Dev Patel Is David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield and It Looks Amazing
The Personal History of David Copperfield is a 2019 British-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Armando Iannucci, based on the Victorian-era novel David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens. It stars Dev Patel as the titular character, alongside Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, and Ben Whishaw. Apparently, it premiered at TIFF, but nobody told me because I’m not important, but the first trailer just came out and I’m super excited about it!
Iannucci is the person responsible for creating the British political sitcom The Thick of It and 2017’s The Death of Stalin, which was so good that I paid to see it twice (despite one person in the cast who thankfully isn’t in it for that long), so, hearing that he is the one who’s directing this film gave me an extra bit of excitement. I find his work genuinely funny, and his ability to nail a dark-comedic tone is really of the highest caliber.
As for the source material, I can say that Dickens is an author I’m not as familiar with as I should be. The first novel I ever read by him was Bleak House. I never quite got around to Great Expectations, and while Oliver & Company is a masterpiece, it isn’t the same as picking up Oliver Twist. That being said, I did read the ol’ DC a few summers ago because I found a $1 copy at Strand and decided … eh? Why not?
David Copperfield, or The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account) was published in serial form by Dickens from 1849–50, which is why it’s an unforgiving 624 pages. The serial form is one of the worst and best ways to tell a story, depending on the author. Sometimes you get The Green Mile, other times you get Bleak House. (912 pages!)
The character of David Copperfield is believed to be based on Dickens himself, since the text incorporates many elements of his own life. The novel covers David’s story from pretty much his life to his death, which is easy when your book is serialized and is pretty much a perfect Bildungsroman. David is a gentle artist type, and the book is mostly a sweet-natured comedy. It’s not something that moves the needle, but it has enough charm and fun that I can understand why people kept coming back to this story.
I’m really excited to see Dev Patel in the role, and I’m loving the easy diversity of the cast. It’s refreshing to see these period dramas realize that the image of British-ness has evolved, and their dramas need to start reflecting that.
“Will I be the hero of my own life?” Let’s see, David.
(via Empire, image: Fox Searchlight)
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