Another Charles Dickens adaptation that I've seen a few times but have failed to review until now. David Copperfield (1999) is a BBC adaptation, usually shown in two parts. I really enjoy the story of young David Copperfield, it is not that much different from Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby or Great Expectations - all have similar themes and follow the main character through trials to a joyful end. After seeing a few versions I've decided my favorite adaptation is David Copperfield (2000) which I've already reviewed. But both have lovely script, scenery, costumes, actors and fun moments. If it was possible I'd take a combination of both adaptations!
Costumes: Costumes are very lovely, I particularly like the dresses David's mother wears at the beginning of the film and the other ladies in the film also have some lovely bonnets and gowns. The gentlemen are suitably attired, David has some very find hats.
Robert Lane who, I just found out, composed soundtracks for many other recognizable period dramas. His other work includes: Jane Eyre (2006), Daniel Deronda (2002), The 39 Steps (2008), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (2008), South Riding (2011), John Adams (TV series, which I have yet to see) and Merlin (TV Series). Wow! What a find!
Actors You Might Recognize: There are many recognizable actors in this adaptation that are continuously popping out, mostly in smaller roles, throughout the film. Here are just a few:
- Emilia Fox as Clara Copperfield - delightfully pretty and sweet as Daniel's young mother. Her other period dramas include: Pride and Prejudice (1995) as Georgiana Darcy, Rebecca (1997), Marple: The Moving Finger, Ballet Shoes and a few others.
- Pauline Quirke as Peggotty - the faithful family servant. Most recognizable as the faithful family servant Dixon in North & South (2006). Lovely to see her again!
- Maggie Smith as Betsey Trotwood - I can't say enough about how wonderful Dame Maggie was in this role as David's opinionated but kindly aunt! She was born to play this role! Some of my favorite of her roles include: Mrs. Medlock in The Secret Garden, Lady Gresham in Becoming Jane, Mrs. Oldknow in From Time To Time, the very quotable Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey and is also lovely in Ladies In Lavender.
- Ian McKellen as Creakle - the degrading teacher fond of scaring his students. It's surprisingly a very small role but very well done.
- Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Micawber - I really love her declarations "I never will desert you Mr. Micawber!" An incredibly talented actress who I always enjoy. My favorite of her roles is still gossipy Miss Pole from Cranford! Also in Sense and Sensibility (1995), Twelfth Night (1996) and Much Ado About Nothing (1993).
My Thoughts: This really is a visually lovely adaptation. I'm not quite sure how faithful it is to the book because it does seem to go rather quickly. There are some intense moments in David's childhood when he's at school and then his step-father isn't very nice to him either. But there are many lighter moments as well. As I said above I really enjoyed Maggie Smith as Aunt Betsey Trotwood. My favorite scenes are the ones where she and Mr. Dick are deciding what's to be done with young David. I really enjoy the character, she's very particular but has a very kind heart. The Micawbers are also very sweet and fun to watch. The character of David Copperfield is an interesting one, not unlike Pip from Great Expectations or Nicholas from Nicholas Nickleby. He has several trials to face, and even happiness is sometimes tainted, but he has a noble character through it all. Young (and now popular) actor Daniel Radcliffe played David as a young boy and did a very good job, but unfortunately they did not take as great care in casting the grown up David. While Ciarán McMenamin (a very lovely Irish Gaelic name!) does a fine job in the role, there is really nothing remarkable about his portrayal and he lost my interest pretty quickly. Thankfully the other characters, like the lovely Agnes and her father, kept me interested in how their stories were going to turn out.
My Recommendations: Because of this disappointing David I much prefer David Copperfield (2000) because actor Hugh Dancy appears at the beginning of the film sharing his story as David and then, capturing the viewer's attention, carries the rest of the film very well. But I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys Charles Dickens adaptations see both versions and decide for themselves. There are many remarkeable performances in this version which are not to be missed
Have you ever seen this adaptation? Did you enjoy it?
If you've read the book how does this adaptation compare?
Do you have a favorite character from David Copperfield?
Very Truly Your's,