Monday, October 12, 2009

BBC's Little Dorrit - 1

Some people are so good to their dysfunctional  families it does my head in, like Little Amy Dorrit from a perversely enjoyable adaption of Dickens' novel recommended by RAFanBlog. It's a parable stretched into a delicious saga packed to bursting with colourful characters, vivid imagery and weighty themes. Imprisonment, money, respect, family and self-sacrifice all get their turn.

Amy Dorrit was born and raised in the Marshalsea, a debtor's prison where her father has spent over 20 years. She's a tiny young woman with the thankless role of caring for her fretful insecure father and selfish older siblings. Amy finds seamstress work with Mrs Clennam, a harsh puritanical old woman I'd call the mother of hellfire .

Mrs Clennam's middle-aged son Arthur Clennam returns, or rather escapes from the family business in China. He brings a mysterious watch given by his dying father, and his intriguing last words which imply their family has committed some wrongdoing. His mother coldly refuses to divulge anything, but the son begins to suspect his family is in some way involved in the misfortunes of the Dorrits.

So many characters - there are still some left out

Ok, boring stuff over. For those of you who have seen the show, have a go at naming all the characters in the above two images. Go on! I challenge you to do it in under 60 seconds! Then, see if you can name all the characters MISSING from the above two images. I can name 14 missing characters.

As you can see this show seethes with so many quirky characters you might struggle to remember them all. First time viewing I got impatient because I was busting to find out about the mysterious watch and didn't want the confusion of so many other plot strands. The watch even contains a bit of cloth that says "do not forget" on it, urging everyone of it's plot importance so how could I forget it? However with the second viewing you can sit back, have fun with all the amusing caricatures and trinkets and see the events unfold in light of the revelations from the final episode.

If you're like me and are too shallow to subject yourself to depressing slums, bleak childhoods and squalid poverty, never fear. Despite its serious themes and wholesome main characters Little Dorrit doesn't always take itself seriously. It's rather whimsical in its tone thanks to the writhing mess of comical and sometimes over-the-top secondary characters balancing out the gloomy London scenes. I can even imagine it being remade for kids as an animated movie series. "Each week collect one of the 37 Little Dorrit toy figures with your purchase of a Happy Meal! This week it's Mr Tite Barnacle." Yes, that's an actual name. I'd be in plastic toy heaven. Stay tuned for more. I'm doing this Dorrit style, episodic!


bZirk said...

You sure you're up to a Dickens review? :D Just wading through his writing wears me out.

I swear Dickens thought if a little's good then a lot's better.

Avalon said...

I have this movie in my Netflix queue right after I finish He knew he was right.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

I'm so excited you're doing a "Little Dorrit" review. :)
You're right- SO MANY characters... and 14 are missing from above!? Then again, I only watched the whole thing once. I better watch it again.
I just watched "Cranford" a 2 days ago and loved it. (Another episode style BBC period film.) I think I liked it even better than LD. Have you seen it?

Haylie said...

I adore "Little Dorrit," especially Matthew MacFadyen. There are so many weirdly wonderful characters-- it's like a circus. There's some weird hair going on in that movie, wouldn't you say?

Nat's right- "Cranford" is great. I saw it last month & loved it to pieces. I just mentioned it in a post on my blog, as a matter of fact!

Oh so many lovely British men-- sigh.

Starheart said...

Bzirk, this Little Dorrit review is freaking me out so that's why it's episodic! You know, i tried to read the book after having seen it, but couldn't get past the first page. There was this long meandering description of goodness knows what. Dare i say, like Robert Jordan.

Nat, Pyper, haven't seen Cranford, though wanted to. It screened recently here but darn it i missed the first episode! As for LD yeah, total circus, but in a good way. Funny you should mention hair. My fav character has NO hair. The wackiest hair award goes to Mrs Merdle. Rather parrot or roosterish.