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Oliver Twist (2005 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist (2005 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoman Polanski
Screenplay byRonald Harwood
Based onOliver Twist
by Charles Dickens
Produced by
CinematographyPaweł Edelman
Edited byHervé de Luze
Music byRachel Portman
Distributed by
Release date
  • 11 September 2005 (2005-09-11) (TIFF)
  • 23 September 2005 (2005-09-23) (United States)
  • 7 October 2005 (2005-10-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Italy
Budget$60 million[2]
Box office$42.6 million[2]

Oliver Twist is a 2005 drama film directed by Roman Polanski. The screenplay by Ronald Harwood adapts Charles Dickens's 1838 novel of the same name. It is an international co-production of the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, France and Italy.

The film premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2005 before going into limited release in the United States on 23 September. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics, but was a commercial failure.


In the 19th century, an orphan boy, known only as Oliver Twist, is born in an English workhouse and moved to the Parish farm. On his ninth birthday, he is brought to the workhouse, where he and the resident children are mistreated and malnourished. The boys single Oliver out to request more food at the next meal, which he does. This results in Oliver being punished, then offered. He is sent to coffin-maker Mr. Sowerberry, whose wife and senior apprentice, Noah Claypole take an instant dislike to the newcomer. After a violent confrontation with the elder apprentice Noah, and a subsequent beating for calling Mrs. Sowerberry a liar, Oliver, knowing his life there will only worsen more, escapes the place the next day.

A week later, he arrives in London, barefoot and penniless, and meets Jack Dawkins, or "The Artful Dodger", a young thief who brings Oliver home to Saffron Hill, which he shares with other teenage pickpockets and their eccentric elderly leader, Fagin. Soon, Oliver is being groomed to join their gang. On his first outing with the pickpockets, Oliver is falsely accused of theft, but is proven innocent by an eyewitness. The victim, the wealthy Mr Brownlow, takes pity. Believing that Oliver is innocent, Brownlow informally adopts him, giving him fresh new clothes and the promise of a good education.

While out running an errand, Oliver is returned forcibly to the pickpockets by Fagin's associate, the wicked William "Bill" Sikes, and Sikes' moll, a young prostitute named Nancy. Fagin and Sikes worry that Oliver would snitch, and tell the authorities about their criminal activity. Oliver is put under supervision until Sikes discovers the boy's connection to the rich Brownlow. At midnight, Sikes and his accomplice, who is also a friend of Fagin, Toby Crackit, force Oliver to aid them in robbing Brownlow's house. They are discovered and Oliver is wounded in a brief shootout between Brownlow and Sikes. As they flee, Sikes decides to murder Oliver to ensure his silence, but falls into a nearby river.

Sikes survives, but is confined to bed with a heavy fever. Fagin, despite treating Oliver kindly, remains crime-focused and plots with Sikes to kill the boy once Sikes recovers. Nancy has developed a maternal fondness for Oliver; she drugs Sikes, and goes to Brownlow's house to arrange a midnight meeting on London Bridge so she can provide information about Oliver. There, Nancy cautiously reveals that Oliver is staying with Fagin, and that the authorities will easily find them. Brownlow leaves to call the police. Dodger, sent by a suspicious Fagin to spy on Nancy, overhears everything and is bullied by Sikes to tell. Sikes, furious at Nancy's betrayal, murders her.

The next day, information about Oliver and Fagin appear in the newspaper, along with Nancy's murder and that Sikes is a suspect. Sikes' ever-present dog, Bullseye, is a dead giveaway to his identity. After an unsuccessful attempt to kill the dog, Sikes takes up residence with Crackit. Fagin, Oliver and the boys are hiding there too, after escaping their previous location. Bullseye escapes his master's cruelty, and leads a group of police and locals to the hideout. Dodger, outraged at Sikes for killing the good-hearted Nancy, reveals their location to the authorities, and cries for help. Sikes takes Oliver onto the roof, knowing that they won't shoot if the boy is with him. When trying to scale the building using a rope, Sikes, distracted by Bullseye, accidentally hangs himself.

Some time later, Oliver is living comfortably with Brownlow again. Fagin has been arrested for his actions, and Oliver wishes to visit him in jail. Brownlow takes him to the prison, where they find Fagin ranting and wailing in his cell. Oliver laments his relationship with the criminal but leaves. As Brownlow escorts a tearful Oliver to their carriage, gallows are being set up in the courtyard. Townspeople gather to watch the preparation of Fagin's execution, while Brownlow and Oliver depart to start their new lives afresh in the city.



In Twist by Polanski, a bonus feature on the DVD release of the film, Roman Polanski discusses his decision to make yet another screen adaptation of the Dickens novel. He realized nearly forty years had passed since Oliver Twist had been adapted for a feature film and felt it was time for a new version. Screenwriter Ronald Harwood, with whom he had collaborated on The Pianist, welcomed the opportunity to work on the first Dickens project in his career.

For authenticity, all scenes featuring pickpocket skills were choreographed by stage pickpocket James Freedman and magician Martyn Rowland.

The film was shot in Prague, Beroun, and Žatec in the Czech Republic.

Polanski and Harwood entirely omitted the Maylie family from their film. Like the musical, but unlike Lean, they also omitted the villain Monks, as well as the entire subplot of a conspiracy to defraud Oliver of the inheritance money that his father left him. Oliver now has no origin, but is an anonymous orphan like other children in Fagin's gang. (See more here.) To fill up the gap left by the absence of Monks and the Maylies, the film creates a subplot wherein Fagin's intentions toward Oliver become murderous and he plots with Sikes to actually kill the boy, which is not part of the novel's plot.


The film received mixed to positive reviews, holding a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 143 reviews, averaging 6.3/10. The consensus reads 'Polanski's version of Dickens' classic won't have audiences asking for more because while polished and directed with skill, the movie's a very impersonal experience.'[3] Metacritic assigned a score of 65, indicating 'generally favorable reviews.'[4]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called it a "bracingly old-fashioned" film that "does not embalm its source with fussy reverence" but "rediscovers its true and enduring vitality." He added, "the look of the movie... is consistent with its interpretation of Dickens's worldview, which could be plenty grim but which never succumbed to despair. There is just enough light, enough grace, enough beauty, to penetrate the gloom and suggest the possibility of redemption. The script... is at once efficient and ornate, capturing Dickens's narrative dexterity and his ear for the idioms of English speech."[5]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was similarly positive; he lauded the film as "visually exact and detailed without being too picturesque."[6] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised it as a "grounded and unusually matter-of-fact adaptation," continuing, "Polanski does justice to Dickens' moral universe, in which the motives and worldview of even the worst people are made comprehensible."[7]

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly graded the film B+ and commented, "On the face of it, Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist is in the tradition of every faithful Oliver Twist ever filmed – a photogenic, straightforward, CliffsNotes staging of Charles Dickens' harrowing story... Yet precisely because this is by Roman Polanski, it's irresistible to read his sorrowful and seemingly classical take, from a filmmaker known as much for the schisms in his personal history as for the lurches in his work, as something much more personal and poignant."[8]

However, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone rated two out of four stars, calling it "drab and unfeeling" while "lacking the Polanski stamp." He further felt Barney Clark's performance as Oliver was "bereft of personality."[9] Todd McCarthy of Variety echoed Travers' sentiments about Clark, labelling him "disappointingly wan and unengaging," while writing that the film was "conventional, straightforward" and "a respectable literary adaptation, but [lacking] dramatic urgency and intriguing undercurrents."[10]

In the UK press, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian opined that while "[Polanski's] Oliver Twist does not flag or lose its way and is always watchable, the book's original power and force have not been rediscovered."[11] Philip French of The Observer wrote that the film was "generally disappointing, though by no means badly acted," and alleged that it lacked "any serious point of view about individuality, society, community."[12]

DVD release

Sony Pictures released the film on DVD on 24 January 2006. It is in anamorphic widescreen format with audio tracks and subtitles in English and French. Bonus features include Twist by Polanski, in which the director reflects on the making of the film; The Best of Twist, which includes interviews with production designer Allan Starski, costume designer Anna B. Sheppard, cinematographer Paweł Edelman, editor Hervé de Luze, and composer Rachel Portman; and Kidding with Oliver Twist, which focuses on the young actors in the cast.


  1. ^ "OLIVER TWIST (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 3 August 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Oliver Twist (2005) – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  3. ^ Rotten Tomatoes (2012). "Oliver Twist (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Oliver Twist". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  5. ^ A.O. Scott (23 September 2005). "Dickensian Deprivations Delivered From the Gut". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  6. ^ ROGER EBERT (30 September 2005). "OLIVER TWIST (PG-13)". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  7. ^ Mick LeSalle (30 September 2005). "Polanski refuses to twist Dickens into tearjerker". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  8. ^ Lisa Schwarzbaum (21 September 2005). "Oliver Twist (2005)". Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Oliver Twist". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (7 October 2005). "Oliver Twist".
  12. ^ French, Philip (9 October 2005). "Oliver Twist".

External links

This page was last edited on 16 October 2021, at 22:38
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