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Posted November 09, 2010 to photo album "Father-Daughter Movies"
Inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, resident film historian David Parkinson looks back over the history of films that focus on father-daughter relationships.
Slide 8: The Dickensian Father - Little Dorrit (1988)
Originally published in 19 instalments between December 1855 and June 1857, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit is a sprawling story exposing the inadequacies of Victorian Britain, particularly its antiquated penal system, the iniquities of class division, the inefficiencies of government bureaucracy and the impossibility of family unity. Yet while playwright George Bernard Shaw could call the book a “masterpiece among many masterpieces,” it was castigated by less enthusiastic critics, who felt it backed up George Orwell's contention that Dickens's writing combined “rotten architecture and wonderful gargoyles.” In bringing Dickens's 11th novel to the screen for the fourth time, writer-director Christine Edzard divided the narrative into two parts, “Nobody's Fault” and “Little Dorrit's Story,” and her Oscar-nominated screenplay went some way to rectifying the weaknesses in the original structure. Her re-ordering of events enables viewers to get to know the characters before they become embroiled in the drama and this allows them to sample the contrasting atmospheres of the Marshalsea debtors prison, the grindingly poor hovels of Bleeding Heart Yard, the oppressively gloomy residence of businessman Arthur Clennam and his scheming mother, and the soul-destroying corridors of the Circumlocution Office. Moreover, it refocused attention on to the relationship between Amy (Sarah Pickering) and William Dorrit (Alec Guinness). But while Pickering ably captured Little Dorrit's sense of dutiful virtue, Guinness gave a scene-stealing display of shabby grandiosity and brazen duplicity that rightly earned him an Oscar nomination for a third Dickensian masterclass to set alongside his Herbert Pocket and Fagin in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948).