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And Barney Clark, who was 11 when the film was made, is the right Oliver, a child more acted against than acting.Oliver Twist was Dickens' first proper novel, after the episodic Pickwick Papers.And even the mixed feelings of the Dodger (Harry Eden), who betrays Nancy to Bill and then has second thoughts and regrets.
Brownlow (Edward Hardwicke), and has become a young gentleman. Oliver asks to see Fagin, and Brownlow takes him to the old man's cell, where they find a pathetic, self-pitying ruin.
In the novel, Oliver asks Fagin to pray with him, and says, "Oh! " In the movie, he says that, and something more: "You were kind to me."For so Fagin was, after his fashion.
This is not Ye Olde London, but Ye Harrowing London, teeming with life and dispute.
The performances are more vivid and edgy than we might suspect; Kingsley's Fagin is infinitely more complex than in the usual versions.
That is why the next-to-final scene of the movie is so intriguing.
Oliver has been rescued by his benefactor, the kind bookseller Mr.It was Bill Sykes, the cruelest of all Dickens' villains, who meant him harm.In a movie that is generally faithful to Dickens, despite some smoothing out of the labyrinthine plot, Polanski's key change is to observe that Fagin does not simply exploit the boys; the old man and his pickpockets are struggling together to survive, according to the hard law that society has taught Fagin and he is teaching the boys.The pure goodness of the old country woman (Liz Smith) who pities and dotes on the child.The heroism of Nancy (Leanne Rowe), who risks her own life to save Oliver's.Polanski's version never identifies Fagin as Jewish and does not depict him as the usual evil exploiter of young boys.Exploiter, yes, but evil, no: It is likely, as Fagin observes, that he has saved his charges from far worse fates awaiting them in the cruel streets of London, and taught them the skills and cunning to survive.Oliver is about 10 when he is taken into the world of Fagin and his young pickpockets, and Polanski was 10 in 1943, when his parents were removed by the Nazis from the Krakow ghetto and he was left on his own, moving from one temporary haven to another in the city and the countryside.In the black market economy of wartime Poland, he would have met or seen people like Fagin, Bill Sykes, Nancy and the Artful Dodger, resorting to thievery and prostitution to survive.Jamie Foreman's Bill Sykes has a piggish, merciless self-regard.Leanne Rowe, as Nancy, becomes not a device of the plot but a resourceful young woman whose devotion to Bill is outlasted by her essential goodness.