|Staring Ioan Gruffudd & Justine Waddell|
I recently re-watched Great Expectations (1999) and realized I'd never done a review about it. When I first watched this film adaptation I had a hard time getting into the story and didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. But this time, probably because I've seen the longer 1971 BBC adaptation, I understood the story and was able to enjoy the film more. I still haven't read the book but hope to read it one day.
|Abel Wagwitch (Bernard Hill) & Young Pip|
Storyline: When the story begins Pip is a young orphan living with his strict bitter sister and her kindly blacksmith husband Joe. One day when he's visiting his parent's graves he meets up with an escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, who scares Pip into bringing him provisions. Abel is later caught by the police but Pip never betrays him. Pip's prospects begin to look up when he is engaged by the mysterious Miss Haversham to play with her ward the beautiful but haughty Estella. Pip grows up being trained as Joe's blacksmith apprentice but dreams of becoming an educated gentleman. His dreams come true when a mysterious benefactor provides for him to live in style putting him in league to court the lovely Estella. Who is Pip's mysterious benefactor? Why does Estella seem to like him one moment and detest him the next? Will he ever find out the secret of her parentage?
|Actress Charlotte Rampling as Miss Havisham|
Settings: Dark, dreary and very Dickenesque! Miss Havisham's rambling house is particularly well done - all overgrown weeds, cobwebs, and shadows. Outdoor scenes are are bleak and well done. Sets are filled with amazing period furniture, fabrics and props. Miss Havisham's wedding hall is particularly hasty, filled with mice, roaches and maggots that are a little creepy but to great effect.
|Lovely Justine Waddell as Estella|
Costumes:All costumes are in perfect keeping with the late Victorian time period. Great distinction is made between the poorer characters and the rich characters. Miss Havisham is stuck in the styles of her youth. Grown up Pip's high top hats, pattern vests and charming cravats are very well suited. Estella's gowns and bonnets are perfectly exquisite! And her hair is done is several very pretty Victorian styles which I've tried to duplicate. I only wish I could find more photos of her lovely gowns!
|Actor Clive Russell as Joe Gargery|
Actors You Might Recognize:
- Ioan Gruffudd as Pip - I've enjoyed post of this Welsh actor's performances and he did a wonderful job as the youthful and sometimes unwise Pip. His other period dramas include: Amazing Grace, Horatio Hornblower films, King Arthur, The Forsyte Saga. He's also great in the modern day films 102 Dalmatians and Fantastic Four.
- Justine Waddell as Estella - In the late 1990's sweet Justine Waddell starred as the heroine of many period dramas. Her portrayal of haughty flirtatious Estella is very different from her other roles but she does an amazing job in the role! Her other period dramas include: Wives & Daughters (my favorite!), The Woman In White, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1998), Mansfield Park (1999), The Moth and Anna Karenina (1997, which I haven't seen).
- Bernard Hill as Abel Magwitch - I knew I recognized this actor's face but was surprised when I discovered that his well-known role is Theoden in the Lord of the Rings films. He was very good in the role of the multifaceted criminal. His other period dramas include: First Knight, The Mill on the Floss (1997), Titanic (which I've never felt the desire to see), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and a few others which I hesitate to mention lest you think I'm recommending them.
- Ian McDiarmid as Mr. Jaggers - I've seen Mr. McDiarmid in several things but his is most recognizably from the Star Wars films as the evil Emperor Palpatine. He's very good at playing the "evil" characters and acts Mr. Jaggers perfectly! His other period films include: Rebecca (1997), Sleepy Hollow, and a few others. His Star Wars films include: Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
- Clive Russell as Joe Gargery - Joe is probably my favorite character from this story, he's just the nicest, humblest man! Clive Russell does a good job portraying the character but my favorite is still from the 1981 adaptation. His other period films include: Middlemarch, Oliver Twist (1999), The Railway Children (2000), The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003), Ladies in Lavender, King Arthur and Sherlock Holmes (2009).
- Daniel Evans as Herbert Pocket - Not a recognizable name but if you've seen Daniel Deronda then you'll recognize him as Mordecai and won't want to miss his role as Pip's friend in this film.
- Lesley Sharp as Mrs. Joe - Pip's bitter sister looked familiar to me and after looking her up I realized I had just recently seen her as Mrs. Bell in Return to Cranford. She's had small roles in other period dramas including: The Moonstone, Poirot: The Clocks, Inkheart and The Diary of Anne Frank (2009).
- David Horovitch as Matthew Pocket - Definitely not a well-known actor but I recognized him because I'd recently seen him as Isaac the Jew in Ivanhoe (1997). Other period films he's had small roles in: The Young Victoria, Poirot: The Kidnapped Prime Minister, and as Inspector Slack in five of the older Miss Marple films.
|Handsome Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Pip|
My Thoughts: Great Expectations isn't my favorite Charles Dickens story. The plot and mystery isn't as evident or as moving as in his other novels. I also don't find the characters as sympathetic as in other novels. But it is still an interesting story because it is Dickens. Even though Pip spends most of the story chasing foolish dreams and making unwise choices he is good at heart and learns through his story. In this way he reminds me a bit of a masculine counterpart of Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse. And even though Estella can be cruel you can't help but be concerned for her because Pip is. There are some sweet characters (like Joe and Biddy) and some comical characters (like Herbert Pocket and Mr. Wemmick with his "aged parent") that give the story more interest and charm.
|Pip (Ioan Gruffudd) & Estella (Justine Waddell)|
My Recommendation: Dickens themes are always interesting but sometimes adaptations can be quite dark at times so this isn't suitable for young children. There are a few thematic scenes: young Pip is treated roughly by his sister, there are two criminal chase scenes, a few sad scenes in a prison and one scene with fire and death. There is no offensive language or innuendo. This is a beautiful period drama and I recommend it to all of you who love Charles Dickens films (like Little Dorrit or Our Mutual Friend) and interesting characters.
The lovely video below shows screencaps from the film accompanied by a piece of piano music. Not made by me.
Have you ever seen this Great Expectations adaptation?
What did you think of it?
Have you ever read the book?
Do you have a favorite character from this Dickens tale?
Do you have a favorite character from this Dickens tale?
Very Truly Your's,