Released to coincide with the BBC transmission of Andrew Bleak House Davies’ new adaptation of Dickens’ great political novel, Christine Edzard’s low-budget 1987 beauty is an intimate six-hour epic split in two halves. The first focuses on the unloved Arthur Clennam (Derek Jacobi, the epitome of unfulfilled middle-aged decency), while the second chronicles the fortunes of the tireless and sensitive titular seamstress (Sarah Pickering, perfect), born in a debtors’ prison. Their lives intertwine against a sadly still topical yet also satirically observed backdrop of poverty and financial crisis.
Floating atop Edzard’s tellingly detailed script is a raft of priceless character turns from the likes of Cyril Cusack, Max Wall, Miriam Margolyes, Eleanor Bron and many others. Joan Greenwood is devastating as Arthur’s embittered paralytic mother, but the crowning glory is Alec Guinness as Dorrit pere, a complex figure of unforgettably distressed comic dignity. An undersung British classic well worth the investment of time. Extras include trailer, photo gallery and cast interviews.