Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)


I've been in a Dickens mood lately, first with Great Expectations, then two different versions of Nicholas Nickleby and also I've been re-watching a David Copperfield which I hope to review soon.
I had only seen Nicholas Nickleby (2002) once when it first came out on VHS back in 2003 or 2004 so I was excited to watch it again. The only things I remembered about it was that it was rather short, the school Nicholas went to was horrible, and that Anne Hathaway is at the end of this film using a less than convincing British accent.


Plot: When Mr. Nickleby dies penniless his widow and two teenage children are left at the mercy of his rich but stingy brother Ralph Nickleby. Young Nicholas Nickleby is sent as a teacher to a boys school in Yorkshire where conditions are less than pleasant, and he endeavorers to make life tolerable for his students. When he quarrels with the schoolmaster he travels across the country in search of work with his crippled friend Smike in tow. Meanwhile his sweet sister Kate is set up in as a dressmaker's shop assistant and her uncle introduces her to rich young men in the hopes she'll make a good match. Nicholas meets a wide variety of characters as his story progresses and discovers the mystery behind Smike's parentage.  


Settings, Costumes & Soundtrack: Settings were dark and bleak but not as dirty and grungy as in the 2001 BBC adaptation. Almost everything was true to the Victorian era time period. Some outdoor scenes are stunning. With costumes the overall color scheme is black because many of the characters are in mourning throughout the film. There are some lovely bonnets and hairstyles, top hats and vests. The soundtrack is simply lovely! The music style may be familiar because it was composed by the delightful Rachel Portman who also composed the soundtrack for films like Emma (1996).


Actors You Might Recognize: Many, it was lovely to see so many familiar faces popping up at every turn! Here are just a few:


My Thoughts: This isn't my favorite Charles Dickens' adaptation because it is shorter and moves very quickly. I don't hate it either. I really enjoy the character of Nicholas Nickleby, he's so human and yet of a great noble character that hates injustice and always does what is honorable despite his youth and inexperience. I'm not a huge fan of actor Charlie Hunnman's portrayal of him in this film, his mannerisms are quite true to the period and his acting style is a bit too modern and affected. Others characters and settings are fine. The story holds the viewer's interest, we want to know what is going to happen to Nicholas and his family. It ends happily, even though sadness must come first.


My Recommendations: There is some innuendo and a few scary scenes so this film isn't for young children. If you've read and love the book this probably isn't the adaptation for you. But if you are interested in the story and don't want to sit through the longer adaptation or just want a quick fix of Dickens this film is for you.

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 Nicholas Nickleby?

Film Clip: Mr. & Mrs. Squeers


Kristen Elizabeth Lee said...

Sounds like a great watch!

Little Lady said...

That was a great movie!! Glad to see others love it as well as I! Isn't Dickens GREAT? :)

Katherine Cox said...

One of my favorite aspects of BBC adaptations and series' is there's always sure to be a familiar face.
I remember seeing this version, it's been awhile and it's been even longer since I've seen the one with James D'Arcy, must revisit them.

Anonymous said...

I am actually NOT a fan of Dickens, but this is the only adaption of any of his works that I enjoyed! I thought it was so funny, especially the crazy family who owns the boarding school for boys. I love when the daughter tries to get Nicholas to marry her! lol


Marian said...

I loved the book but felt that this adaptation wasn't quite right. I did appreciate that it was pretty family-friendly; but there was something about the script that seemed too Jane Austen-style--I'd have preferred a more serious tone, as in Little Dorrit. And my favorite character has always been Nicholas. :) Unfortunately, I think Hunnman was not the right actor choice; whereas all the other actors seemed to fit their roles well.

Abby said...

I agree with your comments about Charlie Hunnam's portrayal of Nicholas, although I did like the character. As Marian said, the other casting seemed really well done, but I don't think he was the right choice. I haven't read the book, but some parts did seem a little rushed, and it felt like they left a few parts out. But overall it was an enjoyable film that has encouraged me to read the book :) My favourite character is probably Smike, even though his story is tragic: Jamie Bell did a really good job in the role, especially considering he was only 16 at the time!


Tammy Noel Smith said...

I am new to your blog and find that I simply love it! We share 3 things in common.The love of Jesus,the love of period films and the love of period clothing!I wear period clothing every day and people either laugh at me or are very intrigued and ask why I wear what I wear.They ask if I am Mormon or a Quaker.I tell them I am a Christian but I don't like anyone dictating what I wear.Why should all the actresses have all the fun wearing beautiful clothing?I love Nicolas Nickelby because it speaks about adoption.I love this version,though I admit,I've never seen any other versions.

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