Oliver Twist (2005) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • An adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master.

  • In the Nineteenth Century, orphan Oliver Twist is sent from the orphanage to a workhouse, where the children are mistreated and barely fed. He moves to the house of an undertaker, but after an unfair severe spank, he starts a seven day runaway to London. He arrives exhausted and starving, and is soon welcomed in a gang of pickpockets lead by the old crook Fagin. When he is mistakenly taken as a thief, the wealthy victim Mr. Brownlow brings Oliver to his home and shelters him. But Fagin and the dangerous Bill Sykes decide to kidnap Oliver to burglarize Mr. Brownlow's fancy house.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In 19th century England, penniless orphan Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) is brought to a workhouse on his ninth birthday by a parish beadle, Mr. Bumble (Jeremy Swift). Oliver and the other resident children are treated poorly and given very little food. Facing starvation, the boys select Oliver, through a lottery, to ask for more food at the next meal, which he tentatively does. This infuriates the workhouse officials (all well-fed, hypocritical men) who decide to get rid of him, and offer a cash reward for anyone willing to take Oliver off of their hands. After nearly being made an apprentice to a cruel chimney sweep, Oliver is taken in by Mr. Sowerberry (Michael Heath), an undertaker, whose wife (Gillian Hanna) and senior apprentice Noah (Chris Overton) take an instant dislike to the newcomer. After more poor treatment, Oliver snaps and attacks Noah for having insulted his late mother. Knowing his life with the Sowerberrys will only get worse, Oliver escapes on foot.

    With little food, Oliver embarks on the 70-mile walk to London. A kindly old woman (Liz Smith) gives him food and lodgings for a night after he collapses from exhaustion. After a week of travel, he arrives at the city, starving and shoeless. He meets Jack Dawkins, or "The Artful Dodger" (Harry Eden), a boy-thief who takes Oliver to his home that he shares with many other young pickpockets and their eccentric elderly leader, Fagin (Ben Kingsley). Soon, Oliver is being groomed to join their gang. On his first outing with the pickpockets, two of the boys steal a man's handkerchief and Oliver is framed. However he is proven innocent by an eyewitness, and the owner of the handkerchief, the wealthy Mr. Brownlow (Edward Hardwicke) takes pity on Oliver, who had collapsed from a fever during his brief trial. Brownlow informally adopts Oliver, giving him new clothes, lodgings, and the promise of a good education. While out running an errand for Brownlow, Oliver is forcibly returned to the pickpocket gang by Fagin's associate, the sinister Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman), and Nancy (Leanne Rowe), a young prostitute who is in a complex and abusive relationship with Sykes. Fagin and Sykes worried that Oliver would "peach" and tell the authorities about their criminal activity. Oliver is put under constant supervision at Fagin's lair until Bill Sykes discovers the boy's connection to the rich Mr. Brownlow. Sykes and his accomplice, Toby Crackit (Mark Strong), force Oliver to aid them in robbing Brownlow's house. They are discovered and Oliver is wounded in a brief shootout between Brownlow and Sykes. As the three escape, Bill decides to murder Oliver to ensure his silence, but falls into a nearby river before he can take action.

    Bill survives his near-drowning, but is confined to bed with a heavy fever. He and Fagin (who, despite treating Oliver kindly, remains crime-focused) plot to kill Oliver when Sykes has recovered. Nancy has a maternal love for Oliver and does not want to see him hurt, but she is controlled by the abusive Sykes. Despite her fears, Nancy drugs Bill and sneaks to Brownlow's house where she arranges to have him meet her on London Bridge at midnight so she can provide information about Oliver. At the meeting, Nancy cautiously reveals that Oliver is staying with Fagin and his band of pickpockets, and that the authorities will find them easily. Brownlow leaves to call the police. The Artful Dodger, who had been sent by a suspicious Fagin to spy on Nancy, had heard everything and is bullied out of the information by Bill Sykes. Sykes is furious at Nancy's betrayal, and brutally beats her to death in their apartment when she returns.

    The next day, information about Oliver and Fagin appear in the newspaper, along with Nancy's murder and the suspected guilt of Bill Sykes. Sykes' ever-present dog, Bullseye, is a dead giveaway to his identity. After unsuccessfully trying to kill the dog, who scampers away into the village, Sykes takes up residence with Toby Crackit. Fagin, Oliver, and the boys are hiding there too, after escaping their previous location before the police could find them. Their safety is short-lived, as Bullseye soon guides a mob of police and locals to the group's hideout. Eventually, Dodger, who is outraged at Sykes for killing the kindhearted Nancy, reveals their location to the authorities. Bill Sykes, planning to escape, takes Oliver onto the roof, knowing he will not be shot at if the boy is with him. When trying to scale the building using a rope, Sykes loses his footing and accidentally hangs himself.

    Some time later, Oliver is living comfortably with Mr. Brownlow again. Fagin was arrested (though the fate of the pickpockets is unknown), and Oliver wishes to visit him in jail. Brownlow takes him to the prison, where they find Fagin ranting and wailing in his cell. Oliver is distraught at Fagin's fate, as he had been something of a father figure to Oliver. As Mr. Brownlow escorts a tearful Oliver to a carriage, gallows are being set up in the courtyard. Townspeople begin to gather to watch Fagin's execution.

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