Nicholas Nickleby: a Movie for Today

Nicholas Nickleby, based on Charles Dickens’ critique of the effects of unscrupulous capitalism expressed through market  “speculation”, is a tale for our times. This 2002 version isn’t necessarily the best of the many screen and TV adaptations produced through the years, but it was nominated for a Golden Globe and is highly “watchable” (the comic burlesque aspects are very entertaining.)  And it offers much to talk about in terms of the side-effects of capitalism. 

Dickens wrote the novel in serial form from 1838-1839. The novel addresses the social ills of industrialism and capitalism as they literally impacted the lives of ordinary people in England through memorable characters. Ordinary has many expressions for Dickens in this novel, but this only makes the story more engaging and relevant for 21st century capitalists of the west.

The question I am left with at the end of this film, and at the end of many of Dickens’ stories, is one that is posed in other contemporary films from Wall Street to Glengarry Glenross to The Constant Gardener to In Good Company: Is it possible for capitalism to have a soul?

Current events have me asking the same question.

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