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USA: New Line
UK: Pathe Distribution
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Jamie Foreman, Harry Eden, Leanne Rowe, Lewis Chase, Edward Hardwicke, Jeremy Swift, Mark Strong, Jake Curran, Ophelia Lovibond, Frances Cuka, Chris Overton, Michael Heath, Gillian Hanna, Teresa Churcher, Alun Armstrong, Patrick Godfrey, Ian McNeice, Richard Burden, Paul Brooke, Timothy Bateson, Andy Linden, Liz Smith, Andy De La Tour, Peter Copley, Richard Ridings, Frank Mills, Nick Stringer, John Nettleton, Anthony Noble, Andy Camm, Gerard Horan, Timothy Bateson, Laurie Athey, Filip Hes, Andreas Papadopoulos, Lizzy Le Quesne, John Early
Director: Roman Polanski
Countries: UK / Czech Republic / France / Italy
USA & UK: 130 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for disturbing images
UK Certificate: PG contains moderate violence and some scary moments (Before the formal submission of the film, the company was given advice that the strength of the beating delivered by Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman) to Nancy (Leanne Rowe) was unlikely to be acceptable at the PG category. The footage was reduced in strength in the version submitted for classification.)
USA Release Date: 30 September 2005 (Limited Release - wider)
USA Release Date: 23 September 2005 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 7 October 2005
Roman Polanski's new version of Charles Dickens' OLIVER TWIST is more of a children's story. Polanski and scriptwriter Ronald Harwood have retained the larger-than-life characters and the humour from the original novel and it remains a thrilling tale of good fighting against evil, packed with suspense, vitality and drama with a young boy at its centre. In the end, good triumphs in the face of great adversity....
Brought up in a pauper's Workhouse, orphan Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) and the rest of the boys are starving and cast lots to decide whom among them will ask for more gruel. Oliver is chosen. At supper that evening, after the normal allotment, Oliver advances to the Workhouse Master and asks for more.
Branded a troublemaker by Mr. Bumble (Jeremy Swift), the Workhouse beadle, and the Board, Oliver is offered as an apprentice to anyone willing to take him. After narrowly escaping being bound to a chimney sweep - a dangerous business where small boys are routinely smothered being lowered into chimneys - Oliver is apprenticed to the undertaker, Sowerberry (Michael Heath).
Oliver fights with Noah Claypole (Chris Overton), another of the undertaker's boys, after being provoked about his dead mother. Unjustly beaten for his offence, Oliver makes his escape and runs away to London. On the outskirts of the city, tired and hungry, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden) who offers him a place to stay in London. Naive of life in London's seedy underworld and unaware of their real trade, Oliver is thrown together with a band of boy pickpockets run by the sinister Fagin (Sir Ben Kingsley). He also meets the brutal Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman), his girlfriend Nancy (Leanne Rowe) and his dog Bull's Eye.
One morning Oliver innocently goes out with the Dodger and Charley Bates (Lewis Chase), another of Fagin's boys, and witnesses their real business when the Dodger picks the pocket of a gentleman, Mr. Brownlow (Edward Hardwicke). When Brownlow discovers the robbery in progress Oliver is mistaken for the culprit and, after a chase which comes to an end when he is felled by a hefty blow to the head, Oliver is caught and taken to the police.
While being questioned by the stern magistrate, Mr. Fang (Alun Armstrong), a witness proves Oliver's innocence and the kindly Brownlow takes him to his home to recuperate. His accuser becomes his benefactor and Oliver is treated well by Brownlow and his housekeeper Mrs.Bedwin (Frances Cuka). Meanwhile, Fagin and Bill Sykes are concerned that Oliver will betray them to the authorities and they are determined to track him down and bring him back to Fagin's lair.
Convinced of Oliver's honesty, Brownlow sends him on an errand to pay a local merchant five pounds and to return some books. But he is abducted by Sykes and Nancy in the street. Brownlow, thinking that Oliver has run away with his money, concludes that Oliver was a thief all along, as suspected by his friend Mr. Grimwig (Paul Brooke).
Back in the den of thieves, Oliver is tricked by Fagin to describe Brownlow's house and its valuable contents. Sykes and fellow criminal Toby Crackit (Mark Strong) force Oliver to accompany them on an armed robbery at Brownlow's house. They need a small boy to enter a window and open the front door for the housebreakers. The robbery is foiled when the household is alarmed and in the ensuing confusion, Oliver is shot. Bleeding badly with a bullet in his upper arm Oliver is carried away by Bill Sykes who has every intention of throwing him into the river. But it is Sykes who slips and falls into the fast-flowing water.
Toby takes Oliver back to Fagin's where he is nursed back to health. Bill Sykes struggles back to his place full of fever after his struggle in the river. He tells Fagin that they must get rid of Oliver or all their lives will be forfeit. A sympathetic Nancy, fearful for Oliver's life, makes contact with Brownlow and arranges to meet him beneath London Bridge. But Fagin has had Nancy followed and in a fit of rage Bill Sykes kills her. Nancy's friend Bet (Ophelia Lovibond) discovers the body and informs the police. The hunt is on for Bill Sykes.
Brownlow is concerned for Oliver's safety, even more so when he discovers that the police have tracked Sykes and Oliver to Toby Crackit's house in the London slums. As the police move in, Sykes, using Oliver as a shield, scampers over sloping roofs pursued by the police and a hostile crowd. Suddenly, distracted by his dog, Sykes slips and accidentally hangs himself...
Some time later, Oliver and Mr. Brownlow visit Fagin in Newgate prison where the thief-maker is rapidly losing his mind. Despite all that has happened, Oliver feels sympathy for the wretched man. Fighting tears, Oliver offers up a silent prayer before he and Brownlow leave on a coach travelling towards a rising sun and the promise of a bright new day.