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David Copperfield

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The most ambitious Thanhouser Company effort since its first release in 1910 came with David Copperfield. Based on Charles Dickens’s 1850 immortal story of an English lad's tribulation-filled journey to adulthood, Thanhouser released the films over the course of three weeks beginning on October 17, 1911, one 1,000 foot reel per week.

This is the first time these films have been made available to the public on DVD. The high quality video transfer on the DVD is from a new restoration effort undertaken in 2012 by Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Torino, Italy.

Directed by George O. Nichols for Edwin Thanhouser, the film's cast included Flora Foster (David Copperfield as a young boy); Ed Genung (David Copperfield as a man), Marie Eline (Little Em'ly as a child), Florence LaBadie (Little Em'ly as an adult), Anna Seer (David's mother), Frank H. Crane, Alphonse Ethier, Maude Fealy, Mignon Anderson (Dora), Marguerite Snow (Agnes), William Garwood, Harry Benham, Viola Alberti (Aunt Betsey), Justus D. Barnes, William Russell (Ham), and James Cruze (Steerforth).

The three reels were praised by a reviewer in the September 20, 1911 issue of The Motion Picture World: “The best ideals and fondest expectations of both the friends of the moving picture and the readers of Dickens have been realized.” 

Watch the David Copperfield trailer (1:41)

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The three-reel black and white silent film has a running time of 40 minutes with an aspect ratio of 1.33 : 1. The DVD includes the original Italian intertitles with optional English subtitles translated by author and film critic David Robinson. New and original music was commissioned exclusively for this DVD that was composed and performed by internationally renowned musicologist Dr. Philip Carli.

David Copperfield was photographed in and around New Rochelle, NY, including scenes along the New York Long Island sound. The DVD includes an optional commentary track by Dickens’ scholar Professor Joss Marsh, and an additional “bonus” film, Thanhouser’s 1912 production of Nicholas Nickleby based on Dickens’ 1838/1839 serialized novel.

Read a biography of Charles Dickens and Dr. Joss Marsh's article The Endurance of Dickens for a critical analysis of Charles Dickens literary persistence.

Read the David Copperfield DVD Press Release and the Press Kit.

This film Copyright © 2012 Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Copyright © 2012 Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc., All rights reserved.