We all know the story of Great Expectations and no doubt most of us have seen at least one adaption for film or TV. The most recent adaption of the classic Dickens novel comes in the form of Mike Newell‘s 2012 visionary feast starring Jeremy Irvine as the titular Pip.
Alongside Irvine, who does a fine job of portraying the pretentious Pip, is half the Harry Potter cast including the versatile Helena Bonham Carter as crazy old hag Havisham. The film boasts a stellar cast but with the well known Harry Potter actors, also including Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane, and with David Walliams making an appearance as Mr Pumblechook it does feel at times like a BBC Christmas Special ensemble.
This latest addition to the multitude of Great Expectations adaptions adds nothing new, and is very much a condensed version of the TV miniseries that aired in 2011. In fact the miniseries is slightly better and the cast is more authentic and less Christmas special ensemble. There is very little difference between this film version and previous adaptions other than the aesthetic elements, condensing it into a two hour film doesn’t actually do the story justice and it seems to miss out a lot of scenes, albeit they are minor scenes but as is evident from the 2011 TV miniseries the story is worthy of a much lengthier and detailed exploration.
Aesthetically this adaption is wonderful and the settings and costumes and the flawless cinematography combine to make it a visual feast, however again it does not add anything new to the story and gives us nothing that we haven’t seen before in countless other adaptions. The locations even look very much the same as those used in the TV series, although it has to be noted that once again the TV series adaption did a better job of using the stunning locations and cinematography to create something visually beautiful and atmospheric.
Great Expectations is enjoyable, visually beautiful, well acted and it retells the iconic story well however it is simply yet another adaption of a story that has been reworked and adapted many times before. It’s high time someone either adapted the story and added something new to the mix, or just came up with something new entirely. The cast is very talented, however the decision to cast several actors iconic for their Harry Potter roles, and to throw David Walliams into the mix meant that the film didn’t quite live up to its great expectations and wouldn’t have felt out of place as some kind of charity ensemble skit for the likes of Comic Relief.