Well, Downton Abbey is over for another year... Now what to watch on Masterpiece Classic? Oh! Great Expectations will be playing soon! And so over a couple of weeks, I sat and watched Great Expectations. I had seen the 90s version starring Ioan Gruffudd and Justine Waddell, but didn't particularly care for it. But I thought I could watch this new version and see how it compares to the 90s version.
|DVD Box Art|
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. (Synopsis taken from my review of Great Expectations (1999))
There are some familiar faces in this miniseries that you may have seen in other period dramas. Miss Havisham is played by Gillian Anderson, who is also seen in Bleak House. Herbert Pocket is played by Harry Lloyd, who can been seen in Robin Hood and the recent version of Jane Eyre (and also the recent movie The Iron Lady). Herbert's fiancee, Clara, is played by Perdita Weeks, who was Lydia Bennet in Lost in Austen. And Jaggers is played by David Suchet, who was Melmotte in The Way We Live Now. Other than those faces, the rest of the cast was pretty new to me.
Miss Havisham is portrayed differently in this version of Great Expectations than the other version that I've seen. In the 1999 version, she was portrayed as being fully spiteful and always seeking revenge. In this one, she is still spiteful, but she is also a little insecure. There is a more sympathetic view taken of Miss Havisham in this miniseries. Spoiler Towards the end of the miniseries, Miss Havisham tells Pip that she wanted to hurt him and everyone else and that she was sorry for it and asks for Pip's forgiveness, which Pip grants. Also, the way Miss Havisham died in this miniseries was also different from the 1999 version (and from what I've read/heard, the book also). From what I've seen/heard/read about, in the book Miss Havisham was having an argument with Pip when she stood too close to the fire and caught on fire; even though Pip manages to put out the fire, she still dies from the burns. In this version, her and Pip have a talk (where she asks for his forgiveness) and Pip leaves; Miss Havisham proceeded to take what looked like love letters and her old bouquet, put on her wedding veil and proceeded down the stairs to the fireplace where she individually burns the letters and bouquet and drops them into the fireplace. One of those items happened to land too closely to her and lit her on fire. Pip, walking away outside, turns around to see that something has caught on fire at Satis House and runs back to help where, it is implied, is too late. Not sure how I feel about this interpretation other than I know it is different from the book. To me, it seemed like the film makers got a little artsy with this scene where they could have left the scene alone and do it like it was in the book. End of Spoiler Between this Miss Havisham and the 90s one, I think I like this one a little bit more maybe because I got to see more of her and understand her better.
|Various Characters from Great Expectations. From Left to|
Right: Abel Magwitch, Estella Havisham, Miss Havisham,
Pip, and Jaggers.
Of all the characters in this Great Expectations, the best character has to be Herbert Pocket. He was probably the most stable out of all the characters: no hidden back story, he cares for other characters, and he has no visible vices. Sure he got into a little fight with Pip when they were younger, but he grew out of it! He was probably my favorite character in the entire miniseries.
Pip... Not sure what to make of this Pip. I don't particularly care for the way that they made him look (more on that later). The acting was okay, I guess, but it didn't really stand out for me. Comparing this Pip to Ioan Gruffudd's Pip, I would say that they just about tie. Looking back on Ioan Gruffudd's Pip and this Pip, neither of them really made much of an impression on me. I will say that I liked younger Pip better than older Pip. I felt so bad for young Pip: everyone always mistreated him except for Joe Gargery, his sister's husband.
Great Expectations is a bleak story, so don't expect the scenery to be very cheery. Many of the scenes were filmed in a greyish overtone, which reflected the tone of the story. The problem with that was that many characters looked extremely pale, like ghosts, in some scenes. I could understand Miss Havisham looking very pale, but not Pip or the other characters (well, maybe Estella, but probably not). My personal opinion is that I didn't care for the grey scenery, but it does fit in with the story.
|Dining Hall of Satis House|
Satis House was extremely dirty and the film makers made of point of it. There was a lot of mold growing in the house and even puddles? Now, I haven't read Great Expectations, so this could be a accurate portrayal of the house, but it seems to me like there isn't anyone that could live in that house without getting sick. How did Miss Havisham raise Estella there without either of them becoming gravely ill? I am glad that in this adaptation they left out the rats crawling all over the tables like the 1999 version. *Shutters*
The costumes were okay. The fashionable ladies wore what looked like 1830s fashions towards the end of the miniseries, which leads me to think that the story took place over about 20 years (starting at 1812 and ending sometime in the 1830s).
|Miss Havisham in her wedding dress.|
...Anyways! Onto another subject!
|Estella and Pip after dancing.|
Estellas gowns were nice and pretty to look at. I do question some of their accuracy, however. Many of her dresses showed off her entire shoulder. For the 1830s, part of the shoulder was starting to be shown off, but I don't think it was as much as Estella was showing.
Well, I know I rated this higher than the 90s version, but I'm still not quite sure which one I liked better. With this one, I felt like I knew the story better, but the other one was a little lighter (did I just say that?). Throughout most of the miniseries, I didn't particularly care for it, but I will say that it did get better towards the end. Content-wise, there is some violence and blood and some suggestive themes. If it was in theaters, it may earn a PG-13 Rating.
Great Expectations is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is made up of three one hour long episodes.