A Parent’s Guide to Oliver Twist (2007)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Oliver Twist (2007) by Coky Giedroyc (Director)

Type: Classics

Basic Plot: Tired of being abused and mocked, Oliver Twist runs away from his home to find a new life, which turns out being much harder and more complicated then he thought.


Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: There were several disappointing things about the plot, though I will say, all in all, these things were well put together. To start, the plot does follow certain main ideas, though certain characters were understandably cut from the very extensive plot. There was also a good balance or humor and drama, something that is commonly seen in Charles Dicken’s novels, even if it wasn’t done in exact same way the book shows it. Certain things were changed that made the story more interesting, but sadly, this leads to some of its major errors. To start, Charles Dickens mastered suspense, something the series does half-heartedly as it reveals too much too soon. I am not against change in adaptions so much as long as their is a good reason, but a lot of the changes were to create cheap suspense that the original story, if followed, probably would have provided on its own. Besides this, characters were very… out of character at times, with Rose being an emotional, sassy mess; the Grandfather stupid; Fagin sympathetic; and Sikes charming. These all deviate from the original portrayals of the characters, making the story come across as weaker and at times even awkward or weird.

Acting: 4/5 Well Done: Though the characterization wasn’t the greatest, the actors and actresses themselves did a good job doing what they were supposed to do. Those I did not like the way the characters were portrayed, however

Costumes and Scenery: 3½/5 Well Done: Costumes and scenery not only were accurate, but fit the circumstances. They tend to be dark and dreary when Oliver around wicked people and lighten up when he is kinder ones. This contrast helps create a good atmosphere.

Music: 3½/5 Average: The music was a mixture of medieval and rock, which if done right could have been tolerable or even somewhat pleasant, but it just came off as weird in my opinion.

Moral: 1/5 No Clear Moral: Because of the plot changes, the series killed the original moral. The original morals of the story were to avoid bad company, because bad comapny will eventually destroy you, as well as to always do right no matter how bad things get. Because most of the villains were made much more sympathetic, the moral was destroyed. There are slight traces of it, as one character faces huge guilt when he murders someone, and Oliver does want to do good. Consequences are made to look like tragedy rather than something the villains deserved though, and Oliver is a lot more like a passive victim than someone who does his best to be good.

Overall: 3½/5 Average: This wasn’t the worst TV series I have ever seen, but it was disappointing in some ways. I understand not everything needs to be exactly like the books and that everyone has personal character interpretations, but there are still key things about that must be done in an adaption if the adaption is to stay true to the spirit of the original. I just think the creators failed to do that.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2½/5 Suggestive Content: A man and woman flirt, him calling her a “ripe plum.” A man hugs a woman and kisses her nose. At one point, she presses his hand to her “heart” while intentionally putting it on her breast. She mentions in a list of things about her life, that her bed is cold, and in a response list, one of the things he mentions is that he will keep it warm. A man hugs and touches the hair and face of a woman against her will. Some of the dresses are low. A woman has a son out of wedlock. A boy calls a boy’s mother “a poxy doxy” (which is a mistress) and says she “lifts her skirt for a few pennies.” A man says a woman is a prostitute and that she cannot be trusted, though she is a good person and her activities are never shown or mentioned outside of that one mention. A dog bites a man’s bottom, and a running person accidentally steps on a man’s private area. A little boy is shirtless. A woman lies that she needs to buy special woman’s clothing to keep a man from following her. A boy farts in another boys face, and a joke is made about butts.

Violence: 3/5 Moderate Violence: A man chokes another man but does not kill him. A man kicks another man. It is implied that a man beat a woman over the head, resulting in her death. All it shows is him grabbing her by the hair. A man kicks a dog. Children are beaten off screen, and on screen are slapped. A boy punches at a man but does not hit him. A man hangs himself, and another is hung. A boy is knocked out with a punch. A character is hit on the head. A boy is shot. A woman punches a man. A woman kicks a man twice for comedy purposes. A man chokes another man in a half serious, half humorous manner. Also for comedy, a dog bites a man, and a man is stepped on.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1/5 Brief, Light Cursing: God’s name is taken in vain once. A man says “bleeding” twice. God’s name is taken in vain twice. A man is called “Jew” in a derogatory manner at times. “Bastard” is used once properly.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3½/5 Dramatic Content and Domestic Abuse: Though not shown, a man beats his girlfriend to death. Her dead body is shown with blood pooling around it. A man commits suicide because he regrets a decision. Oliver Twist grows up in a physically abusive environment where the children are beaten for making little mistakes or doing anything wrong. All that is seen of any hung man is his dangling feet. Characters die onscreen. Foaming at the mouth and eyes rolling are mentioned. A man threatens to kill two people if they do not do as he says. A woman gives a boy a knife and tells him to stab anyone who comes to him. He tries to do so but fails. A man pays for a boy to be murdered but fails. A man tells a boy he will die by hanging one day, and a child is nearly sentenced to death by hanging. A boy faints and another deliberately knocked out. A boy lies in bed for days because he was shot. A boy says dead people come back to life with worms in their eyes, and he comes to a boy at night to try to scare him. A man threatens to hurt and kill people. Characters cry. In speech, in mentions a woman coughed blood, but she is accused of having cut her arm. A child has bruises and stripes on his back. Characters bleed and/or have blood on them. A little boy has a black eye. A woman says she knows she is dying, and another says we all will. Violence is mentioned in speech. Rotting remains are mentioned. A man makes coffins for a living. Forms of death and things relating to pain and illness are used for descriptive purposes, as well as lacking a head and graves.

Religious Issues: 2/5 Diverse Religions and Misuse of Christianity: A character is Jewish and called “Jew.” He has a menorah and wears a kippah. At one part in the movie, he is before a court and told his life will only be spared if he prays to Jesus Christ and is told to give up the Jewish God (which is the same as the Christian one). He refuses. After a man murders a woman, he sees her everywhere and hears her talking and singing. He begs a boy to sing a hymn, hoping it will chase her away, which it doesn’t. “Devil,” “haunted,” “hypnotized” is used for descriptive purposes.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Characters drink alcohol. Gin is mentioned in speech and drinking in general, a woman even saying she drank earlier. Cards are mentioned in speech. Rock music with drums and electric guitars is played in the background. Some men have long hair. “Dance” is used for descriptive purposes, and dancing is mentioned in speech.

Overall: 2½/5 Older Child Appropriate: Know your child well before letting them watch this. There is domestic abuse, suicide, and sensual flirting amid the drama and humor that I probably wouldn’t let my child see if they were younger than twelve or thirteen.


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