The World’s Oldest Dickens Movie?

This is supposedly the death of Jo the crossing-sweep from Bleak House, filmed in 1901:

Love the understated acting and the smooth camera movement.  But something is lost in the translation from book to cinema.  Here is what Dickens actually wrote (thanks, Project Gutenberg!) As always, the sentimentality is almost too much for the modern sensibility.  But it works.  And note the way he pulls the camera back in the final short paragraph — just far enough to indict an entire society.  Tell me that it doesn’t give you goosebumps.

"Well, Jo! What is the matter? Don't be frightened."

“I thought,” says Jo, who has started and is looking round, “I thought I was in Tom-all-Alone’s agin. Ain’t there nobody here but you, Mr. Woodcot?”

“Nobody.”

“And I ain’t took back to Tom-all-Alone’s. Am I, sir?”

“No.” Jo closes his eyes, muttering, “I’m wery thankful.”

After watching him closely a little while, Allan puts his mouth very near his ear and says to him in a low, distinct voice, “Jo! Did you ever know a prayer?”

“Never knowd nothink, sir.”

“Not so much as one short prayer?”

“No, sir. Nothink at all. Mr. Chadbands he wos a-prayin wunst at Mr. Sangsby’s and I heerd him, but he sounded as if he wos a-speakin to hisself, and not to me. He prayed a lot, but I couldn’t make out
nothink on it. Different times there was other genlmen come down Tom-all-Alone’s a-prayin, but they all mostly sed as the t’other ‘wuns prayed wrong, and all mostly sounded to be a-talking to
theirselves, or a-passing blame on the t’others, and not a-talkin to us. WE never knowd nothink. I never knowd what it wos all about.”

It takes him a long time to say this, and few but an experienced and attentive listener could hear, or, hearing, understand him. After a short relapse into sleep or stupor, he makes, of a sudden, a strong
effort to get out of bed.

“Stay, Jo! What now?”

“It’s time for me to go to that there berryin ground, sir,” he returns with a wild look.

“Lie down, and tell me. What burying ground, Jo?”

“Where they laid him as wos wery good to me, wery good to me indeed, he wos. It’s time fur me to go down to that there berryin ground, sir, and ask to be put along with him. I wants to go there and be
berried. He used fur to say to me, ‘I am as poor as you to-day, Jo,’ he ses. I wants to tell him that I am as poor as him now and have come there to be laid along with him.”

“By and by, Jo. By and by.”

“Ah! P’raps they wouldn’t do it if I wos to go myself. But will you promise to have me took there, sir, and laid along with him?”

“I will, indeed.”

“Thankee, sir. Thankee, sir. They’ll have to get the key of the gate afore they can take me in, for it’s allus locked. And there’s a step there, as I used for to clean with my broom. It’s turned wery dark, sir. Is there any light a-comin?”

“It is coming fast, Jo.”

Fast. The cart is shaken all to pieces, and the rugged road is very near its end.

“Jo, my poor fellow!”

“I hear you, sir, in the dark, but I’m a-gropin–a-gropin–let me catch hold of your hand.”

“Jo, can you say what I say?”

“I’ll say anythink as you say, sir, for I knows it’s good.”

“Our Father.”

“Our Father! Yes, that’s wery good, sir.”

“Which art in heaven.”

“Art in heaven–is the light a-comin, sir?”

“It is close at hand. Hallowed be thy name!”

“Hallowed be–thy–”

The light is come upon the dark benighted way. Dead!

Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, right reverends and wrong reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.

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