Little Dorrit (1988)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Oct 21, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 360 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Seldom does a film harmonize cinematography, performances, and script as skillfully as this highly acclaimed 1988 adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit. The movie is a two-part, six-hour drama centering on the fate of the bankrupt Dorrit family living in a debtor's prison at Marshalsea across the Thames River from central London. Director Christine Edzard, the daughter of two painters, turns London into a canvas of gloomy grays and sullen shadows to suggest the plight of the main characters. Appropriately, the dismal setting contrasts markedly with the cheer and optimism of the title character, Little Amy Dorrit, played superbly by Sarah Pickering as a ray of light emanating from the darkness. As Arthur,Derek Jacobi masterly undergirds the first half of the film, revealing little touches of humanity and sensitivity that Dickens felt were necessary to redeem corrupt and cruel Victorian England. In the second half, the venerable Sir Alec Guinness (as Amy's father, William Dorrit) uses the extraordinary subtlety of his acting talent to show how sudden freedom and fortune change Mr. Dorrit into a callous parvenu bent on rising in society. Director Edzard, who also wrote the script, is faithful to the plot of the Dickens novel. What's more, her backdrops and costumes are historically accurate, having been thoroughly researched and duplicated. Remarkably, she made the movie on a small budget through Sands Films, a company she and her husband operate. In so doing, she demonstrates that a good story and well-developed characters have far more appeal than glitzy budget-busters weighted down with special effects.