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Musical movie versions of classic works of literature - Oliver! and Les Miserables


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Last night, I watched the fantastic musical Oliver! on TCM.  The musical numbers are so memorable and catchy (can't stop humming "Consider Yourself!"), the choreography amazing (some numbers tracking through the colorful, crowded streets of London) and the sets depicting England during that era beautifully designed.  Fagin's hideout amid the dark, wet, windy backstreets of London is so well done.  But is it true to the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens?  The novel is a lot grimmer.  Dickens wanted to show the cruelty of the poverty laws in England at that time that doomed innocent children to workhouses.  The movie includes parts of the plot but it is a good deal merrier.  When I was a child and saw this movie, Fagin's gang with all their singing and dancing and pick-pocketing games  looked fun.  In Dicken's novel, Oliver gets shot.  This is not in the movie.  Also,  Oliver is the central character in the movie while in the book, other characters are more prominent.  Dickens used Oliver Twist's innocence to contrast with the darkness of other characters.

I loved the film "Les Miserables".  I felt that it achieved a dark, emotional intensity that is important to Hugo's novel.  It is amazing that they made this novel work as a movie musical.  Fautine is one of the most tragic characters I've ever seen in a film.


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