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Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

Here is our thread for the 5-part film adaptation of Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit that will begin airing in most US markets on Sunday, March 29, 2009.
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

It's a major undertaking, reading this 800+ page novel and following along with a 5-part film on PBS, isn't it?  Well, jump in where and when you can.  Remember, there are no tests or quizzes and no midterm grades!

 

One way to start is to watch this video interview about Little Dorrit and Dickens with our previous guest, Dickens scholar, Tatiana Holway; it's available here on the PBS website.

 

EnJOY!

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dulcinea3
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

Actually, having the PBS presentation spread out over five weeks makes it much easier to get through the book in time!  It's the next one, having to read The Old Curiosity Shop, which is comparable in length, and having only one week for the PBS movie that is scaring me!  But I have gotten a good running start on Little Dorrit, and just finished the first volume last night, so I will be able to get an early start on the next novel.

 

I enjoyed the first part last night.  I was unable to read the cast names in the opening credits, but many of the faces were known to me, just not by name in most cases.  I knew Judy Parfitt as Mrs. Clennam and Annette Crosbie (first introduced to me on Masterpiece in her oustanding performance as Katherine of Aragon on The Six Wives of Henry VIII, all those decades ago) as Mr. F's Aunt.

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

I love all those characters that seem to have slipped out of an illustrated Dickens volume. Flintwich and the Meagleses and Pancks are priceless.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

I thought that Flora was perfect, too.  And I liked the touch where they had Arthur imagining her as she looked when she was young and slender, just before she burst into the room.  It really provided the contrast.

 

And Rigaud has the perfect hooked nose!  Although his moustache doesn't seem to point upwards, as it should.  I didn't really like it that they had him murder the inn's landlady, though.

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)


dulcinea3 wrote:

I thought that Flora was perfect, too.  And I liked the touch where they had Arthur imagining her as she looked when she was young and slender, just before she burst into the room.  It really provided the contrast.

 

Yes, that was well done.

 

And Rigaud has the perfect hooked nose!  Although his moustache doesn't seem to point upwards, as it should.  I didn't really like it that they had him murder the inn's landlady, though.

 

Totally unnecessary.


 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

The details in scenery and costumes were extraordinary.  The variety of sets, with each one seeming straight out of the book (from the quarantine in Marseilles to the Bleeding Heart Yard), were visually interesting.  This movie must have cost a fortune to make- it certainly doesn't have the look of a low-budget production.

 

The characters of Amy and Arthur certainly have an amazing amount of patience with their parents.   The film brings out how ridiculous Mrs. Clennam and Mr. Dorrit are, and what lengths their children must go to to pacify them.

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

Hi, everybody-

 

 

The costumes and scenery are indeed amazing.  In fact, however, I doubt the production company had to spend an unusual amount of money on sets.  They've been very clever in their use of locations. 

 

I don't want to give anything away, because I don't believe that spoilers are ok.  However, I can tell you that a particular location seen in a later episode is not all it appears.

 

Also, if you watch Masterpiece as regularly as I do, you will begin to recognize certain locations.  The circular staircase in the Circumlocution office, for example, has been seen in many a grand house.  When shot from a different angle, peopled with different characters, and dressed with different props, it's utterly believable as its own unique location.

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

The filmmakers' creativity certainly shines through. 
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

I have some questions for those who have read the book.  A few minutes ago, I had to delete all 8 hours of Little Dorrit from the editing system.  (The drives are full and I must now move on to Miss Marple....)  I was sorry to see Dorrit go, because I love it! 

 

Here are my questions:  In the tv version, Amy Dorrit is referred to frequently as "little".  Given the title, this could hardly have been avoided. Her smallness isn't explained, though.  Am I right in thinking that Dickens made her little because she was malnourished, having been raised in a prison, and in poverty?

 

Also, I'm wondering about the character of Arthur Clennam.  I belive he's supposed to be "twice" Amy's age.  Actor Matthew Macfadyen is not in fact twice as old as Claire Foy, who plays Amy.  Yet he did a marvelous job of playing "older".  He seems weary and careworn and very much set in his ways.  In the book, I am guessing that he was more definitively described as "middle aged"; is that right?

 

 

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

[ Edited ]

Erin_Delaney wrote:

I have some questions for those who have read the book.  A few minutes ago, I had to delete all 8 hours of Little Dorrit from the editing system.  (The drives are full and I must now move on to Miss Marple....)  I was sorry to see Dorrit go, because I love it! 

 

Here are my questions:  In the tv version, Amy Dorrit is referred to frequently as "little".  Given the title, this could hardly have been avoided. Her smallness isn't explained, though.  Am I right in thinking that Dickens made her little because she was malnourished, having been raised in a prison, and in poverty?

 

Also, I'm wondering about the character of Arthur Clennam.  I belive he's supposed to be "twice" Amy's age.  Actor Matthew Macfadyen is not in fact twice as old as Claire Foy, who plays Amy.  Yet he did a marvelous job of playing "older".  He seems weary and careworn and very much set in his ways.  In the book, I am guessing that he was more definitively described as "middle aged"; is that right?

 

 


 

There is nothing specific about why Little Dorrit is so small, but she is described as being so small as to be often mistaken for a child.  Perhaps Dickens meant to imply that it was as a result of her poverty, but I don't think he ever says that she is malnourished.  Considering that she was so beloved in the prison, and that the turnkey was her godfather, I wonder if she was really so deprived.  The turnkey was even going to leave her his property, but unfortunately died before doing so.

 

When you said that Amy Dorrit is often described as "little", it reminded me of something that struck me when I watched Part 1.  In the novel, during these early parts especially, she is always called "Little Dorrit" and hardly ever as "Amy", and yet in the series, she is introduced to Arthur as "Amy" and mostly called by that name.  I'm not sure that Arthur (or we) even learned her real name for a while.  Since she had been called "Amy" in the show up until that point, it seemed a bit incongruous when Arthur told Amy's uncle, when Arthur first visited the Marshalsea, that he had only heard her called "Little Dorrit" (which is what he says in the novel).  Up until then, I had not heard anybody call her that.

 

If you have not read the book, you might also be interested to know that the beginning scene about Mrs. Clennam and Flintwinch talking about Little Dorrit's coming to work and how she must never find out are not in the novel.  All we know is that when Arthur comes back to England, he finds her already working in his mother's house, and at that point there is nothing significant about it.  I'm about two thirds through the novel, and although Arthur has been suspicious that perhaps the Dorrits were somehow ruined because of his family (because of his father's last words to him implying that someone had been), there has been no proof of that so far.  So that first scene in the series does kind of cast a different light on the story than there is in the novel.

 

As to their ages, Little Dorrit is 22 at the start of the novel, and Arthur is 40.  Pet is 20.

Message Edited by dulcinea3 on 04-02-2009 10:52 AM
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Miss Wade & Tattycoram

I was finally able to finish watching the film Friday night.  After finishing the novel a couple of weeks ago I was reading some online articles about it.  One thing that completely went over my head as I read the novel was the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Miss Wade & Tattycoram.  However in some of the articles I read this was mentioned.  While watching the movie, Andrew Davies certainly seemed to have scripted this subplot to flow strongly along these lines.  There was Miss Wade kissing Tattycoram on the cheek at the end of their first meeting.  Later she seemed to be moving in to kiss Tattycoram on the lips, but the girl became frightened and pull away.  Mr. Davies seems to have turned the cool Miss Wade into a seductress.

Did anyone else sense this, or am I the only one?

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

I have to say that I love the music in this film.  The lovely piano pieces, the moody & evocative strings and the music played during Affery's "dream"which added to the mystery are all wonderful.

 

I have fallen in love with John Chivery, he is just adorable, so sweet in his adoration of Little Dorrit.

 

Maggie is endearing with her childlike innocence and forthrightness.

 

I must say that though I find Eddie Marsen's portrayal of Pancks dead on.  I miss his habit of pulling at his hair as he is now bald, perhaps he has already pulled it all out : )?  That characteristic behavior is so much a part of Pancks in the book that I was quite shocked when I saw him in the film.

 

I have to agree with dulcinea that Rigaud's nose is perfect.  However, I found him over the top and almost a parody of a villan.  In the book, Rigaud is referred to as somewhat handsome:

 

"The landlady, who had been at one moment thinking within herself that this was a handsome man, at another moment that this was an ill-looking man, observed the nose coming down and the moustache going up, and strongly inclined to the latter decision."

 

I'm not really happy with the casting of Andy Serkis as Rigaud.  He just doesn't have the right look and at this point I feel that his accent is annoying.

 

I also agree with Dulcinea regarding Flora.  I loved the scene where she and Arthur meet again.  Flora is perfectly cast and I look forward to seeing more of her.

 

It was really interesting to see Alun Armstrong playing Flintwinch, a character so dramaticly different from Dan'l Peggoty in DC, and bringing the character to life so very well.

 

I also found the casting of Affery just perfect.  I loved the scene where she runs back to her chair and throws her apron over her head.

 

So far, I am really enjoying this film.  I look forward to the next installment. 

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

I agree that some of the casting seems totally Dickensian.

 

I'm surprised by some of the little changes they have made from the book that don't seem to have much rhyme or reason.  For example, with Arthur comes home his mother is sitting on a black sofa.  Why they put her into her wheel chair at that point I don't know.  Also, the watch was sent on in advance, rather than delivered by Arthur.  I don't see that having him deliver it made more sense than having him see it on the table and comment on it.  I suppose they thought it was more dramatic, but it also set up a lightly different relationship between Arthur andhis parents than  I think Dickens had intended. 

 

These and many like them may seem to be minor changes, but I wonder why they were felt necessary.  

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

dulcinea3 wote"I thought that Flora was perfect, too.  And I liked the touch where they had Arthur imagining her as she looked when she was young and slender, just before she burst into the room.  It really provided the contrast.

 

It was, if I recall, pretty much straight out of the book.  Way to go, Charlie!  :smileywink:

 

Actually, both Austen and Dickens wrote books that seem to me, except for the length of Dickens, to be almost halfway to screenplays before you start.  

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Re: Miss Wade & Tattycoram


PhoebesMom wrote:

I was finally able to finish watching the film Friday night.  After finishing the novel a couple of weeks ago I was reading some online articles about it.  One thing that completely went over my head as I read the novel was the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Miss Wade & Tattycoram.  However in some of the articles I read this was mentioned.  While watching the movie, Andrew Davies certainly seemed to have scripted this subplot to flow strongly along these lines.  There was Miss Wade kissing Tattycoram on the cheek at the end of their first meeting.  Later she seemed to be moving in to kiss Tattycoram on the lips, but the girl became frightened and pull away.  Mr. Davies seems to have turned the cool Miss Wade into a seductress.

Did anyone else sense this, or am I the only one?


 

I thought that Miss Wade was a "madame", and that she wanted Tattycoram for prostitution, a sort-of high class prostitution or escorting service.  However, now I can see that perhaps it is a reference to a lesbian relationship. 

 

Even in the book, I did sense that Miss Wade was a dangerous, corrupting woman who actually wanted to use Tattycoram, similar to the way the Meegles are using her as a servant.  But I suppose that Charles Dickens could have viewed a lesbian relationship as threatening, perhaps as much as prostitution. 

 

So, I'm not sure, but I do think the issues around Miss Wade and Tattycoram have a hint of sexuality, as well as the idea that Tattycoram is being manipulated and used by everyone.

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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:

I agree that some of the casting seems totally Dickensian.

 

I'm surprised by some of the little changes they have made from the book that don't seem to have much rhyme or reason.  For example, with Arthur comes home his mother is sitting on a black sofa.  Why they put her into her wheel chair at that point I don't know.  Also, the watch was sent on in advance, rather than delivered by Arthur.  I don't see that having him deliver it made more sense than having him see it on the table and comment on it.  I suppose they thought it was more dramatic, but it also set up a lightly different relationship between Arthur andhis parents than  I think Dickens had intended. 

 

These and many like them may seem to be minor changes, but I wonder why they were felt necessary.  


 

We'll have screenwriter, Andrew Davies, with us the last week of the month, so these would be good matters to bring up with him then.
Message Edited by ConnieK on 04-06-2009 10:02 AM
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Re: Little Dorrit: The PBS Film (spoilers, ok)


Everyman wrote:

dulcinea3 wote"I thought that Flora was perfect, too.  And I liked the touch where they had Arthur imagining her as she looked when she was young and slender, just before she burst into the room.  It really provided the contrast.

 

It was, if I recall, pretty much straight out of the book.  Way to go, Charlie!  :smileywink:

 

Actually, both Austen and Dickens wrote books that seem to me, except for the length of Dickens, to be almost halfway to screenplays before you start.  


 

Actually, Arthur was thinking of his encounter with Mr. Pancks, who had just left, when Casby brought Flora into the room, not imagining Flora as she had been when he last saw her.

 

Calling these things to mind, and ranging Mr Pancks in a row with them, Arthur Clennam leaned this day to the opinion, without quite deciding on it, that the last of the Patriarchs was the drifting Booby aforesaid, with the one idea of keeping the bald part of his head highly polished: and that, much as an unwieldy ship in the Thames river may sometimes be seen heavily driving with the tide, broadside on, stern first, in its own way and in the way of everything else, though making a great show of navigation, when all of a sudden, a little coaly steam-tug will bear down upon it, take it in tow, and bustle off with it; similarly the cumbrous Patriarch had been taken in tow by the snorting Pancks, and was now following in the wake of that dingy little craft.

 

The return of Mr Casby with his daughter Flora, put an end to these meditations. Clennam's eyes no sooner fell upon the subject of his old passion than it shivered and broke to pieces.

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Re: Miss Wade & Tattycoram - possible spoilers


MaryE935 wrote:

PhoebesMom wrote:

I was finally able to finish watching the film Friday night.  After finishing the novel a couple of weeks ago I was reading some online articles about it.  One thing that completely went over my head as I read the novel was the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Miss Wade & Tattycoram.  However in some of the articles I read this was mentioned.  While watching the movie, Andrew Davies certainly seemed to have scripted this subplot to flow strongly along these lines.  There was Miss Wade kissing Tattycoram on the cheek at the end of their first meeting.  Later she seemed to be moving in to kiss Tattycoram on the lips, but the girl became frightened and pull away.  Mr. Davies seems to have turned the cool Miss Wade into a seductress.

Did anyone else sense this, or am I the only one?


 

I thought that Miss Wade was a "madame", and that she wanted Tattycoram for prostitution, a sort-of high class prostitution or escorting service.  However, now I can see that perhaps it is a reference to a lesbian relationship. 

 

Even in the book, I did sense that Miss Wade was a dangerous, corrupting woman who actually wanted to use Tattycoram, similar to the way the Meegles are using her as a servant.  But I suppose that Charles Dickens could have viewed a lesbian relationship as threatening, perhaps as much as prostitution. 

 

So, I'm not sure, but I do think the issues around Miss Wade and Tattycoram have a hint of sexuality, as well as the idea that Tattycoram is being manipulated and used by everyone.


 

In the novel, I also suspected at first, when Tattycoram ran away to Miss Wade, that Miss Wade might make a prostitute of her, and still suspected that when Mr. Meagles and Arthur found them in such a seedy house.

 

In the film, I did think that there was perhaps a hint of a lesbian attraction when they met by the church and it almost looked like they might kiss.

 

*** SPOILER ***

 

With that in mind, when later I read Miss Wade's account of her life, it did seem to me that her description of her relationship with the girl that was her 'favorite' might also have been based on a physical attraction.  I'm not sure I would have thought that without that hint in the film, but I might have anyway, from the way she described her love for the girl.  I also did not think that she was necessarily physically attracted to either of the young men that she became involved with.  I think that her attraction to the second (I won't give away who it was, even though I labeled this a spoiler) was more because of the attitude he had, that she probably mistakenly believed to be a sign that he understood her.  I don't think that she was attracted to the first in any way, really - there may be parallels with Fanny and Sparkler's relationship there.

 

Whether or not Miss Wade was a lesbian, though, I think that the real reason that she wanted Tattycoram was that she had led a solitary life because of her twisted idea of others' relationships towards her, and that she thought that she had finally found a companion who felt the same way.

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Re: Miss Wade & Tattycoram

Strange! When I read the book, I saw Miss Wade as a feminist activist who had been hurt in her own life and wanted to rescue other women from exploitative upper crust peoples and keep them from being used by males for any purpose whatsoever. She had a very twisted view of reality. I guess the producer did not think that would go over today, since she was such an unseemly character.

 

I would be very surprised if Dickens intended her to be a lesbian. I think she has slight similarities to Miss Haversham in Great Expectations and to Miss Murdstone and even Aunt Betsey in David Copperfield.


MaryE935 wrote:

PhoebesMom wrote:

I was finally able to finish watching the film Friday night.  After finishing the novel a couple of weeks ago I was reading some online articles about it.  One thing that completely went over my head as I read the novel was the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Miss Wade & Tattycoram.  However in some of the articles I read this was mentioned.  While watching the movie, Andrew Davies certainly seemed to have scripted this subplot to flow strongly along these lines.  There was Miss Wade kissing Tattycoram on the cheek at the end of their first meeting.  Later she seemed to be moving in to kiss Tattycoram on the lips, but the girl became frightened and pull away.  Mr. Davies seems to have turned the cool Miss Wade into a seductress.

Did anyone else sense this, or am I the only one?


 

I thought that Miss Wade was a "madame", and that she wanted Tattycoram for prostitution, a sort-of high class prostitution or escorting service.  However, now I can see that perhaps it is a reference to a lesbian relationship. 

 

Even in the book, I did sense that Miss Wade was a dangerous, corrupting woman who actually wanted to use Tattycoram, similar to the way the Meegles are using her as a servant.  But I suppose that Charles Dickens could have viewed a lesbian relationship as threatening, perhaps as much as prostitution. 

 

So, I'm not sure, but I do think the issues around Miss Wade and Tattycoram have a hint of sexuality, as well as the idea that Tattycoram is being manipulated and used by everyone.


 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton