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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Nicholas Nickleby
Nicholas Nickleby
Newsnight Review discussed the latest Dickens film adaptation, Nicholas Nickleby.

KIRSTY WARK:
Germaine, did any of the darkness of this Dickens translate to the scene apart from the sets?

GERMAINE GREER:
I don't think... I'm not so sure about the sets. I found the sets sometimes very tricky and quite obtrusive. One of the odd things about going to see it was that I realised the children are coming along to see it and their mothers were bringing them along because it was Dickens and it would be good for them and that is what it is. It's taken Dickens sentimentality and moralism and not anything else beside. You see the relationships without sex, you have Smike and Nicholas and that is not meant to be a homosexual attachment, even though Smike is a disabled stalker. And you have got the noble girls who were keeping themselves pure because they know that they want to have a proper monogamous married life. At the end you have a sermon about family building, don't worry children if your family are not quite right because you can make a family out of leftovers and it will be fine. This time I had my finger down my throat.

KIRSTY WARK:
You had your fingers pressed to your eyes and your throat!

JAMES BROWN:
I thought the sets were great and you go to London and look at the pigs' heads and ducks' heads, it was revolting. As Germaine said, the main character and the guy who played Smike, the kid from Billy Elliot, they were so healthy and looked like they walked straight out of Pop Idol! It was like Dickens light. The worst bit was when Nickleby and Smike were two tramps sitting by star-light looking into each other's eyes, on what would have been a windy and harsh Yorkshire Moor. That bit made me want to puke as well. Apart from that the acting of the character acting was fantastic and Timothy Spall was brilliant. I would look forward to seeing it at Christmas because of that.

KIRSTY WARK:
Let's have a look at the some of the finer characters in Nicholas Nickleby. Of course, Alan Cumming is in his element because he likes to dress up. Two of the best relationships were Christopher Plummer and Tom Courtenay.

CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH:
They were both extremely good. I'm embarrassed to say I rather enjoyed it, it's good Friday entertainment. Providing you don't think of it in relation to Dickens, but as an extract based on Dickens in an extremely loose way, I think it's perfectly acceptable and rather beautifully filmed in some parts and some of the character acting was good. I would be happy to watch it at Christmas.

GERMAINE GREER:
All kinds of English films have wonderful cameo parts played by very skilled interpreters, it would be astonishing if they didn't have that in this film. It is also astonishing they do have Barry Humphries in it, in two parts. It's not fair to the subtlety and depth of the rest of the representations. I bet the actors had actually read more of the Dickens than, in some ways, the cinematographers had. They actually produced the depth that Cherable brothers are wonderful. They are terrific. My favourite is Juliet Stevenson, she is just so revolting!

CHARLES SUAMAREZ SMITH:
Nicholas Nickleby himself, I thought, was very weak.

GERMAINE GREER:
Dire. Dire.

JAMES BROWN:
There was one good thing about him being poncy, when he was violent it was genuinely surprising.

CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH:
He wasn't violent. He took his top off.

KIRSTY WARK:
Well.



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