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The Dark Side Of Oliver Twist

1524 words - 7 pages

“There is just enough light, enough grace, enough beauty, to penetrate the gloom and suggest the possibility of redemption” (A. O. Scott 1-2). This is the intention that Roman Polanski had when he crafted his 2005 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. But for there to be only a glimpse of light, it has to be surrounded by darkness, which is exactly what Polanski has done. In his essay, “Oliver Twist,” George Gissing stated that “the novelist’s first duty is to make us see what he has seen himself, whether with the actual eye or with that of imagination” (Gissing 18). This was originally written about Dickens, however, it is very much applicable to Polanski’s film. Roman Polanski was a ...view middle of the document...

Brownlow’s house, which indirectly eliminated Oliver’s long stay with the Maylie’s.
Now, there could be several reason why Polanski might have decided to do this. First, he might have looked at it from a cinematographer’s standpoint. Perhaps Polanski wanted the film to have a forward motion to it, instead of dwelling of Oliver’s birth, as well as avoiding adding several scenes. Likewise, if Polanski’s film were to have followed the Maylie’s subplot, not only would the movie have become longer then it already was, but only way to capture the months Oliver spent with the Maylie’s is through a montage of some sort, which might have disrupted the flow that Polanski was looking for. However, film critic, Gareth Jenkins, has a different idea. Jenkins states that Polanski, “cut the worst of the sentimental and melodramatic elements to create a much tauter, more compelling plot-line” (Jenkins 1). Without all of Dickens’ sentimentality, the audience loses the generosity and kindness that the Maylie’s bring to Oliver’s life, which allows them to focus more on the darker events that plague Oliver’s existence.
However, Jenkins asserts the consequences of these omissions. Dickens’ wrote this book to challenge the Victorian thought that the poor are born inherently bad; however, Dickens weakens this message by making Oliver inherently good because of his unknown noble familial beginnings. Jenkins argues Dickens implied that it is because of Oliver’s “genteel origins” that make him a saintlike figure and save him from being corrupted by the criminal company he keeps, and if the mystery of Oliver’s family are taken out, it undermines the reasoning for his constant purity. (Jenkins 1). This aspect not as much makes the film darker, but rather calls into question Oliver’s character and his unnatural affinity for goodness.Perhaps this is the Oliver that Dickens wanted to create, but could not because of how it might have been received at the time.
Polanski is master at employing cinematic effects in order to capture the dark mood that encapsulates this film. He makes it darker by, ironically, containing the darkness and horror, which only makes it more horrifying (Rainer 2). For example, when Nancy is murdered, Polanski only shows a pool of blood on the ground, which is more powerful and suspenseful than showing a literal depiction of her murder (Movie?). Polanski also subtly darkens the story by filming from perspective of Oliver. Pawel Edelman, the director of photography for Polanski’s Oliver Twist, stated that Polanski “wanted the film to be ‘bigger than life.’ This [idea] applied to sets, costumes, makeup, lighting, lenses, [and] everything. The idea was to exaggerate a world shown from a boy’s perspective” (Benjamin 2).
Polanski’s idea of an exaggerated viewpoint of a young boy was quite evident in the cinematography and camerawork. In Benjamin B’s article, American Cinematographer: Oliver Twist, he states that Polanski switches between a objective,...

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