything ever been as good as imagination?
I really like the Books to Movies challenge so I plan to do more of these. (Plus I’m going for the steak knives.)