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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Movie Review: Great Expectations {2011}

I often forget that this blog originally started out as a Jane Austen/period drama blog.  Based on my recent posts, no-one would think that.  I mean, topics such as Tangled, Frozen, random stuff, book reviews, and interviews with friends aren't exactly period drama related.  However, I have been watching a bunch of period dramas.  The first three seasons of Downton Abbey, Little Dorrit (2008), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982), Lizzie Bennet Diaries ( those count?), and Great Expectations (2011).  I want to review TSP sometime soon, but for today, it'll be Great Expectations.  There were things I liked about it, and things I didn't like it about it, as you shall soon see.
Ick.  This picture looks vampire-ish.
Great Expectations is my favorite Charles Dickens book.  It's mainly because 1) the quality of the writing, 2) Joe Gargary, and 3) Herbert Pocket.  Miss Havisham is insane, Estella is a figurative witch, and don't get me started on Pip.  Still, it's my favorite, and I hadn't seen an adaption of the book before this one.  In many ways, it was an excellent adaption, and in others, it was a disappointment.  I shall write out what I did and didn't like in lists, since I think lists are cool.  And easy to follow.
What I Did Like
  • There were a couple of recognizable faces in the cast.  Gillian Anderson played Miss Havisham, which I thought was interesting.  In case you didn't know, she also played Lady Dedlock in the 2005 adaption of Bleak House.  She must have a thing for playing tragic Dickens' ladies.  Also, Harry Lloyd (Will Scarlet from BBC's Robin Hood) portrayed Herbert Pocket!  It was fun to see him in another role (especially since, as I mentioned above, Herbert is one of my favorites things about the story) and he did it well.  They didn't keep in everything about him from the book, but there was enough to make me happy.
  • The cinematography/photography.  I love watching BBC period dramas, not only for the story, but the gorgeous scenery, and Great Expectations didn't disappoint.  Everything was gritty and real and colourful.  I would watch it again just to watch it.  Swirling dust, candlelight, swishy was all beautiful, even when it wasn't really supposed to be.  And there were all sorts of interesting camera angles, which make everything more interesting.
  • It was accurate.  For the most part.  I mean, they changed stuff to make the book fit into three hours (and make sense at the same time), and they cut out Herbert's strawberries and Birdie, but overall, it was a good adaption.  Not the best I've seen, but not the worst, either.  And it made me want to read the book again, which is always good.  Overall, I was satisfied with how the book translated to screen.
  • Um...I can't really think of anything else.  Except that the title sequence was both beautiful and frightening.  It won an Emmy (who knew that they gave out Emmys for title sequences?) and I found an interesting article all about the design input and such that went into it.
What I Didn't Like
  • The casting was off.  Herbert and Miss Havisham were the only two casting choices that I really liked.  Everyone else was wrong, in some way or another (mainly in that they didn't look like how I'd pictured them).  Estella was, if not ugly, then at least not beautiful.  Come on, she's supposed to break hearts everywhere she goes, so I would think that they would've cast someone a little prettier.  She was my biggest casting complaint, and everyone else was sort of meh.  The casting wasn't the best they could have done, in my opinion.
  • There was a random guy who wasn't in the book, but kept popping up in the movie.  I don't even know his name. *goes to Wikipedia and looks it up* Okay, his name is Orlick.  Hmm.  Anyway...he helps Joe at the forge and terrorizes Pip until Joe sends him packing.  Then, he lands work at Satis House, until Pip talks to Miss Havisham and sends him packing.  Naturally, he hates Pip now.  I guess he was in there to move the plot along to the startling climax, but he was really creepy and just felt out of place.  I think they could've worked things out without him.
  • Pip and Estella kissed.  Right in the middle of the story when he was escorting her around London.  That would not have happened in the book.  Ugh.
Everything else I didn't like had to do with the actual characters and story, rather than the adaption itself.  Sometimes I have no idea why it's my favorite book.  But it is, and this adaption did the story justice.  It wasn't amazing, but it was good enough.  I'd rate it three out of five stars.
Have you ever seen this adaption of Great Expectations?  What did you think of it?


Jennifer said...

I didn't get to see the whole thing - maybe another time? Anyway, what I saw made me want to read the book again so I am. :)

london.196 said...

Great post! I LOVE (the book) Great Expectations and also really enjoyed this BBC adaptation. But I can only assume you haven't read it in awhile because Orlick WAS in the book. A lot. (He was actually the main villain!) Other than that, I agreed with everything else you said. :) Glad to find someone else who loves this story as much as I do!

Eva said...'re right. I haven't read the book in a while, but I fully intend to do so now, so I won't make any more mistakes ;)

payton marie said...

Mmmmmmm, I love this adaptation. Of course it's the only one I've seen, but hush we won't talk about that. ;) I want to see the 2012 version as well... it's got some great actors in it!
I thought Herbert Pocket and Miss Havisham were wonderfully cast (well, duh, on Herbert ;) ), and Pip and Estella were just good. It's hard to like Pip no matter who's playing him, though. Oh, and I really liked Jaggers. :)
Personally, I thought Estella was beautiful, though she could have had a more flattering hairstyle. She has a very unique beauty though, instead of a celebrity kind of "flawless" beauty.
Maybe my opinion will change if I see another adaptation, but I really like this film, and I think it does full justice to the book. :)

Eva said...

Well, I'm not the kind of person who insists that all girls/guys in movies be drop dead gorgeous, but I *was* expecting a rather stunning beauty from Estella...when I re-watch the miniseries, I'll be probably like her performance more, because I'll be expecting it :)

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