Little Dorrit

Watch Little Dorrit

  • G
  • 1988
  • 6 hr
  • 7.2  (1,229)

Little Dorrit is a British film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, directed by Christine Edzard and released in 1987. The film chronicles the life of Amy Dorrit (Sarah Pickering), a young woman who was born and raised in Marshalsea debtor’s prison alongside her father William Dorrit (Alec Guinness). Driven by the sense of duty to her father, who has never fully recovered from the trauma of life in prison, Amy decides to take on odd jobs to earn enough money to support him. She becomes a seamstress and a companion to a wealthy family, the Clennams, whose patriarch, Arthur Clennam (Derek Jacobi), is investigating a mystery that involves Miss Pet Meagles (Joan Greenwood), a family friend.

As the storyline unfolds, we come across a range of tertiary characters who each have their own intriguing storylines. There is the irascible Miss Wade (Maxine Audley), William Dorrit’s new friend, who seems to have an agenda of her own. There is Fanny Dorrit (Miriam Margolyes), Amy’s elder sister, who aspires to marry well and escape the prison. And then there are the Merdles (Frank Thornton and Patricia Hayes), a wealthy couple whose lavish lifestyle is a mask for their deepening financial difficulties.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its visual style. Edzard filmed on location at many of the places Dickens wrote about—dockyards, alleyways, and debtors’ prisons—generating a vivid sense of time and place. The filmmakers used non-traditional shooting techniques, such as aerial shots, near-constant camera movement, and imaginative set designs to bring the world of the book to life. The film's editing, too, is innovative in that it is not linear, with scenes often cutting abruptly from one to another, as if the story is being told through a series of disjointed memories.

Little Dorrit is a complex and multi-layered film that explores themes of class, the nature of wealth, and the failings of human institutions. The central conflict is between the value systems of the Clennams and the Dorrits, which reflect the differences between the worlds of finance and the creative arts. Arthur Clennam is a businessman who has inherited his father’s factory and has become disillusioned with the social structures he is a part of. When he meets Amy, he is struck by her purity and integrity, and as their relationship deepens, he questions the values he has always held dear.

Guinness’s performance as William Dorrit, the proud and self-important patriarch who is slowly losing touch with reality, is a standout. His scenes in the prison, where he has the status and respect of an aristocrat, are particularly compelling. Jacobi, as Arthur, captures the character’s melancholy, while Pickering gives a sympathetic and nuanced portrayal of Amy, the emotional center of the story. Greenwood, too, is excellent as Miss Meagles, conveying the character’s warmth and generosity of spirit.

Overall, Little Dorrit is a remarkable adaptation of one of Dickens’s most complex novels. With its eye-catching visuals, powerful performances, and well-drawn characters, it remains a rewarding cinematic experience.

Little Dorrit is a 1988 drama with a runtime of 6 hours. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.

Little Dorrit
Where to Watch Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit is available to watch free on Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download on demand at Amazon Prime and The Roku Channel. Some platforms allow you to rent Little Dorrit for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    6 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (1,229)