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Charles Dickens Adaptations to Unspool During British Film Institute's Screen Season

Helena Bonham Carter, Great Expectations
BBC Films

Trevor Nunn, Martin Jarvis and David Threlfall among the names on the event's roster of participants.

LONDON – Hollywood interpretations, rarely seen silent movies and British adaptations of the work of novelist Charles Dickens will all unspool as part of the British Film Institute's Dickens on Screen season beginning next month.

The season will kick off at the BFI Southbank in December with a brace of BBC TV preview shows -- The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Arena: Dickens on Film, a fresh exploration into Dickens’ contribution to film and TV history co-produced by Film London, written and narrated by season co-curators Michael Eaton and Adrian Wootton and directed by Anthony Wall.

From January through March 2012, the BFI Southbank will then play host to previews, screenings and panel discussions, with Trevor Nunn, Martin Jarvis and David Threlfall among the names scheduled to take part.

Movies set to unspool include everything from silent films such as Scrooge - or Marley’s Ghost (U.K. 1901) and David Copperfield (1913) to Hollywood’s interpretations including The Only Way (1926) and Jack Conway’s A Tale of Two Cities (1935) starring Ronald Colman. Also on the bill are British adaptations of the same story such as the 1958 version A Tale of Two Cities starring Dirk Bogarde.

BFI organizers said at the season’s heart will be David Lean’s Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948), considered by many to be the defining movies made from Dickens’ canon.

Carol Reed’s Oliver! (1968) and Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist (2005) are also on the big screen roster.

The season is part of Dickens 2012, the worldwide celebrations throughout 2012 marking the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth.

BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart said it is not surprising Dickens remains the most adapted author of all time.

“Working with our partners, and with the BFI National Archive so rich with interpretations of Dickens’ work, we have the perfect opportunity to present the biggest and widest ranging ever retrospective of Dickens on screen – from the  lesser known works to the classics,” Stewart said.

The appetite for adaptations continues unabated.

Mike Newell is currently shooting a big screen adaptation of Great Expectations starring Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter, due to be released in fall 2012. At the same time, the BBC is backing a television adaptation directed by Brian Kirk.