All Women's Talk

7 Awesome Adaptations of Charles Dickens' Novels ...

By Lauren

I love his works so it follows that I would love adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels. For much of the world, their view of the life and times of Victorian England comes from this master’s pen. He captured the social structure, the harshness, malaise, and doom and gloom that was the lot of the ordinary man. Miserable and depressing, he also managed to find light where there was dark, and hope where there had been none. I hope you find his stories magical as they come to life in these adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels.

1 Oliver!

On iTunes at:

This is hands down my favorite among the many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels – and probably the world’s too. Oliver! is an outstanding musical with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. The story of Oliver Twist, an orphan caught up in the seediest side of Victorian London, becomes a fairytale with songs like "Consider Yourself," "Food, Glorious Food," "I’d Do Anything," and my personal fave, "Who Will Buy."

2 A Tale of Two Cities

On iTunes at:

I personally think it’s about time Hollywood picked this up to make a blockbuster version of this novel. Dickens didn’t often stray from Victorian England for his amazing stories, but in A Tale of Two Cities he ventures to Revolutionary France for a bloodthirsty story of lawlessness, law, and love. There are a few versions of this story but I’ve picked the 1958 movie starring a mainly British cast.


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3 The Muppet Christmas Carol

On iTunes at:

Does a great story get lost because it’s done by The Muppets? Of course not. The thing about adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels is that no matter how bad the movie/TV show, the story shines through, because Dickens was an incredible storyteller. While the crazy puppets do their stuff, Michael Caine puts in a great performance as the bitter old miser who finds redemption on Christmas Eve.

4 Bleak House

On iTunes at:

Andrew Davies is amazing. His adaptations of Dickens’ novels are among his best works, which includes the stunning BBC series of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. (Check out his writing credits here – – you’ll be stunned and impressed!) Bleak House is typical Dickens’ fare – gloom, depression, grime, and hopelessness in Victorian England. The story centers on the legal case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce. I know none of this sounds exciting and enticing, but I advise you to try it. Watch each episode right after one another because each cliffhanger ending will leave you wanting more.

5 David Copperfield

On iTunes at:

The names may not mean very much to us these days, but back when this was made, the cast was definitely “all-star,” and we’re talking huge stars of their day – W.C. Fields, Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, and Maureen O’Sullivan to name a few. MGM spared no expense with transforming a masterpiece of literature to celluloid (no digital in 1935!). It is a wonderful adaptation and worthy of the great writer himself.

6 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

On iTunes at:

We go back to 1982 and to yet another of the BBC's most excellent adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels, for what in my opinion is the best version of Nicholas Nickleby. Roger Rees was an unknown newcomer when he was picked for the title role. The cast and production are actually the effort of the Royal Shakespeare Company, so you know you’re in for something special when you watch the story of yet another young man who seeks his fortune in London and tries to right social injustices.

7 Great Expectations

On iTunes at:

Of all the Dickens’ novels, Great Expectations is probably the most timeless. It is a coming-of-age-novel that any generation can appreciate wherein Pip, a humble orphan, is suddenly raised to the rank of gentleman thanks to an unknown benefactor. I’ve chosen the David Lean version rather than the numerous modern adaptations. Lean was a master of direction and there’s something about older movies that lends them that more authentic Victorian air.

Over to you now! I’d love to hear what you think of Dickens. Have you read any of his books? Do you think movies do them justice?

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