Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) parents guide

Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) Parent Guide

Overall B+

Director Roman Polanski depicts the darker elements of Charles Dickens' tale of a starving orphan who runs away to London, only to become entangled in a web of thieves. Beautifully shot and carefully executed, the film likely captures the true essence of the novel, but may prove too realistic for young viewers.

Release date September 22, 2005

Violence C
Sexual Content B+
Profanity B+
Substance Use C

Why is Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) PG-13 for disturbing images.

Parent Movie Review

Destitute orphans, deplorable workhouses and deviant masters are all subjects Charles Dickens seemed compelled to write about in his novels.

The context for his story of Oliver Twist is no different. Abandoned as a young child, Oliver (Barney Clark) has grown up in the harsh conditions of an English orphanage. Yet he has managed to become well mannered and gentle. On his tenth birthday, he is dutifully marched into the workhouse where he and countless other children pick apart ropes to be recycled for the sake of the glorious British Navy.

Starving from a lack of affection and food, he pleads with the kitchen staff for some more of the pitiful gruel the hungry children are fed. But his request is met only with sharp words and a swinging stick. Appalled by the boy's apparent impertinence, the portly administrators of the facility take leave of their opulent meal just long enough to sentence the boy to another form of hard employment.

Sent to work with a mortician (Michael Heath), Oliver is subjected to the ridicule and abuse of an older apprentice who is only too happy to have someone younger to bully around. After days of ill treatment, Oliver is fed up and steals away, heading for streets of London.

Once he reaches his destination, the new arrival is promptly befriended by a street urchin. Following the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden) through rat-infested alleys, Oliver is invited into an apartment where he meets a boisterous bunch of boys and their boss, Fagin (Ben Kingsley). Happy to welcome a new recruit, Fagin spends the next few days teaching Oliver the art of pick pocketing while the other boys smoke pipes, down liquor and play cards. However, there is something in the forsaken child that makes him hang back when it comes to actually carrying out the crime.

Set in the bleak surroundings of London's working class poor, the script follows Oliver as he tries to disengage himself from a life of unsolicited delinquency. Unfortunately Fagin and his partner Bill (Jamie Foreman) aren't eager to let the lad get away. Afraid he may squeal on them, they apply needless force, threatening Oliver with a loaded pistol and mercilessly beating to death another character who intervenes on the boy's behalf. Their shoddy treatment of the other homeless juveniles includes routine slaps and rough pushes. Yet even in these uninviting conditions, Oliver remains innately good.

While Roman Polanski's interpretation of Oliver is a sullen one, the film portrays well the appalling conditions of the menial workers who labored in the shadow of England's upper classes. For teens and older children, this tale may present an interesting twist to the grand images of life in London.

Starring Roman Polanski, Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark. Theatrical release September 22, 2005. Updated

Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s)
Rating & Content Info

Why is Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) rated PG-13? Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing images.

Not shying away from the darker elements of Charles Dickens’ novel, Roman Polanski’s film depicts the dangerous side of the den of thieves the young orphan falls into. Oliver faces constant verbal and physical threats, canings, bulling, and food depravation. Other characters are similarly treated. A sense of the boy’s peril is felt when he is forced to commit crimes against his will. An ugly, infected gunshot wound is seen, as well as the painful effects of treating it with alcohol. A murder takes place off screen, but blood splattering and pooling are depicted. A man dies of hanging and his lifeless body is shown. A character, facing the prospect of execution, is portrayed as losing his mind. A few mild profanities are used. Drinking and smoking are prevalent, even among the young boys Fagin exploits. Sexual content is limited to low-cut bodices on the dresses of female characters, and some background, non-explicit depictions of ladies of the night.

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Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) Parents' Guide

Oliver shows innate kindness and flawless manners. Where do you think he learned them? Are some people born with these kinds of intrinsic qualities? Would his upbringing in the orphanage have enhanced these traits?

How does Oliver influence those around him? Why are some people more receptive to his goodness than others?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski’s) movie is January 23, 2006. Here are some details…

Release Date: 24 January 2006

Learn how a classic novel gets turned into a motion picture with this DVD release. Bonus materials include: Twist by Polanski (a documentary from director Roman Polanski’s point of view), Kidding With Oliver Twist (the young stars share their experience while filming Oliver Twist) and The Best of Twist (a look at the sets, costumes, photography, editing and music of the film). Audio tracks are available in English and French (both Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English and French.

Related home video titles:

Charles Dickens’ classic tale has been adapted to the silver screen many times. Check out these versions: Oliver Twist (1997), the musical Oliver! and the animation Oliver & Company. Nicholas Nickleby another of the author’s narratives about England’s downtrodden, has also made it to the big screen.