Friday, January 20, 2017

Great Expectations (1946) Movie Review

Great Expectations (1946)
Rent Great Expectations on Amazon Video
Written by: Charles Dickens (by), David Lean & Ronald Neame & Anthony Havelock-Allan (adapted for the screen by) and  Kay Walsh and Cecil McGivern (adapted for the screen with)
Directed by: David Lean
Starring: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Tony Wager, Alec Guinness
Rated: --

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

With an unknown benefactor, lowly orphan Pip becomes a gentlemen living idly on the mysterious wealth while his love for Stella remains unrewarded.

This is a classic story of infatuation and class divide wrapped in a mystery. While the acting can be theatrical at times the story more than makes up for it.
While you've probably experienced the story, if you haven't seen this movie, it's worth checking out.
Watch it.

I'm familiar with the story and I had seen Alfonso Cuarón's 1998 update with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. While older classics can feel dated because the concepts they introduced have been run into the ground and stripped of all novelty, this movie doesn't suffer that fate. The story is just that good.

This book is the only time Dickens ever changed an ending to one of his novels. It's the age old tale of unrequited love. A boy loves a girl that doesn't like him back.

This opens with an escaped convict coercing Pip to provide food and tools. Pip's a good kid from a working class family that can have clouded vision. He's later invited to a play date with the spinster Miss Havisham's grand daughter Stella. While beautiful, Stella is mean. Stella is cruel as her grandmother has taught her. Havisham was left on the alter and has a vendetta against all men. She grants Stella permission to break Pip's heart. That doesn't stop Pip from falling for her. While it's pure lust, he's smitten.

The movie moves forward a few years and Pip is becoming a gentleman, thinking Havisham is funding his venture to the city. Alec Guinness plays his roommate, charged with teaching Pip manners.
No reasonable person would assume Havisham is funding Pip, but love and thus Pip are unreasonable.
Pip thinks it's Havisham because he secretly hopes the spinster wants him to be with her grand daughter. Even after all the years, he's never gotten over his first love. His life work is to become worthy of her, to become a gentleman.

This has a twist and a turn, which can often be annoying when they are poorly plotted surprises. It's not a cheap trick in this movie, but an integral part of the plot. It's a well done conclusion, and I can't imagine how amazing it must have been in 1946. It had to have been a novel twist. While so many movies try to make the twist the conclusion, Great Expectations still have more story to tell.

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