Charles Dickens is one of the most celebrated authors in the English language. As such, his works have been adapted quite a few times. While “A Christmas Carol” may be his most adapted work, his novel “Oliver Twist” has also seen its share of screen time. The story of a young orphan turned pickpocket has been seen on the big screen 12 times and in many forms.
The wide range of adaptations include the Oscar-winning musical “Oliver!,” Disney’s animated “Oliver & Company,” and even two adaptations that have layered in heavy homosexual themes. Now Variety reports producer Michael De Luca will be bringing a new take on the story to the big screen: a modern take that will have the lead character changed to a female.
The new project will be titled “Olivia Twisted” and is currently set to star Ashley Greene. Greene is best known for playing the vampiric Alice in the “Twilight” series of films. The details revealed in the Variety article are somewhat vague. What is known is that Greene will play the titular character, who is part of a group of “highly-trained, orphaned street urchins.” The group is hired to perform a kidnapping and this inadvertently puts them in the middle of a turf war between rival criminal factions.
At first glance that description bares only a passing resemblance to Dickens’ original work. In the novel Oliver is an orphan who is sold to an undertaker only to run away and later join a group of young street thieves. Oliver is naive by nature and gets in over his head, becoming tied to the whim of violent criminals. Oliver himself is kidnapped at one point but does not participate in the kidnapping of others. There’s also nothing that could really be described as a turf war, though there are arguments between the criminal characters of Fagin and Bill Sikes.
Variety describes the new film as “ultra-modern” but does not describe the setting at all. It’s presumed that “Oliver Twisted” will have a modern-day setting, but it’s possible that only the sensibilities of the story will be modern and it will in fact still be a period piece. There is mention of a gothic backdrop, which is an idea that would lend itself more toward a period time frame than a modern one.
“Oliver Twist” has proved itself open to interpretation, but this will mark the first time the character has been changed into a woman. The change that may be the greatest alteration is actually the character’s age being listed as 19. A major theme of the novel and most adaptations is Oliver’s naive and trusting nature due to his youth. This is something that would be difficult to convey with an older character and is something that will likely be dropped altogether in this adaptation.
De Luca is not the only producer on the project, but he is the highest-profile name related to the film at this point. He was a producer on the upcoming “Moneyball” as well as last year’s Oscar-nominated “The Social Network.” No director has yet been attached, though there is a completed script from Michael Roberts.
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