Jan 2, 2012

Great Expectations[2011] BBC

BBC1 has unveiled another great miniseries, this time adapting Charles Dicken's classic novel, Great Expectations. The 3 episodes aired on the 27th, 28th and 29th of December 2011.

Episode 1

The story follows Pip, a boy who, in his way back home from the cemetery where his parents were burried, is attacked by an escaped prisoner and forced to help him; Pip obliges and brings the man food and tools to set him free, but the man is caught, and when it's time to admit, he does not reveal his "angel". After this incident, Pip is called at the house of miss Havisham, a peculiar lady who lives in strange conditions with her adopted daughter, Estella. The three of them spend time together, but after a while, the boy is bought off and restricted from the house. The first part of the miniseries ends with the surprising news that Pip, now a young man, has a benefactor and was rewarded with a fortune; he must leave for London immediatly and live a proper young man's life.

This episode set the mood of the film, a dark one, but fascinating and beautiful none of the less. The cinematography is spectacular, the costumes are perfect and the performances are, quite possible, among the best I have seen- everyone delivers, although Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham looks like she is trying too much; I think Helena Bonham Carter will slay this part when the big screen adaptation comes to cinema. Young Estella is intriguing, but a little odd-looking for her age, and Oscar Kennedy as young Pip is adorable and rightfully portrays the part. Also, a nice surprise seeing Mark Addy as Pumblechook (all hail King Baratheon). I do think some parts were a little rushed into and out of, but overall, it is a lovely start of the adaptation of this classic English novel.

"Your eyes have been opened and now you cannot close them"

Episode 2

The story:  Pip arrives in London and Mister Jaggers installs him into a new house, having Herbert Pocket introduce the young man to the customs of London. After a while, as Pip settles in, he even receives a visit from Joe Gargery, his uncle, wanting know more of him and we are first introduced to Drummle, during a visit of Pip to mister Jaggers. Several key situations occur: the young man visits to miss Havisham with Estella, where he learns more about the family and the women, he helps Herbert to get a job without him knowing, his relationship with Estella becomes much more interesting, and, in the end, he finds out who his benefactor is, after he receives an unexpectated visit from him a night before reaching his age: it is Abel Magwitch, the man he helped rescue all those years ago.

I must confess I am loving the characters and the actors portraying them, so far. Grown up Herbert Pocket shows up and Harry Lloyd plays him- I love Harry, he has such a pleasant, yet powerful presence to him; one other spectacular part from him is in Game of Thrones. Clara, his fiancee, is a familiar face, but I can't say where from exactly. As for Gillian Anderson, she gets better and better with every scene and I am really starting to like her as her character slips into madness more and more.

One special mention has to go to the lake scene: everything was perfect- the costumes, the lighting, the direction, the performances, absolutely beautiful.

The second episode, as a whole, is as superb as the first one, but I keep hoping something great, some action will occur. If episode 1 was about introducing Pip and his family, now episode 2 is about introducing the London crowd. Maybe, with the appeareance of Magwitch, things will change.

Episode 3

The third episode begins with Pip desperate try to prove that Magwitch is not his benefactor- he goes to Satis House, only to find out that Estella is about to marry Drummle. The next 40 minutes contains so many beautiful, unexpected situations, full of twists and turns; I don't want to ruin the fun for you. I will just say that it is worth your time and the two episodes that I said were preparing for something bigger, proved their importance.

As always, there were some memorable moments:
- the scenes between Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham- the dissapointment, learning that not only Estella was just "practicing" on him, but also that Miss Havisham never had his best intentions- the moment where he calls him "a mere boy from the forge" is heartbreaking. Evrything about those scene is stunning and almost perfect
- Miss Havisham  (in horrible conditions both physically and mentally; after the last meeting with Pip) ending her life
- Pip confessesing the truth about his daughter to Abel
- The very last scene, at the Satis House, between Pip and Estella

"I told you I can make you cry...if only you'd listened"

To conclude, I must say that I was mesmerized by this adaptation- it almost achieved perfection in every category and I loved it! It is a true work of art and you should see it, even if you don't like period drama. Watch it for the performances, for the beautiful cinematography, for the costumes, for the story, for Gillian Anderson and Douglas Booth, just do it!


  1. Haven't seen the new BBC adaptation.Its a great story, can understand you enjoyed watching!

    The 1946 film to me is amazing, really captures the atmosphere of 1800s. You can check my review here, if you want. I give my interpretation on the brilliant title:


  2. Thanks for the link, you sparked my interest for the 1946 version, I will check it out soon!

  3. I'm soo seeing this tomorrow. That's all.

    Okay not only- have you seen Sherlock?

  4. You should definitely see it soon! No, I haven't seen Sherlock- is it the new one with Cumberbatch? considering the quality of this show, I might give Holmes a try

  5. Yes it is. It's absolute brilliance! Cumberbatch and Freeman are both spectacular.

  6. Although it looks stunning, it is not my cup of tea. Great article though Diana

  7. I've always wanted to see the David Lean version, but I'll be crazy and watch this one first. I didn't even know when this was coming out, but I'll probably start watching it tonight. Thanks Aziza!

  8. @Scott: Ok, I forgive you on this one, but you should watch more classic movies this year, ok? or at least, olser the 2010 :)
    @Max: Great, let me know if you like it!

  9. I'm definetly going to have to see this one, I love the story and I can't wait for next year's film with Helena Bonham Carter. I'm a little worried about Anderson playing Havisham, though, I don't think she is the right choice.

  10. @Sati: I was worried about Anderson, too, at the beginning, but honestly, she was fantastic, especially in the second and third episodes. HBC might be good, but she may take it over the top- we shall wait and see!

  11. is there ever going to be a 4th episode?

  12. is there ever going to be a 4th episode?