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David Copperfield

Critique Text At the movies

David Copperfield serialSerial, 1849
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Original title
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger, of Blunderstone Rookery

Also known as
The Personal History of David Copperfield

First publication
18491850 in instalments

First book publication
1850 in two volumes

Literature form

Literary, buildungsroman, autobiographical novel

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 357,000 words

david copperfield
David Copperfield is humiliated by the schoolmaster in 2000 film.

The Americanization of Dickens

David Copperfield (2000): Television miniseries, three episodes, 180 miunutes; director Peter Medak; writer John Goldsmith; featuring Hugh Dancy, Sally Field, Michael Richards

If you cry during the 2000 American TV version of David Copperfield, it may be for reasons unintended by Dickens.

david copperfield 2000
Sally Field and Hugh Dancy.

Filmed in Ireland and a similar length to the great British mini-series of the previous year, this one is not nearly as successful in reimagining Dickens's world.

It focuses more on the second half of the novel, on the grownup David recalling his abuse as a boy at the hands of Murdstone. British actor Hugh Dancy is quite good as an appropriately romantic adult David. One wishes he he had been in the 1999 series as the grownup Copperfield.

But the two American stars, Sally Field and Michael Richards (of Seinfeld fame), really chew up the scenery.

Field doesn't quite nail the Aunt Betsey role, coming across as a silly country hick, calling "DonkEEEES" like Minnie Pearl with a bad English accent. Richards, of Seinfeld fame, is a stumbling, buffoonish Mr. Micawber, far from the dogged, dignified failure of the novel.

The script also takes great liberties with the source material's narrative, replacing many of Dickens's subplots with new ones of the screenwriter's fancy, such as making stepfather Murdstone an ongoing villain of the piece instead of being vanquished in the early going—turning this film into what might be called David Copperfield's Revenge.

Trailer for 2000 film of David Copperfield.

Nonetheless, this is an honest attempt to bring new life to the story with sincere direction and high production values. A number of scenes actually do work well, making the film entertaining in its own fashion.

Passable for Dickens fans, if you cannot lay your hands on the real thing.

— Eric


Critique Text At the movies

1935, 1999, 2000

See also:

Jane Eyre

Madame Bovary

The Woman in White

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David Copperfield

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