Moll Flanders (1996 film)

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Moll Flanders
Moll Flanders film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPen Densham
Produced byJohn Watson
Richard B. Lewis
Pen Densham
Written byPen Densham
Music byMark Mancina
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byJames R. Symons
Neil Travis
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
June 14, 1996
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
BudgetUS$16 million
Box office$3,486,957

Moll Flanders is a 1996 American drama film starring Robin Wright and Morgan Freeman. The film was directed by Pen Densham. The original music score was composed by Mark Mancina. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Defoe.

Plot summary[edit]

African-American aristocrat Hibble takes a warrant of custody towards a young girl who is being physically mistreated at an orphanage by abusive nuns. Afterwards, Hibble reluctantly begins to tell her the story about her mother.

The woman who will become the girl’s mother is a poor teenager named Moll Flanders. Once the daughter of a thief, Moll’s mother was hanged while Moll was at a young age. Moll is placed into a church but rebels after a priest sexually assaults her leading to the former stabbing him with kitting needles only to be whipped as a result.

Moll finds the courage to escape despite being arrested and is eventually taken in by Mrs Allworthy, the owner of a local brothel. Things go well with her life as a prostitude until one night when she is ganged up by a group of angry customers. Worst of all, Moll is even whipped for lying to the headmistress of the brothel.

Moll makes friends with Hibble in the process of getting her life on track and eventually falls in love with a kind artist named Jonathan. However, Allworthy begins dominating Moll, leading to her being forcibly separated from Jonathan while preparing to travel the world with Hibble. Unknown to Allworthy, Moll is pregnant.

That night, a storm forces the ship into a frenzy. Moll begins to fight for control against Allworthy with the latter being swept away by the raging current. Hibble is horrified as Moll herself is carried away by the storm.

After finishing his story, Hibble proclaims that Moll was lost at sea. Disillusioned, the girl blames Hibble for not saving her and almost runs away until Moll shows up, alive and well, having survived the storm and reconciles with her daughter.


Critical reception[edit]

Based on 22 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Moll Flanders currently has a 45% approval rating from critics.[1] A problem many critics had was with the movie largely throwing out the original Defoe story and structuring it like Forrest Gump (in which Wright was prominently featured). While the original book was about a woman's struggle to survive a male-dominated era (the early 17th century) and her turning to illegal actions to make it through (stealing and prostitution, among other means), the movie dealt with Moll's working on herself and improving her life.[2]

Roger Ebert gave the movie three stars and said of the film "it's an original; Densham took only the name, the period, and a few notions from Defoe, and has made up the rest."[3]


The International Press Academy nominated Moll Flanders for four awards: Robin Wright for Best Actress in a Drama, John Lynch for Supporting Actor in a drama, Stockard Channing for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, and a nomination for Costume Design.

Notes and references[edit]


The film was released in 1996, but still uses a 1995 copyright notice in the closing credits.

External links[edit]