Welcome to Charles Dickens On Screen, a blog dedicated to documenting and discussing audio-visual productions that relate in any way to Charles Dickens. And yes, I know, the term audio-visual is now considered obsolete or at best archaic. Nevertheless, I have always liked it, still do, and particularly like the way that it embraces all of the various media that have been employed over the years – ranging from the magic lantern to the internet – when adapting Dickens’s works.
And while it is fair to say that this blog will attempt to examine and reflect what might be termed the larger context of Dickens’s role in our popular culture, its primary focus will be on film and television productions. Hence the name, Charles Dickens On Screen. And while it will undoubtedly pass through the inevitable “work in progress” phase, I hope that it will eventually include the most complete, detailed and up to date information possible. I also look forward to sharing a few thoughts and opinions, passing on information, and, as is the case with this initial posting, occasionally breaking a bit of news that should be of interest to Dickensians everywhere.
I also hope that this blog’s overall style and tone will be as casual, friendly and conversational as possible. And in this regard, it will be wonderful to have a forum in which no one can tell me that I can’t start a sentence with the word and.
To briefly introduce myself, I have been a major film buff, and a major Dickens buff, for longer than I care to remember. And I have always considered the occasion on which I first perceived an intersection between those two worlds to be one of the truly pivotal moments in my life. In this regard, I have a vague recollection that my introduction to Dickens came at age eight or nine through seeing MGM’s 1935 version of David Copperfield on television; and just as equally vague impressions were forming that there were discernible differences between films made by, say, Warner Brothers and Universal, it soon became apparent that films based on books by Charles Dickens were something very special indeed.
And it may be that I saw it over the Christmas holiday, or the fact that a medley of Christmas songs played as the opening credits rolled, but I am also fairly certain that this viewing of David Copperfield was where I first connected Dickens with Christmas.
In any event, I should perhaps mention here that in passing on this little bit of autobiography, I am actually plagiarizing myself. It comes from the introduction to a book of mine that was published in 2000 by McFarland entitled A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: Dickens’s Story on Screen and Television. Nevertheless, while it may not be original, it is still absolutely true.
I should also perhaps mention that, somewhere along the line, I realized that it was possible to make a living doing “something with film.” And in this regard, I have been privileged to teach film studies – albeit just as a lowly adjunct – at some wonderful institutions, most notably Connecticut College and Quinnipiac University. I have never taught a Dickens related course, however I hope that someday I may be given an opportunity to do so.
Anyway… I was thrilled and honored (and more than a little bit stunned) that my book was very well received. And to this day, I still cannot quite believe that one of my idols, the great Edward Wagenknecht, actually contributed a foreword. I guess all I can say is that I learned that at least one famous old saying is perfectly true: The bigger they are, the nicer they are.
Once the book was “out there,” for several years I enjoyed a wonderful exchange of ideas, opinions and information with fellow Dickensians from all over the world. Unfortunately, over the past few years, I basically lost touch with everyone because of illness and various related family melodramas.
I am, however, not making any grand announcement here that “I’m back” because the perfectly reasonable response would be “Who cares?” Let’s just say that, on the eve of the Dickens bicentenary, I am looking forward to resuming a stimulating and enjoyable conversation with Dickensians everywhere about our mutual friend Charles Dickens, his wonderful books and stories, and the ever increasing number of adaptations that they have inspired.
And since I’m sharing a few tidbits of personal information and history, and with a nod in the direction of that larger context of Dickens’s role in our popular culture, let me close this little epistle by mentioning that I am also a huge fan of the enormous amount of great music that is produced (and enjoyed) largely outside of that diabolical commercial monolith known as the mainstream music industry. And in this context, I have always found it a delightful coincidence that one of my favorite bands over the past forty years or so has been named Uriah Heep…
And finally, I said something a moment ago about occasionally breaking a bit of Dickensian news. So here we go. Hold onto your hat, hold the phone, and stop the presses. Grab a chair and keep the nitroglycerin handy. Click here for details on the reintroduction to the world of what is, in my opinion, and the opinion of countless others, the Holy Grail of lost Dickensian television adaptations.