Saturday, May 28, 2011

David Copperfield (1999)

David Copperfield 2000
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!


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Storyline: David Copperfield lives a nearly idyllic existence with his beautiful mother Clara and their housekeeper Peggotty. His life changes forever when his mother re-marries to Mr. Murdstone a no-nonsense businessman and a strict disciplinarian who believes in corporal punishment. David is soon sent to a strict boarding school but when his mother dies, his stepfather sends him to London to work in a foul smelling factory. He forms a close friendship with Mr. Micawber living with him and his loving family but as the Micawbers are forced by circumstance to relocate, he seeks out his aunt Betsey Trotwood. She sends him to a fine school and he lodges with Mr. Wickfield and his daughter Agnes. As he grows older David is apprenticed to a law firm where he soon meets the senior partner's daughter, Dora. Life's challenges continue to confront him but with the help of friends and family, he overcomes adversity including his aunt's loss of her savings.

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Scenes: Sets are wonderful! From David's idyllic childhood home and his dreary boarding school to the Peggotty's happy seaside home and the splendor of London, all of the sets are very well done. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Peggotty's boat house.


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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.

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Music: The music is light and airy and sets the tone for the scenes without being too overpowering. Soundtrack for this film was composed by 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!


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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:

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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 CiarĂ¡n 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. 


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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,

5 comments:

Jemimah C. said...

I still have to watch both the 1999 and 2000 movie versions of David Copperfield. My favorite character from David Copperfield would most probably be Agnes.

Melody said...

I've seen this one, and I enjoyed it. (Although that girl he married first really annoyed me; and the fact that he fell for her!)

JaneGS said...

David Copperfield is one of my favorite Dickens' novels, but I still haven't seen an adaptation. This one is intriguing because of Maggie Smith, and some of the other cast members.

Lepidoptera said...

Just having finished reading David Copperfield, I was hoping to find some reviews on the movies. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. Even though I have not yet seen the 1999 adaptation, I wholeheartedly agree that Maggie Smith would be an ideal Betsy Trotwood and hope to one day see her in that role.

birdienl said...

This dvd has been in my dvd drawer unseen for a year now (can you believe it? An unseen period drama for a year?) I somehow got the idea that it wasn't very good, but your review reassured me I should really watch it soon

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