21 June 2002 | jonomichel
A great film
When David Lean directed Great Expectations, he used black and white, even though color was available. From the very first scene, you see that the black and white brings out a quality in the film, that wouldn't have been achieved with color. The black and white makes the film seem simpler than it really is. Great Expectations is a film, which ends very nicely for the characters, but their journeys throughout the film are not.
Pip sees himself for the rude snob he became, and Estella prides herself for being a heartless, ruthless bitch (for lack of a better word), and Miss Havisham is cold, and simply out to destroy men. The only person in this film who is not arrogant, or evil is the simple Joe.
I am far from a film expert. Infact, I only watched this movie because I am studying Great Expectations at school. However, after hours of in-depth discussion, there is so much more to this film than meets the eye. My favorite scenes are those in the first quarter of an hour. Lean's use of Silhouettes gives the search for the two escaped convicts a feel of war, and creates an atmosphere of tension very well. It also introduces the key characters in the story excellently.
As far as the story goes, I found it much easier on the head to watch than the book was to read. While it wasn't close in length to books i've read before (I think it's shorter than my little brother's "Harry Potter" books), it took me close to 30 hours to read. The movie compacts the majority of the book into 2 hours of film. The exclusion of characters like Orlick I have no problem with, as they are nearly completely irrelevant to the story. Lean explains the death of Pip's sister in less than 10 seconds, while the book takes somewhere in the region of 10 pages.
The acting is excellent. Alec Guinness was the only actor I had heard of, and that was only thanks to George Lucas. John Mills was interesting to watch, and after seeing the movie, I didn't know weather to like Pip for how he ended up, or to see him for the nasty person he had changed into (and come back from).
Only when watching it for the second time, did i realise the thought behind the direction. When Magwitch reappears, the atmosphere from their first meeting is created exactly; even the wind sounds the same. The sets were also incredible, and remade 19th century England perfectly. Ms. Havisham's `Statis House' was particularly memorable for me, as it is exactly how I pictured it from reading.
David Lean's Great Expectations set a benchmark in 1946 for great movies. It was nominated and won several Oscars, and is still enjoyed today. Every aspect of this film was enjoyable, it tells a great story, and if you look closer, you will appreciate the art of film making a little more, as I have.