Many of Dickens’ stories were originally published in magazines with a new chapter every week. He specialised in creating suspense so that people wanted to read the next chapter. Maybe this is why his stories make such good films and TV series.

In the year 2000 however, an American adaptation of the novel was shown on TV which left the critics divided. Sometimes a very beautiful film, with perfect costumes, and colours is too beautiful and too perfect for the difficult story it’s trying to tell. This was the first criticism.

Dickens’ stories are long and complex which is one of the reasons they’re often better suited to a TV series in episodes than a 2 hour long film. This version cut many of the scenes which Copperfield ‘fans’ consider essential and even invented new ones – something which is usually considered unacceptable. Another choice which didn’t convince viewers was that of American actors who were unable to maintain a British accent throughout the film.

Basically, although much of the TV film was appreciated, the final verdict was that you ‘can’t be creative with the classics’. Dickens wrote it the way it should be and if you want to adapt it he is the expert.

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Illustration by Paolo D’Altan, taken from ​David Copperfield, by ​Charles Dickens​, Green Apple, Step Two (CEFR A2/B1)