Some Dickens novels I read first, then check out the movies, but some I watch first so I can have a picture in my mind of the characters and places, and then enjoy the nuances and details of Dickens' depiction. This one I've watched several times without reading the novel yet, and it's one of my favorites ever. Tom Wilkinson narrates Dickens' semi-autobiographical tale (an "exaggerated" and "edited" version of his life, we could call it), Daniel Ratcliffe plays the young David, Bob Hoskins as Mr. Macawber, Maggie Smith as Betsy Trotwood...what's not to like? And the rest of the characters and settings are just right too.
As a Christian, the icing on the cake for me is Dickens' propensity for illustrating God's sovereign providence, even over evil acts and persons, which causes "all things to work together for good." Some critics have said too many coincidences come together in Dickens to be believable, but I believe like he did that it happens all the time, though we may not see it from our limited vantage point. The fictional narrator is able to see it, however, so we can too as we watch the events unfold through his eyes.
An example is the terrific scene where Miss Trotwood tells off Mr. Murdstone and his sister, saving David from a fate worse than death. She can "peg" the abusive husband because she endured one herself in the past, and she has the passion and resolve to stand up to him for the same reason. The hand of providence used her past misfortune to insure a bright future for David, and provide a greater measure of redemption and meaning for her own life as well.
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