The classic Charles Dickens tale of an orphaned boy who is persuaded to join a band of pickpockets in 19th century London, is retold by director Roman Polanski: Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) escapes a brutal workhouse only to join a gang ruled by the sinister Fagin (Ben Kingsley). However, his life seems to change when he runs into a kind and wealthy gentlemen (Edward Hardwicke) who sees in him a spark of goodness and trustworthiness. Also with Jamie Foreman, Frank Finlay and Harry Eden. [2:10]
SEX/NUDITY 2 - Two young women wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage in many scenes and a boy is bare-chested in a couple of scenes, while dressing or washing. In a pub scene men and women nuzzle and caress each other briefly. A young woman hugs a man.
VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A man knocks a young woman to the floor, she pleads with him, and he beats her repeatedly with a walking stick until blood spurts on a table; the next day we see a trail of pooled blood on the floor and near a doorway, and a newspaper describes her as having been brutally murdered.
► A boy is pushed through a small window in a house while two men wait outside for him to let them in: the boy calls to the owner of the house, we hear two gunshots and the boy falls to the floor wounded (we see his arm later with a deep, bloody wound). A man tries to clean a wound on a boy's arm by pouring alcohol on it (we see the bloody wound), and the boy thrashes and moans from the pain. A boy removes a bandage from his wounded arm, we see that his arm is bruised and the wound appears infected, and a man applies a salve to it.
► A man slips, he is wrapped in a rope, and he hangs by the neck and swings back and forth (a dog howls sorrowfully in the background).
► A man hits a young woman hard in the face and she falls to the floor. A man locks a door and forces a young woman to stay inside; she refuses and tries to leave, and he grabs her by the hair, throws her into a room, and locks her in. A man hits a boy on the back with his cane, a young woman punches the man on the back several times and another man throws the woman down on the floor.
► A boy talks derogatively about another boy's mother in a few scenes: in one scene the boy who is being teased jumps on the other boy and begins hitting him, he is pulled away by two women and he is locked in a coal bin, and when he is let out he is hit on the buttocks by a man with a cane. A boy is chased through streets by men and is eventually punched in the face and knocked down by another man (we see blood on the boy's mouth and blood on the man's knuckles); the boy is then taken away by police officers.
► A young woman grabs a boy walking along a street, and a man hits him on the head and threatens him while other people in the street cheer the man on. A man is shot at by police, he grabs a boy and pulls him through a window and the two walk along the rooftop while police officers shoot at them. A man loads a gun and holds it to a boy's face. A man holds a boy by the lapels, yells and shakes him, but the boy gets away from the man, grabs a long fork and threatens the man with it. A man with a large pair of scissors lunges toward a boy and threatens him. A boy jumps on a man knocking him to the floor and punches him several times. A man hits a boy with his cane and chases him around a large table. A boy kicks another boy in the buttocks. Several boys and a dog chase a boy through streets: he is eventually cut off and grabbed by a man and is taken back and locked in a room.
► A man kicks a dog hard in several scenes causing the dog to yip and whimper. A man hits a donkey on the nose with a stick (the donkey whimpers). A dog is frightened when a man calls it, the man tries to tie it to a rope with a weight on it (planning to drown the dog), but the dog bites at the rope and struggles, and the man kicks it twice and the dog runs away.
► Boys walk along the streets of a city and into alleyways where there are people huddled in filth and rats scamper around. A man and a boy walk through dark and eerie streets, they meet another man, and the two men arm themselves and plan to rob a house. A boy walks many miles alone on a road, his shoes become tattered and he collapses from hunger and exhaustion. Many boys and girls are gathered in a dirty and dark room in a workhouse where they unravel heavy rope for hours on end. People shove each other and argue in a street.
► A boy enters a prison cell where a man is being held and will be hanged in the morning; the man appears mentally unstable and the boy pleads for the man to be forgiven. A boy collapses in a courtroom, he is carried outside, put down on the street, and then carried to a carriage. A boy paces in a dormitory where boys sleep in wooden crates because he is so hungry that he is afraid he'll "eat the boy" in the next bed. A boy pleads with a man not to send him away with another man who does not appear to be kind. A boy sick with a fever gets up, stumbles and collapses onto the floor. Several boys hold another boy, they root through his pockets, steal money and books that he is carrying and then take his clothes.
► A man stumbles down a hill and into a river, and he is pulled away by the current (we see him later with a fever). A boy sleeps on the stoop of a building and we see his badly wounded feet (they are blackened and have bloody cuts on them).
► A boy is frightened by his reflection in a mirror, and he runs and hides under a desk. A dog barks aggressively at a boy and the boy is afraid. A boy sleeps in a room where coffins are built. A boy acts out someone being hanged, and he pulls a tie up around his neck, sticks out his tongue and gags.
► A man tells another man that they must kill a boy -- that he will drown him in the river. A man says that a boy should be hanged for asking for more food. A man talks about children getting stuck inside chimneys and that they would work hard to get out if there was a flame beneath them "roasting their feet." A man talks to a boy about another boy having been hanged. A man says that he has measured two women who died the previous night (he is a casket maker).
► Boys teach another boy how to pickpocket from people in busy streets and marketplaces. Boys steal property from people in many scenes (wallets, scarves, and watches). Boys steal food from a market in several scenes.
► A man is stooped and missing teeth and his hands and fingers are dirty and stained. Boys gulp down gruel. A boy eats scraps of food that had been left for a dog.
PROFANITY 3 - 6 mild obscenities, name-calling (prig, "workhouse," scallywag, useless), 4 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - A boy drinks a cup of hot water and gin and then passes out, several people (including a boy) drink alcohol (it looks like sherry) in celebration, men and women drink alcohol in a few pub scenes, a man drinks alcohol with a meal, and a man drinks alcohol while sick with a fever. A man drinks alcohol and smokes a pipe, a boy smokes a pipe in several scenes, several boys smoke pipes and cigarettes in a pub scene, and two men snort snuff.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - Orphans, orphanages, 19th century London, the mistreatment of children, workhouses, innocence, trust, love, sin, ingratitude, virtue, forgiveness.
MESSAGE - Goodness can be transparent even in the most adverse circumstances. Depravity, poverty and societal indifference can push even good people into crime.