Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Little Dorrit

Over a couple of weeks, my mom, my sister, and I watched Little Dorrit. We started to watch it one evening and next thing we knew it was 12:30 p.m. We wanted to keep watching, but it was late. It kept us all interested: here are my thoughts.


William Dorrit is imprisoned in the Marshalsea for debt. His daughter, Amy (also known as Little Dorrit) (played by Claire Foy), lives with him in prison and goes out to support him secretly because of his pride. Amy gets a job doing needlework for Mrs. Clennam whose husband and son are overseas in China. When Mrs. Clennam's son Arthur (Matthew Macfayden) returns from China, he brings word that his father has died and that his dying wish was to correct a wrong. Arthur notices that Amy is working for his mother, and learns that her father is imprisoned in the Marshalsea for numerous debts. He suspects that his family might have something to do with this, and he tries to right the suspected wrong.


BBC does another great job with selecting a great cast. There were recognizable actors and actresses in Little Dorrit: Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago (1965)), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), Matthew Macfayden (Pride and Prejudice (2005)), James Fleet (Sense and Sensibility (1995)), and other actors that you may recognize.

I thought that Claire Foy played Amy Dorrit quite well. Amy Dorrit is supposed to be around 21 years old, but she's supposed to look like a child, and Claire Foy pulled it off well. Her face was freckled to make her appear young which worked really well for the role. She also acted the part well: Amy is meek, quiet, and hard working, and it showed in this adaptation.

Andy Serkis, who many would recognize as Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, plays the escaped convict Rigaud. I've got to say, that whenever he appeared on the screen, my mom, my sister, and I were like "Oh no! What's going to happen next!?" There was always something that followed that man. I won't give any spoilers, but let's just say he made the story all the more interesting.


Multiple characters from Little Dorrit from different
classes and ages. Notice differences in dress between the
classes and the dark, London setting.
I did not mind the scenery, but there is a concern that I have. The Marshalsea is supposed to be a big, dirty prison in very poor conditions, but when I was watching it, it didn't seem that bad. It didn't look too dirty, and sure the prison rooms could use some renovation and maybe a scrub down to get rid of the dust, but it didn't seem like it was really bad. It seemed like the only inconvenience was that it was a prison and that you couldn't leave. I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to stay in a place like that, but for a prison in the ninteenth century, I guess I pictured it a lot dirtier.

There was used of dark overtones for the scenes in London, which seemed appropriate. **Spoiler** The first half of the series takes place in London before William Dorrit found out about his fortune, when life was harder for the Dorrits. **End of Spoiler** Also at Mrs. Clennam's home, dark overtones were used to show that there were dark secrets there. Bright colors were used for the scenes in Italy, which featured very nice architecture. I liked the brighter colors and the scenery there better than the dark overtones in London.


Amy Dorrit in her usual dress,
cloak, and apron.
I did like the costumes in this miniseries. Little Dorrit takes place around 1826, which is in between two eras: the Regency era (which ended at about 1820) and the Victorian era (which started in the 1830s). Both Regency era dresses and 1820's fashion were used in this miniseries. Generally speaking, the Regency dresses were worn either by the poorer women or by older women (i.e. Mrs. Clennam, who was very old in the story). This would make sense because most likely poorer women were handed down clothes that were still good; these "hand-me-downs" would be outdated clothes from the Regency era considering that when the story takes place, the Regency era did not end that long ago. Mrs. Clennam, being both old and infirm, probably did not get a chance to go out and buy the latest fashions, so she probably found her current dresses to be suitable. The 1820's dresses were worn mostly by the rich who could afford to go out and buy the latest fashions or could have dresses made for them.

My personal preference: I preferred the poorer clothes to the richer clothes. It could be because I love Regency era clothing, or because I don't particularly care for the large sleeves of the later 1820's fashions, or because I liked the simplicity of the clothes. To me, some of the richer clothes seemed gaudy and outlandish to me. But again, that's my personal opinion.

Overall: 4/5
I really like this miniseries. I liked that the plot was very interesting and that all of the subplots came together nicely at the end. The cast acted very well, and the costumes were very nice. But there are a couple of things that you should be warned about. There is some violence, a scene with blood (only one scene that can be fast-forwarded through), and a questionable scene that, while it is not explicit, it is still a little disturbing; I will say that the scene is short, so you could even fast-forward through that too. Other than those three things, this miniseries is very good and interesting. It definitely keeps you guessing and holds your attention throughout.

Little Dorrit is made up of fourteen episodes (two hour long and twelve half hour long). The entire miniseries is 452 minutes long and can be bought on DVD at Amazon.


  1. Phew! That's really long! Not that I mind long movies (take Emma and P&P for example{-;), but wow. We saw a pre-view for this on Emma, and I think it's on our Netflix queue, so hopefully we'll get to watch it soon. (-: Thanks for the post...I'd been wondering how good it really was!

  2. You're welcome. It's really good and interesting.

  3. Oh yes...brings back memories. ;) Okay, now I want to watch it. Really want to watch it. It sounds great! Matthew MacFayden and Gollum are in it? Eek! ;) Again, enjoyed the review!

  4. I will say that Matthew MacFayden was actually good in Little Dorrit. I only saw clips of the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice that he was in and from what I saw I did not like it; he was NOT Mr. Darcy. But he was good in Little Dorrit. You will also notice that John and Fanny Dashwood from the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility are in here (though not married to each other).

  5. Elegance of Fashion: Well, I DEFINITELY agree with you that Matthew MacFayden was the most terrible Mr. Darcy I can imagine. Honestly! When he attempts to say "Not handsome enough to tempt me" he totally butchers it. Totally. Absolutely. Especially compared to Colin Firth. :P

    Oh interesting, John and Fanny too! It would be interesting to see them in another movie.

    I think I may have a gift for long comments...;)

  6. Oh, I looked it up, now I know who he was. I didn't even recognize him before!!

  7. Oh, he's soo much better on Little Dorrit. Like, way better. And since I liked his acting so well on there, I wonder if it wasn't entirely his fault he didn't make a good Mr. Darcy. It probably had a lot to do with the script, and the people who made the movie probably told him to be...that way that's er...not like Mr. Darcy.

    By the way, I'll hopefully be doing a review soon, like you suggested, Charity.

    I think I have that gift, too. >.<

  8. Melody, I'm glad you say he's better in there! Maybe it was just the producers' fault, but I still think that surely he could have done better. I don't know.

    Looking forward to that review! :)

  9. Well, I'm gald you believe me. Hmm, yes, it might not be ALL the movie maker's fault, I'm just saying it might not have been ALL the actor's fault, either. :)

    I did the review! :) (If you see this comment before you see the post!)

  10. My younger sister, brother, and I watched the first two episodes last night and I really enjoyed it! I wanted to read a review, though, so I'd know if there was any scenes we might need to skip. Your review really helped! Thanks!

    P.S. I'm really enjoying your blog :D

  11. Hayden,
    There is that one scene in Episode 2 that you might want to skip. There's also the first minute or so in the last episode that you might want to skip. The rest isn't too bad.
    Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog!

  12. I and my daughter watched the first 5 episodes, but there were a few 'd*mns' strewn about, the scene with the Frenchman grabbing the barmaid in a particular spot, the Frenchman carousing with her on the bed, and then Tattie and the other woman (forgot her name) who nearly kiss. It was enough for me personally to decide not to watch it in its' entirety, but I told my daughter I would find out if there was anything in the last episode that I might need to fast-forward so that she can watch the ending. Would that be the first minute or so that you mention? Thank you so much! Your site is very helpful.

    1. Jill,
      From what I remember (it's been a while since I've seen Little Dorrit), the other major questionable thing was the last minute of the second to last episode and the first couple of minutes of the last episode. It involves a man taking his own life (the actual act is not shown, but the aftermath is): there was quite a lot of blood in that scene from what I remember. If you skip that part, you should be okay.


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