Great, greater, and greatest expectations?

Kris | Films | Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

There are so many big- and small-screen adaptations of Great Expectations that I have no intention of watching them all, but Paula and I worked our way through three excellent samples over the past few months:

Expectations ran high for the 1946 film starring John Mills (later of Swiss Family Robinson) and Alec Guiness (later of, um, Star Wars, among other things). Accepting that it was a film-length adaptation of a giant masterpiece, it was really quite good.

Then we moved on to the more protracted BBC version from 1981. Because this one was so much longer (being a TV mini-series), so it had more freedom to wander around. It was at least as good as the first, though I’d have to say the incarnation of Jaggers in this was was fantastic.

The most recent that we watched (I won’t say “last,” at least not yet) was another British mini-series (2011), though only three hours long. I’d say that as film I liked it best–though not because of it’s faithfulness to Dickens. It was the most intense of the three (by far), with hardly a single light moment and more subtlety and ambiguity of the characterization. It made me think about the characters differently–and it made me think about idolatry and desire and what has to die (or even who has to die) for love–real love–to flourish.

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