I Thought It Would Be Better
K. Giorlando | Eastpointe, Michigan United States | 10/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I never saw this when originally played on television back in the '70's. If I did, I'm sure my memory would have given me doubts in purchasing this multi-DVD set.
It begins pretty much on the right track, showing Charles Dickens as a young boy with his father and their "adventures" together. Much of the concentration tends to be on his father as much as on Charles, almost in a comedic way, showing the influence he had on his son.
It is pretty much right on, giving us a glimpse of the early life of this Victorian author, including his unfortunate occupation in a blacking factory. No child labor laws here!
Next we see Charles as a young man, beginning his career as a writer. It shows us how he met his future wife, Catherine Hogarth, his obsessive love toward his sister-in-law, who, sadly, dies before the age of twenty, the strange relationship he and Kate had, and, if true, his own - dare I say it - anal personality. Yes, he did not come off as the nicest of people. Throughout these middle episodes we see Mr. Dickens' behavior continue to become rather eccentric, and not necessarily in a good way. He grows to be, at least in my eyes, an unlikable person, one who can snap at any moment; one who does not treat his wife nor his friends in an agreeable manner. (Although Kate comes off as a bit of a winer. Then again, he did marry her and not her sister, right?). This also shows the famous author as a womanizer, an unfortunate truth. And, according to this, much of his flirting was thrown directly into Kate's face. If this is true, she deserved to be a winer. I am assuming here that this is correct, seeing that the Charles Dickens Museum folk gave their support for this project.
Then this biography takes some odd twists and turns, especially devoting a complete (wasted) episode on a bizarre encounter with Edgar Allen Poe, and another, well, WASTED episode where he does magic tricks. A bit of editing could have put both of these encounters onto one episode.
The series, as a biography, ends a bit quicker than expected in that, for his earlier novels such as The Old Curiosity Shop or the Pickwick Papers, more time is spent than, say, Martin Chuzzlewit. And the fact that the importance of Chuzzlewit selling poorly was imperative to the writing of "A Christmas Carol" was barely touched upon.
And that's where the series ends, except for another wasted episode called 'Memories,' the very last of the series. Why was this last episode, which harkens back to young boy Charles, even made? Except for showing the death of his father, it's useless as a biography.
It's these wasted episodes, which, for taking up so much of our time, had little bearing on his life, that anger me. I would have rather had the drama show the complete reason in his writing "Carol" and the after effects it had rather than the three wasted episodes I mentioned.
All in all, this is OK to watch once, but not worthy of your hard-earned cash in a purchase."
"Dickens Of London (1976) ... Charles Dickens ... Koch Visio
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 08/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Koch Vision present "DICKENS OF LONDON" (Released: September 28, 1976) (720 mins/Color) (Dolby Digital) --- Under Michael Ferguson (Director), Marc Miller (Director / Producer), Wolf Mankowitz (Screenwriter), David Cunliffe (Executive Producer) --- Originally aired in 1976 on PBS, the lavish ten episode mini-series follows the fascinating life of Charles Dickens, foremost novelist of the Victorian era who produced some of the most memorable writings in the English language including "A Christmas Carol," "A Tale of Two Cities," "Oliver Twist," "David Copperfield," "Great Expectations" and more --- The critically-lauded series was filmed on location in London and stars multiple oscar nominated Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, Schindler's List), Roy Doltrice (Amadeus, The Scarlett Letter) and Vernon Dobtcheff (M. Butterfly, The Name of the Rose) --- KOCH Vision's collectible DVD set includes all ten, hour-long episodes of the series, as well as a bonus disc featuring a recreation of Dicken's legendary public performance of "A Christmas Carol," starring celebrated actor Simon Callow (Phantom of the Opera, Shakespeare in Love).
the cast includes
Roy Dotrice ... Charles Dickens/John Dickens
Simon Bell ... Charles Dickens (Boy)
Gene Foad ... Charles Dickens (Young Man)
Diana Coupland ... Mrs. Catherine Dickens
Ben Kingsley ... Dr. John Elliotson
Patsy Kensit ... Catherine Hogarth/Dickens
Lois Baxter ... Mary Hogarth
Hetty Baynes ... Fanny Dickens as a woman
John Breslin ... Lawyer
Adrienne Burgess ... Catherine Hogarth/Dickens
Karen Dotrice ... Maria Beadnell
Richard Leech ... Mr. Hogarth
Samuel Matthews ... Edgar Allen Poe
Christine McKenna ... Georgiana Hogarth
Pheona McLellan ... Fanny Dickens as a child
John Slater ... Mr. Tribe
Disc One -- Dickens of London
Episode 1: "Mask"
Episode 2: "The Deed"
Episode 3: "Blacking"
Episode 4: "Love"
Disc Two -- Dickens of London
Episode 5: "Success"
Episode 6: "Fame"
Episode 7: "Money"
Disc Three -- Dickens of London
Episode 8: "Possession"
Episode 9: "Dreams"
Episode 10: "Magic"
Disc Four -- Dickens of London
Episode 11: "Nightmare"
Episode 12: "Angel"
Episode 13: "Memories"
Disc Five -- An Audience With Charles Dickens (actor Simon Callow)
"A Christmas Carol" Part 1
"A Christmas Carol" Part 2
1. Charles Dickens
Date of Birth: 7 February 1812 - Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, UK
Date of Death: 9 June 1870 - Gad's Hill, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
Charles John Huffam Dickens, pen-name "Boz", was the foremost English novelist of the Victorian era, as well as a vigorous social campaigner --- Considered one of the English language's greatest writers, he was acclaimed for his rich storytelling and memorable characters, and achieved massive worldwide popularity in his lifetime --- championed his mastery of prose, his endless invention of memorable characters and his powerful social sensibilities --- Dickens worked for sentimentality, implausible occurrence and grotesque characters while capturing the essence of the people and their time --- The popularity of Dickens' novels and short stories has meant that not one has ever gone out of print. Dickens wrote serialised novels, the usual format for fiction at the time, and each new part of his stories was eagerly anticipated by the reading public - (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
1. The Pickwick Papers (Monthly serial, April 1836 to November 1837)
2. The Adventures of Oliver Twist (Monthly serial in Bentley's Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)
3. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Monthly serial, April 1838 to October 1839)
4. The Old Curiosity Shop (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, April 25, 1840, to February 6, 1841)
5. Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, February 13, 184l, to November 27, 1841)
6. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (Monthly serial, January 1843 to July 1844)
7. Dombey and Son (Monthly serial, October 1846 to April 1848)
8. David Copperfield (Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)
9. Bleak House (Monthly serial, March 1852 to September 1853)
10.Hard Times: For These Times (Weekly serial in Household Words, April 1, 1854, to August 12, 1854)
11.Little Dorrit (Monthly serial, December 1855 to June 1857)
12.A Tale of Two Cities (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, April 30, 1859, to November 26, 1859)
13.Great Expectations (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, December 1, 1860 to August 3, 1861)
14.Our Mutual Friend (Monthly serial, May 1864 to November 1865)
15.No Thoroughfare (1867) (with Wilkie Collins)
16.The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Monthly serial, April 1870 to September 1870. Only six of twelve planned numbers completed)
17.The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices (1890)
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS::
1. A Christmas Carol (1843)
2. The Chimes (1844)
3. The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
4. The Battle of Life (1846)
5. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848)
Great job by Koch Vision --- looking forward to more high quality titles from the BBC Collection film market --- order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Vision where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- where they are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector.
Total Time: 720 mins on DVD ~ Koch Vision ~ (8/14/2007)"
A terrific series that can provide some context for reading
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 10/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Dickens remains a powerful force and a wonderful treasure in English letters. While he is not read as much as he once was and certainly deserves more attention in our schools, there is no reason for you to not treat yourself to his wonderful multifaceted genius. I think that the vast difference in our 21st Century American culture is so different than his pre-Victorian England (particularly London) that some readers can't find an easy way into his works. This wonderful 13 part mini-series from 1976 can provide a help in understanding something of that time and place and in the ways that Dickens used his own life in his writing.
This series is not a straight biography of Dickens. We meet the mature Dickens on one of his profitable and sensational American tours. His experiences in American cause him to think back on his life and we experience portions of his biography in these flashbacks. The script is quite faithful to the events depicted in these looks backward into the author's life. Obviously, the writers had to make choices between debatable events and they filled in some gaps with fictions that captured the time and some possibilities in Dickens' life that also show up in his writing. The mature Dickens that is on the American tour is made up as a narrative device and captures the flavor of what Dickens experienced as a celebrity in mid-19th Century America, but the people and events are fictions to setup the flashbacks and expose the character and talents of Dickens in his maturity.
The way this story is presented shows us his complicated domestic life without ever getting explicit. The period of his life when he separated from Catherine is completely left out. I guess the ability to pick and choose among events is an advantage of the flashback as a narrative device.
The actors in his series are superb. Roy Dotrice needs to be singled out for playing the mature Charles Dickens and Dickens the man in his flashbacks. He also does the hat trick as Charles' father, John. Charles Dickens had a complicated relationship with his parents. This series chooses to focus on his improvident father, John, who was a Naval clerk and always spent more than he made. While he is depicted here as an inebriate and that this was the source of the family suffering, there is less evidence in real life of why he was always getting himself so deeply in debt. Some have suggested gambling, which is briefly touched on here. There is no doubt that, on the whole, people drank alcoholic beverages much more then than we do now. John is such a critical character because Charles used him so often in his works, Wilkins Micawber in "David Copperfield" being the most well known. Dotrice can be very proud of his accomplishments in this series and I think you will find the way he characterizes the three characters memorable and impressive. His daughter, Karen Dotrice, plays Dickens' first infatuation, Mary Beadnell in a delightfully frivolous manner.
The boy Charles is played with moving vulnerability by Simon Bell, and as a young man by Gene Foad. Foad portrays the young Dickens in full ego of a young genius who is becoming aware of his powers and trying to find his own way in the world. A terrific piece of acting. Lois Baxter plays Mary Hogarth, the middle of the Hogarth daughters and the one person with whom Dickens seems to have been able to share work with. She died suddenly and seventeen and Dickens wore her ring on his little finger the rest of his life. Christine McKenna also does a fine job as Georgina Hogarth, the youngest of the Hogarth daughters who also came to live with them at the request of Catherine to help run the household after 1842. The real life companionship Dickens developed with Ellen Ternan is not touched on in this series.
Some have criticized the fantasy episode with Edgar Allen Poe (effectively done by Samuel Matthews). This event never happened, but is there to show the way such mysterious pseudo-science was taken seriously by so many people at that time. Even the episode with the young Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Elliotson (who did exist) shows that Dickens was introduced to mesmerism and took it seriously. He did use it on his family and was considered fairly skilled at it. I took these as efforts by the writers to capture the times as much as the life of Dickens. After all, how literally can you depict the life of a fabulist like Dickens and still remain true to the man? If you merely depict the events that we have documented evidence for the real Dickens will have escaped.
Yes, the way the English filmed such series in the 1970s looks a bit liked a taped stage production to us, but it did not bother me in the least. I loved everything about this series and recommend it to you very strongly.
The package also as a full performance of the way Dickens presented his "A Christmas Carol" on his tours. Simon Callow does a fine job, but I think his presentation is probably a bit more formal than Dickens himself might have done. I think Dotrice's presentation of a tiny portion of this in the series is more appealing and likely. Callow's seems, somehow, a bit Victorian and Dickens was not, in my view, in any sense like the late Victorian cliché we seem to suppose they were. But this is trivial. Callow is terrific and it is a treat to experience such a 19th Century entertainment. The audience is even in full period dress.
This series is a wonderful experience that can help you and your children get ready to dig into the actual Dickens more deeply. I encourage you enjoy both the series and the actual writing of Dickens.