A Flitting Journey
Having headed to Yarmouth David Copperfield (Robin Phillips), as he walks along a deserted beach, his thoughts return to the events of the past. His memories take him from his days of being an orphan passed from one relative to another to the people he became close to who died. He feels guilt over what some of those close to him went through and that he did not act, whilst also feeling worn down by the hardships he has faced.
I blame those who through my childhood made reading such a joyless, arduous experience that I have never read the classics or felt a desire to do so. But that does often put me in a rather unique position when I then chose to watch a movie adaptation of a classic such as Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield". I say that because most of the opinions I looked at in relation to this 1969 made for TV version were by those who already knew the story and they seemed to either think it was great or the complete opposite with it failing to bring the story to life with few who have shared their opinion finding a middle ground. And in truth I have to go with those who found this version weak because watching without already knowing the story was an arduous task.
Now the reason for this version of "David Copperfield" being so arduous may come down to the fact the storyline feels too big to fit in to 2 hours. As such this production flits from one scene to the next but never feels like these scenes truly connect and so if you don't already know the story of "David Copperfield" you are left trying to figure out what is what, who is who and how they relate. It does simply make this an arduous task to watch and truth be told one which once it was over I was not only grateful for it ending but not really much the wiser as to what the story of "David Copperfield" is or at least why so many people like it.
But cramming too much in to 2 hours is not the only issue I have with this 1969 version of "David Copperfield" as sadly the acting does little to impress. Maybe again that comes down to trying to do too much and not putting in the bits which make the story flow but far too often it felt like the actors were playing their parts but not connecting with the other actors in their scenes. On top of that some of the cast seem to be trying to deliver character whilst others simply over act their way through all their scenes. In the end I have to say that considering the calibre of the cast in this version of "David Copperfield" I was distinctly unimpressed.
What this all boils down to is that this 1969 version of "David Copperfield" ended up an arduous disappointment for me, a movie which wasn't able to bring the story to life in a way that those who were unfamiliar with it could watch, understand and enjoy.