Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Review : Great Expectations (1946)

Great Expectations : The David Lean Adaptation of this Dicken's classic, tells the story of young Pip. A humble orphan, who suddenly is brought up in London, and becomes a gentleman of Great Expectations with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Let's be honest, when I said I was reviewing 'Great Expectations' you thought I would be reviewing the newer version with Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes didn't you? Well you are all wrong. I'm reviewing the David Lean adaptation.

There are four versions of 'Great Expectations' existing on record I believe, one of course being the book form written by Charles Dickens, the second being this film in question by David Lean, the third being a totally inaccurate three part TV Series, with Douglas Booth and Ray Winstone in it, and the fourth and more recent version being the one with Jeremy Irvine, Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter. Yes, they remade it again.  

The odd thing about the later version is, it came out a year after the TV Series adaptation aired on television in Christmas 2011. Out of all the 'Film & TV' versions made, I think this version that I am reviewing now is the best one out of all of them. Quite clearly the best one. It stands up as being far more superior than the rubbish remakes, which are inaccurate to the story telling or have over gone past the fact of story telling all together by hiring well known actors to grasp the viewers attention into watching it. 

This version has a cast of diverse and immaculate actors who were a big name at the time of 1946. John Mills as Pip was the Tom Cruise of the 40's. He had quite a big name for himself at the time, Valerie Hobson as Estella, though quite subdued in her performance was a well known name, as was Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham who is frightening, she looks like the decaying old woman as Dickens describes her in the novel, and the black and white back drop makes things all the more sinister. 

One of the best things about Charles Dickens and a Charles Dickens story is the way his characters colonize your memory. I wonder if there's any novel writer except Shakespeare and J K Rowling, who have created more characters whose names we remember, and whose types seem so true to human nature. So for a  director like 'David Lean' or 'Mike Newell' adapting a Dickens novel finds that much of their work has been done for him.

Certainly that's the case with David Lean's "Great Expectations” released in 1946, which has been highly regarded as being one of the best of all of his films, and does what quite a few films based on great books can do: Creates pictures on the screen that do not clash with the images already existing in our minds. Lean brings what Dickens writes on the page' classic set-pieces to life as if he knows it like the back of his hand : Pip's encounter with the convict Magwitch in the churchyard, Pip's first meeting with the mad Miss Havisham, and the ghoulish atmosphere in the law offices of Mr. Jaggers, whose walls are decorated with the death masks of clients he has lost to the gallows.

I studied this story as part of my GSCE English Literature, I know the story like the back of my hand and I love it. I really like this film, I think without this film as a guide, I would of been lost because I wasn't too bothered about reading the book, mainly because I couldn't understand the context of the english language written in it. This film allowed me to view the story as a visual point of perspective, comaparing it to other versions that have been and gone, there's no compition that this is the best version of the story that has been released so far. 7/10

NEXT : Disney's The Jungle Book

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