Sometime pretty soon the BBC will air its new production of Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, a book about enduring, patient love as well as an angry satire on the debtors' prisons of the time and, one of this author's enduring themes, the hells of bureaucracy (here epitomized by the Circumlocution Office of the British government).
Although, based on past experience of BBC adaptations of classic novels, I have every reason to believe the new version (scripted, inevitably, by Andrew Davies) will be excellent, I discovered recently that the long-lost 1987 pair of films of the book are finally about to be available on DVD. (27 October, apparently.) These two films were made on a shoestring budget by Christine Edzard. I saw them both at the cinema when they were released, and they are wonderful. In one of them, the actress Patricia Hayes (now, sadly, deceased) was sitting behind me and my sister in the cinema. At the end, she graciously accepted the accolades of the audience as we drifted out into the modern world. Although the budget limitations of these films are fairly obvious, the quality of the adaptation, the acting and the empathy with the original novel shine thorough. Famously there was no location shooting, so the films have a painterly, theatrical atmosphere. It will be interesting to compare the two versions. The book, of course, is marvellous. I'm not sure if it is my favourite Dickens (I am very partial to Our Mutual Friend) but it is pretty close to it.
IMDB on the 1987 version. (Cast includes Derek Jacobi and Alec Guinness.)
IMDB on the 2008 version. (Cast includes Matthew Macfadyen and Andy Serkis)