Better a not-very-good David Copperfield than any Big Brother!

Yesterday night, Sunday 26 April 2009, about 9 p.m.

At last, I think, Italian TV has decided to improve its own standards! So I sit in front of the telly waiting for the new adaptation of Dickens’s DAVID COPPERFIELD largely advertised on Tv programmes, the press and the net. Well, I know I’m spoilt by my collection of BBC costume drama, since the British usually offer high quality products and very respectful-to- the- original - text film versions, but I was truly deeply disappointed by what I saw.
The two- part drama, directed by Ambrogio Lo Giudice, stars a bunch of Italian actors I didn’t mind in their previous performances: Giorgio Pasotti as David, Maya Sansa as Agnes, Stefano Dionisi as Mr Murdstone and Gian Marco Tognazzi as Huriah Heep. This time, instead, the latter is the only one I found faithfully Dickensean: his grotesque, exaggeratedly creep characterization was the only decent one. As for the others, their acting was rather shallow and not very accurate and, often, I hardly could perceive what they were saying.
Then, main reason for my disappointment, they rewrote Dickens! Why?!? It’s pointless, nonsensical! There were so many changes in the plot I think “loosely based on…” is not enough to justify them.
1. Traddles is David’s mate at Murdstone’s and Grinby’s
2. Mr Micawber first meeting with David is after he’s robbed at night while he is trying to get to Dover
3. Mr Micawber rescues David and brings him to his home
4. David lives in his house for just one night and the next morning leaves for Dover
5. David becomes a successful lawyer and works for Mr Wickfield (not for Mr Spenlow)
6. Mr Micawber is in debt to Mr Wickfield and David is sent to him to ask for the money he owes
7. David becomes Mr Micawber’s attorney in a trial and succeeds in helping him with his financial troubles.
8. Dora goes to Yarmouth , sent there by her father who wants her to marry Mr Murdstone and not to see David
9. David decides to join her there and travels with Agnes and Steerforth

Who read or studied the novel will have understood … No need to go on. Can someone help ME understand why it is necessary to change so much to propose a 19th century classic to nowadays audience? The universal values in the story are priceless and timeless, they are so well-conveyed by Dickens that they really needn't add any correction in the plot to attract the reality show generation.
I’ve seen so many TV adaptations and films based on classics, I sincerely must admit some devices can be useful to charm modern audience, but the text and its author must be respected. For instance, one of my favourite Victorian novels is Gaskell’s North and South, and , though I noticed the changes the 2004 BBC version applied to the text, I found the TV drama very successful in depicting Margaret and Thornton as well as the conflict between masters and workers in the cotton mill.
So, what can I suggest to Rai Fiction? Apply for a stage at British BBC on how to film a classic before shooting another one.

However, last night the first part of DAVID COPPERFIELD on Rai 1 was seen by 6,164,000 people, with a share of 26%, and I was among them. Tonight I’ll try to see the second part, but it’ll be hard to get to the end. I just want to see what else they invented. Anyhow, nonetheless, as incongruent / incoherent as it may sound, I really hope they can repeat their success with the second part …. I hope they will beat BIG BROTHER on Italian Channel 5. Better a not-very-good David Copperfield than any BIG BROTHER show!

Related posts

. As for good Tv drama, do you know what? My favourite BBC series will be back next autumn. The 8th season - as Americans would say - is being shooted in London just in these days. I'm talking about SPOOKS, the extremely well-made spy drama I told you about in a recent post of mine (HERE). So you see? I also appreciate modern drama.



Anonymous said...

I think that you should have sat down, relax and enjoyed the film, which in my modest opinion and that of my wife, was excellent. No film adaptation ever reflects the book from where the story is lifted in the first place and quite frankly it is probably just as well, as otherwise it would be just like reading the same book all over again. I think that the interpretaions were fairly good by all concerned, Heep was indeed particularly creepy, Agnes character was also very good. All in all a very good piece of work including costumes, sets and buildings. So well done RAI for the good work.
Max Beat

Maria Grazia said...

@Max Beat
Opinions different from mine are always welcome, especially if they are well discussed and kindly proposed.
Thanks for your contribution, Max.

Marianna said...

Cannot wait for Spooks series 8 too!! Autumn won't come soon enough for me :)

Maria Grazia said...

Hello there! So, let's start counting down to episode 1 series 8! Meanwhile we can rewatch the first 7 series. :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I liked very much Gian Marco Tognazzi as Huriah Heep and the actor that played Mr. Peggotty too.
I did really appreciate the costumes. They were well made and matched appropriately with the Victorian period.
BBC's quality is superior for sure, but I do hope this is only the beginning, that RAI will adapt many other english classics in the near future! And I do hope to be so lucky to see an italian adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" very soon!!

Maria Grazia said...

Yes, I do hope this is just the beginning of a new season for Rai Fiction. I'd like to see more and more classics on our TV.
Meanwhile...No one makes period dramas quite like the Beeb!
Thanks for passing by.

lunarossa said...

I did not watch Channel 5's adaptation of David Copperfield on purpose. I cannot stand the Italian translations of English novels, especially when they sometimes translate the character's first names! In spite of this, I'm glad that DC has replaced BB and hope people will keep on watching. To tell the truth I'd be devastated to see a Mr Darcy speaking Italian, but if this is the price for spreading Jane Austen's work to Italya as well, welcome to him too! Can't wait for Spooks 8 either, although I'm still mourning Adam's loss...All the best. Ciao. A.

Maria Grazia said...

Well... I was sorry for Rupert Penry-Jones's defection but he had been Adam for ... let's see... more than 3 series: he substituted Matthew MacFadyen from episode 3 series 3, then went on all through series 4-5-6. I must admit I was so happy of Lucas's return from Russia I couldn't mourn Adam properly. Joking. But true!
After watching him in North and South, Mr Thornton/ Richard Armitage has become my favourite British gentleman. His northern accent and his deep voice, his being dark haired with green/blue eyes ... Better to stop. I'm usually less silly than this!!! Thanks for dropping by.

lunarossa said...

Hi Maria Grazia, Have you ever watched RA in the BBC series "Robin Hood"? It's on at the moment. He plays Sir Guy of Gisborne, Lieutenent and cousin to the Sheriff of Nottingham. He plays a baddy but he' still quite dashing. It's my daughter's favourite programme at the moment. Ciao. A.

Maria Grazia said...

I must admit I've seen - and also rewatched -series 1 and 2of Robin Hood on DVD. I found RA extraordinarily good in tranforming himself in such a terrible baddie. He seems so kind in the interviews I saw, it must be a real effort to frown and shout all the time! I Know Robin Hood 3 is on, but I've only seen episode 3 when I was in London and some clips on Youtube. Guy is so guilt-ridden and haunted in the first 2 episodes! Well, you see, I'm definitely fond of ... let's say ... BBC drama. :)Till very soon,A.