My rating on a 1-10 scale: 3
Main characters: Philip "Pip" Pirrip, Miss Havisham, Estella Havisham
Recognizable actors: Gillian Anderson (Miss Havisham), David Suchet (Mr. Jaggers), Harry Lloyd (Herbert Pocket), Perdita Weeks (Clara)
Length: About 3 hours
Based on: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Time period: 1811 to 1830
Year it came out: 2011
Story: Pip is a young orphan being raised by his cruel sister Mrs. Joe and her kind husband, Joe Gargery. One day while visiting his parents graves, Pip comes across an escaped convict who threatens Pip into stealing some food and a file for him. Pip helps the man and the convict disappears. Sometime later, Mrs. Joe receives word that the wealthy Miss Havisham is interested in Pip and would like him to visit her. Pip meets Miss Havisham, a spinster who was abandoned at the alter, and her adopted daughter, Estella. Years later, after Pip had been training under Joe to become a blacksmith, Pip finds out through the lawyer, Mr. Jaggers, that he has come into a fortune but with a few rules, one of which being that he cannot inquire or guess who his benefactor is.
My overall opinion: I've never read Great Expectations, but I have seen this version and the 1999 version with Ioan Gruffudd. I didn't like either version, but I'm not quite sure which version I liked better.
The good of this version: I felt like I got more of the story and got to know the characters more than the 1999 version. Some period dramas take four or five (or even more) hours to tell the story (which, don't get me wrong, I actually prefer than a shorter period drama), but I felt like I got the story in the three hours that this Great Expectations took to tell the story. Although comparing the 1999 version and the Wikipedia page of Great Expectations to this version, there were some things that I noticed were left out (like Pip's friend, Biddy), but it wouldn't feel like something was missing if someone didn't see another version of Great Expectation or read it before.
My favorite character in Great Expectations: this guy! Herbert Pocket became Pip's room mate when Pip came into his fortune and moved to London. Honestly, Herbert was probably the most normal character in Great Expectations. He didn't have some dark past (unless getting into a fight with Pip counts when they were really young), he had good morals, he was an all-around good guy.
I liked Gillian Anderson's Miss Havisham compared to the 1999 Miss Havisham. I felt like there was a little more to her character. In the 1999 version of Great Expectations, Miss Havisham was 100% spiteful, but in this version there is more to her than that. This Miss Havisham seemed insecure and towards the end she regretted her actions towards Pip.
Another good point of this miniseries is the costuming. Estella had some very nice dresses! Though they showed a little too much shoulder for the time period, fixing that they were very nice dresses. Her dresses as an adult were mostly from around 1830. She looked very nice in those dresses.
Miss Havisham, of course, had the same dress on the entire miniseries -- her wedding dress. Her wedding dress was an interesting choice by the costume department. Most of the time, Miss Havisham is portrayed as wearing a non-Regency era dress, but here she is. Considering her dress is from the Regency era, we can pinpoint about how old Miss Havisham is. I go into it in my review of Great Expectations at Elegance of Fashion if you would like to hear my reasoning on it.
Now for the bad: I did not like this Pip, mainly because of his appearance. He looked too girly! I don't know if it was something the make-up artists did or what, but he just didn't look right. Besides his looks, I didn't like Pip very much after he got his fortune: he became very dislikable. I liked him much better as the child who went over to Satis House to play with Estella.
Okay, this might not necessarily be a "bad", but I didn't care for it very much. Spoiler The part I'm talking about is Miss Havisham's death. From what I've read of how she died, this version takes another route: instead of being lit on fire by standing too close to the fire when her and Pip were arguing, in this version, Pip is on his way home and Miss Havisham takes what appears to be love letters and her old wedding bouquet and takes them to the fire place where she individually lights the items on fire and puts them in the fireplace; one item ends up falling too close to her dress and lights her on fire; Pip, walking away from Satis House, notices the fire and runs back to help Miss Havisham (though too late) End of Spoiler
Okay, I know I said that I liked how Estella looked, but I had mixed emotions about this Estella. Her dresses were nice, but I didn't think she was all that pretty in some scenes. But ignoring that, this approach to Estella was an interesting one. This Estella seemed to actually care for Pip, though she was told not to. She warned him not to come back to Satis House since it will only cause pain. She warned him that she was going to hurt him. Spoiler And even when she announced her engagement to Pip, she seemed concerned for him. Also, for her marriage, she thought that she wasn't doing the right thing by marrying the cruel Mr. Drummle, but she was forced to go through with the marriage. End of Spoiler Not sure how accurate this "care" is to the Estella in the book, but it was something I liked.
Satis House... I know it's supposed to be run down, but was there supposed to be so much mold on the walls? It left me wondering how Miss Havisham and Estella could live there and not get seriously ill. It was pretty run down. But then again, it might be accurate to the book... The lighting that was also used was a bit bleak: a lot of the characters looked pale (and they shouldn't have).
So, overall, that is my opinion of Great Expectations. I wasn't too particularly fond of it or the 1999 version that I watched. Yet, it probably won't be the last version of Great Expectations that I will watch. Content-wise, there are some suggestive themes and a derogatory word used. There was also quite a bit of violence. If this was released in theaters, I would say that it would be rated PG-13. It is not a very light-hearted period drama, so be warned.
If you would like to read my original review of Great Expectations at my blog, you can find the review here.
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