Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Great Expectations

Box Art
I've never read Great Expectations, but I was aware of it and knew it was a classic. I noticed this film in a store once, but I kind of glanced past it. After a while, I noticed this movie on Youtube, so I thought I would give it a try on Youtube and see if I liked it or not.

Young Pip is invited to the home of Miss Havisham to entertain her and Estella, a orphan that she raised after her fiancee abandoned her on her wedding day. Years later, Pip comes into a great fortune from an unknown benefactor that quickly changes his life.

I only recognized three members of the cast. Though I haven't yet seen Amazing Grace (but I really want to!), I knew of Ioan Gruffudd (though I never realized it, he was also in 102 Dalmations, which I loved to watch as a kid) and he was Pip in this version of Great Expectations. Justine Waddell from Wives and Daughters was also in this adaptation as Estella. The last actor that I recognized: I saw Jaggers come onto the screen and I thought "Where have I seen him before", and it dawned on me that he was in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (though not my favorite Star Wars movie). Other than those three, I didn't recognize anyone else in this Great Expectations.

Miss Havisham (seated) with young Estella
and young Pip
The acting overall was good. However, this was one of those movies where you like a couple of character, and the rest you either don't like too much or they just irritate you. Characters like Joe and Herbert I found to be likable, and, at first, I found Pip likable. Pip kind of got on my nerves after he got money: I thought he started to spend money irresponsibly, but this was probably the angle that Dickens was going for to prove a point; maybe Pip was similar to Mr. Dorrit in Little Dorrit -- how Mr. Dorrit got his money and started to act like a jerk to everyone from his past, only in Little Dorrit, there wasn't much of a sign that he was running out of money while he was spending it while in Great Expectations there is talk of Pip running out of money. But back to my original point, before Pip became rich, he seemed a lot more likable. Other characters, like Miss Havisham, Estella, and Mrs. Joe, I couldn't like too much. Well, maybe I felt more sorry for Estella after she got married, but before that I really didn't like her. Miss Havisham seemed to be a little "off her rocker" (for lack of a better phrase), and Mrs. Joe seemed to treat young Pip unfairly all the time.

Since the story isn't really a happy story, you won't find much bright, colorful scenery as you would in other period dramas. Most scenes have a grayish tinge to them and, for the second half of the movie, take place in the middle of London. There are some scenes in the country, but they aren't anything spectacular.

Justine Waddell as Estella
The costumes were good! Estella's dresses were very lovely to look at; they seemed to dress her in a lot of red (at least to my memory). Miss Havisham had only one dress: a Regency era wedding dress. It would make sense for her to have Regency fashion: yes, she is wealthy, but she also hasn't left her home in a very long time and she is also older.

There wasn't much music to speak of. If there was a soundtrack to this miniseries, it would be composed of probably only one song: a very eerie song that seemed to pop up every once in a while. 

Overall: 2/5
I found this Great Expectations to be only tolerable. Some of the costumes were okay to look at, but not much else recommended itself to me. While the acting was good, I found a lot of the characters to be dislikable or irritating. I'm not quite sure if this version is accurate to the original story (though, from what I read on a synopsis, the ending was different), so if anyone out there has read the novel and can compare it with this adaptation, I would be thankful. Honestly, I probably wouldn't watch this version again, but maybe if a new version of Great Expectations came out (which, from what I hear, there are two in the making), I might watch it.

Great Expectations is available on DVD. It is a two part movie that runs all together for 168 minutes.


  1. Oh dear, I'm sorry it wasn't awesome. I've been kinda wanting to see it, since Great Expectations is my favorite Dickens (out of the ones I've read). Hopefully the ones coming will be better!

  2. The only things I liked about this movie wer the costumes and Justine Waddell (although I couldn't stand her character!) I had fairly 'great expectations' for this movie, but was disappointed....usually I like Dickens! But this one was rather depressing, and didn't really have a good end...

    And, contrary to most Dickens movies, there were only 2 parts in the whole movie that I thought were funny! These were: near the beginning where whatever old guy that was drank the stuff with tar in it (serves him right, he was being mean to Pip :P) and when some man called this old guy "aged" and said "How are you doing today, ag-ed?" in a loud voice because the man was least that's what it *sounded* like he said. ;-)

    Haha. Anyways.


  3. Charity,
    You might have a chance of liking it if it's accurate to the story: I've never read Great Expectations, so I'm coming at it without much knowledge of it (I knew only a little bit of it). There did seem to be images in there that didn't seem to be needed in there, though.

    I know; it was really depressing! Even the country scenes were bleak. I'm not terribly familar with Dickens (read a little of Little Dorrit, read A Christmas Carol, and watched Little Dorrit, Hard Times, now Great Expectations, and a couple versions of A Christmas Carol), I get the feeling that Dickens liked to put in comical characters, and here it seemed like there weren't enough. Like I said above, I've never read Great Expectations, so I couldn't say if this Great Expectations was accurate or not, but from what I know of Dickens, it seemed like the comical characters were missing. But I don't know for sure.

    Thanks for the comments! :-)
    ~Miss Elizabeth Bennet

  4. *were

    The others I've seen are: Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, and David Copperfield. I liked all of those. :)


  5. Melody, you make a good point...the book also has an ending that leaves you hanging a bit. I usually forget that, since I assume that the best happens.

  6. The book Great Expectations was bleak and the movie was shot in the county it was supposed to take place in. Satis House (Miss Havisham's residence) was EXACTLY how Dickens' described the house. The movie was not perfect, (the ending was a bit off, from lack of funds I have heard) but the visuals were not something my sister and I found wanting. In my opinion an adaptation should not be judged by appearance alone. Not everybody lives at Longbourn.

  7. Anonymous,
    Thanks for the insight! I kind of knew that it wasn't supposed to be a happy book, but I didn't know to what extent.

  8. David Lean's version of the movie is well worth watching. It just really captures the atmosphere of the book. I'm keen to see this version, though.


Thank you for visiting Elegance of Fashion. If you wish to leave a comment, please do. I ask that you refrain from bad language and are polite and constructive. If you are posing under "Anonymous", if you could leave a name, that would be great! I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem family unfriendly.

Thank you very much and please come again.