NEW YORK, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- After winning worldwide acclaim for first opera The Little Prince, Oscar-winning English composer Rachel Portman returns to film to create the original score for Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski's new film based on Charles Dickens's classic novel Oliver Twist. Sony Classical will release the film's original soundtrack recording on Tuesday, September 20, 2005, and the TriStar Pictures release will open in theaters nationwide on September 30, 2005.
Portman is the first woman ever to win an Academy Award for scoring a film, for her music for the 1996 comedy Emma. She subsequently won Oscar and Grammy nominations for her scores for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat, both of which can be heard on Sony Classical original soundtrack recordings. The label also released simultaneously on CD and DVD the BBC film of The Little Prince, which had its stage premiere in Houston in 2003. In July, Portman received her first Emmy nomination, in the category of Outstanding Musical Direction, for the PBS Great Performances broadcast of the opera. The opera will have its New York stage premiere at New York City Opera in November.
Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist represents a striking departure from his last film, the powerful World War II drama The Pianist, for which he won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Director. An enduring tale about an orphaned boy who gets involved with a gang of pickpockets in the underworld of early 19th-century London, Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist, published in 1838, has been filmed before, in Sir David Lean's classic 1948 version and as the musical Oliver!, directed by Sir Carol Reed, based on the international stage hit and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968.
"We are not going to strive for realism, quite the opposite," Polanski has said of his film, shot principally in a vast recreation of period London built on the soundstages of Prague's Barrandov Studio. "The characters in this story are larger-than-life with the emphasis on their glorious humor and eccentricities. This is a Dickensian tale in the truest sense, which means it is exuberant, intriguing and timeless. And it is full of incident that is constantly surprising."
After an extensive search, Polanski chose the 11-year-old English actor Barney Clark for the title role in Oliver Twist. He joins a cast headed by Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays Fagin, the master of the boy pickpockets, and young Harry Eden as The Artful Dodger, as well as Jamie Foreman (Bill Sykes), Leanne Rowe (Nancy), Edward Hardwicke (Mr. Brownlow) and Jeremy Swift (Mr. Bumble).
Oliver Twist reunites Polanski will a number of colleagues from The Pianist, including producers Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde, co-producer Timothy Burrill, screenwriter Ronald Harwood, cinematographer Pawel Edelman, production designer Allan Starski and costume designer Anna Shepard.
A TriStar Pictures release of an independent co-production of R.P. Films of France, Runteam II Ltd. of the U.K. and Etic Films s.r.o. of the Czech Republic, Oliver Twist is directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Ronald Harwood, produced by Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde and Polanski, and co-produced by Timothy Burrill and Petr Moravec.
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