Oliver Twist (1909)

Oliver Twist
R: J. Stuart Blackton. B: Charles Dickens (novel), Eugene Mullin. D: Edith Storey, William Humphrey, Elita Proctor Otis. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1909

“‘Oliver Twist’ was an immediate success as soon as it started serialization, at first, in monthly instalments in Bentley’s Miscellany. The novel was serialized, at uneven intervals, from February 1837 to April 1839. Evidence of ‘Oliver Twist’s success lies, for example, in the fact that the story was immediately transposed to the Theatre with several theatrical productions of it appearing at the time. This was a common practice at the time and Dickens’ stories seem to have appealed greatly to the appetite of these melodramatic theatrical producers. The same can be said in relation to film, with the first film adaptation of ‘Oliver Twist’ appearing as soon as 1909, by Vitagraph. The list of film adaptations of Oliver Twist, including TV series, animated films and films for the television, is quite long; the IMDb, for example, lists about 30 titles, ranging from 1906 to 2007. (…)
It is more or less obvious that the visuals of the several adaptations of ‘Oliver Twist’ are to be found, not only in the text, but also in other visual intertexts, namely, illustrations of the London streets or other pictures of the nineteenth century. In the 1909 adaptation, bearing the imprint of its time, when cinema was still very close to theatrical mise en scène, we can see very clearly the most important scenes of the novel as if they were ‘tableaux-vivants’, in scenes that are clearly evocative of the illustrations.”
Margarida Esteves Pereira (Universidade do Minho): Representing the Villain and the Hero in Film Adaptations of Oliver Twist

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