29 September 2002 | philip-1
A triumph in bringing a classic to life!
This latest version of Dickens's wonderful Nicholas Nickleby is yet another in a line of excellent BBC produced dramatizations of classics; something Hollywood rarely if ever does these days because "art" doesn't sell! All I can say is "Thank God for television!"
Everything about this adaptation speaks of excellence. The casting in particular is a joy. James D'Arcy is the finest Nicholas on screen. He is a "Candide"-like figure; total believable and you want to root for him just as Dickens wanted his readers to sympathize with the protagonist. Charles Dance is equally effective as Nicholas's villainous uncle. But it doesn't end with the two leads. Every single character (and there are a lot of them) is cast perfectly and totally believable from a physical standpoint; from the lowest street people to the wealthy upper class. There's not a dud in the lot! The casting director should be knighted!
The direction is fluid and unflinching as it examines the seedier sides of the story. Pairing down the story to three hours is done with excellent comprehension. Those parts of the story missing are inevitably not missed for a dramatic presentation. The art direction is exquisite throughout. Costumes, sets and locations are brilliantly handled.
I'll also take exception to those who prefer the Royal Shakespeare version. That production was a noble effort to bring the story to the live theater and in many respects it was original and excellent. It suffers, however, from a forced stage theatricality inherent in such projects and simply gets bogged down with too much detail. The result is way too long. The new version sacrifices some length for clarity and precision story telling and has better casting in every role.
I have no hesitation in finding the entire production to be delightful; and by all means go out and buy it. Contrary to some other remarks, you will enjoy immensely.