I blogged about the Oliver! musical film of 1968 and made it quite clear that in my opinion, that film leaves much to hope for and I would welcome the remake that Sir Cameron Mackintosh has tentatively promised. Even though I'm just a little Finn with my little opinions, I have put together an open letter to all the people who might someday be involved in the new Oliver! project – in all understanding that none of the "right people" will probably ever read it. Whatever, I'm still going to have fun with this.
Dear production team of the possible Oliver! remake, here are some of my suggestions how you could make it a better film than the 1968 one.
First and foremost, please make the movie in the spirit of a rather dark Dickens classic and not a children's movie. Do not hesitate to show us the dark side of Victorian London and its people. Be as honest with the setting as Dickens was, and managed to raise real awareness of the poor peoples' plight.
Sir Cameron, you have expressed interest in having Stephen Daldry direct the film. I think this is a fantastic idea, because as director of the absolutely brilliant Billy Elliot film, he has shown ability to work with children and handle a story that has a grim setting but where humour is essential too. Both of these abilities, I think, are very good to have in an Oliver! director. It also doesn't hurt Mr Daldry's reputation that he has worked in the world of stage musicals as well.
Please find an Oliver who can sing and is a charismatic enough actor to carry the story. Enough said.
Please give us the real Nancy, who is not a perfect girl, who develops, and who sings her soul out in those songs. I wouldn't mind casting Samantha Barks at all, having heard her great interpretations of Nancy's songs, but if you give the chance to some new, interesting talent I wouldn't mind either. Samantha's career has already taken off the way she deserves.
Please don't turn every scene into a huge, organized, choreographed dance party.
Please let Bill Sikes sing My Name because it's a wonderful song and it's the perfect way to explain what a dark character Bill is. If possible, bring back all the other songs too that were cut in the 1968 film.
Please make sure that the actors who speak in Cockney sound authentic.
Please have the actors sing live like they did in the Les Misérables film. It sounds fantastic and it really gives the actors the chance to pour emotions into the songs in a way that simply isn't possible in a studio. Oliver! too contains songs where the feelings must sound real – As Long As He Needs Me is just one example.
But let the Artful Dodger keep his top hat, because that is adorable.
That's all I ask of you.