The Personal History of David Copperfield Review: A Touching Retelling of the Novel

Released in 2019, The Personal History of David Copperfield is a glorious attempt at visualizing Charles Dicken’s novel in a way never seen before. Whether it comes off as poor execution of the story or the genius work of director Armando Iannucci to create a comical, multi-racial adaptation, it touches the heart of the fanatics of the novel.

Casting Dev Patel as David Copperfield was the right choice as he fitted right into the role of a quick-witted and optimistic young man. The film’s ability to take the main elements from the novel and mixing them with a long narrative of inspiration and comedy is a mark of Iannucci’s brilliance. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield has a theatrical opening. From the set to the clothes and the dialogues, everything makes the movie seem like you are watching a play. And of course, the opening scene of David standing on a stage in a theatre while narrating his story adds to the thespian look of the film. 

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A Timeless and Unique Adaptation

The film depicts the life of David from his childhood to becoming an adult. The adventures and hardships that he goes through to evolve into a mature young man, the people he meets whether they are his friends or enemies, The Personal History of David Copperfield recreates this timeless story into a unique, one-of-a-kind alteration. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield Opening Stage Scene
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David has an idyllic life while growing up. A big house in the open fields where the trees and grass dance to the wind, life couldn’t have been more perfect for him. He lives with his widowed mother Clara, played by Morfydd Clark, whom he loves dearly. David is taken to meet the family of his nanny Peggotty, played by Daisy May Cooper, who lives in a boathouse in Yarmouth. When he returns to his home, like many great moments in his life, his holy abode gets abrupted. His mother marries a sinister man named Mr. Murdstone, played by Darren Boyd.

This is a turning point in young David’s life. What was once his haven turns into a place he cannot bear. What makes it worse is that his step-father beats David. He is sent to work in Murdstone’s factory – another significant moment in his life. He meets new people, faces many atrocities which eventually shape his future and dreams to become an author. 

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He witnesses the cruelty of the world and at the same time, he is embraced by love. While working at the factory, he lodges with Mr. Micawber, played by Peter Capaldi, and his family, who live in a house that is poorly maintained. He learns that Micawber and his family are pursued by vulture-like creditors. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield Mr. Micawber and David scene
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After hearing the dreadful news of his mother passing away, David decides to turn his life upside down by going to live with his wealthy aunt Betsey Trotwood, played by Tilda Swinton, and her enigmatic companion Mr. Dick, played by Hugh Laurie. His aunt finances his dreams of becoming an author and he takes full advantage of this. He again meets different people in his life who become mere characters playing vital roles in David’s growth. 

Clever, Passionate, and Touching

The Personal History of David Copperfield, in all its glory, is a touching story of a boy who at a very young age has to take decisions as an adult. The screenplay, the costumes, and the light-heartedness make this movie an amalgamation of cleverness and passion.  He also values and adapts to the personality of the people he has met in his life to his personality and writings. David successfully becomes a child who was once unheard by his mother to an adult standing at the centre of the stage with gleaming eyes and open ears pointing towards him. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield David, his aunt, Mr. Dick and Agnes scene
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Everyone who knows that David Copperfield was the favourite book of Charles Dicken’s would know that portraying the 600 pages of that novel into a two-hour-long movie is not a piece of cake.  The film echoes the tale of a boy who is the main character in his life. This cannot be explained better than from the opening lines “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

The Personal History of David Copperfield is an eccentric film about life and people. It depicts human growth excitingly and timelessly. The movie radiates energy while keeping in mind the mellow tones when needed. Once you start watching The Personal History of David Copperfield, it is hard to not finish the film. Let us know in the comments below about your thoughts on this film.

You can watch The Personal History of David Copperfield on Amazon Prime Video.

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The Personal History of David Copperfield is eccentric, fun and highly watchable.

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