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Analysing and explaining Charles Dickens' Great Expectations; Chapter 1.

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THIS WAS ALL WRITTEN BY CHARLIE MACGILCHRIST OF ST. BENEDICTS RC SCHOOL AND PERFORMING ARTS COLLAGE, DIFFIELD ROAD DERBY Media Coursework- Analysing and explaining Charles Dickens' Great Expectations; Chapter 1 In this essay I am going to "Compare the opening scenes of the two film versions of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations,(BBC's 1999 and David Lean's 1945,) and review how effective they are in creating an atmosphere of tension." The analysis of the films corresponds to Chapter 1 of Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' and I shall first of all inform you using a brief summary, of what happens in chapter 1 of Great Expectations: The story begins with pip, who introduces himself and describes an image of himself as a young boy; standing alone, mourning and crying in a church-yard near some open marshes. Young Pip is staring at the gravestones of both his parents who died soon after his birth. This tiny, shivering bundle of a boy is suddenly terrified by the voice of a large, bed ragged man, who threatens to cut Pip's throat if he doesn't stop crying. The man dressed in a prison uniform with a shaven head and a great iron shackle chained around his legs, grabs Pip and shakes him upside down emptying his pockets. The man devours a piece of bread, which falls from one of Pip's pockets, then barks questions at him. Pip tells him that yes, he is an orphan and that yes he lives with his sister, Mrs Joe Gargery, the wife of a blacksmith about a mile from the church graveyard. The man tells Pip that if he wants to live, he'll go down to his house and bring him back some food and a file, for the shackle on his leg. Pip agrees or rather promises to meet him early next morning, and the man walks back and disappears into the marshes. ...read more.


The 10th shot in the BBC's version is a close up of Pips face showing his emotions and nervousness, and him staring cautiously at the convicts legs. This creates tension because it tells us that the convict is getting closer and closer to Pip, and that Pip is trying desperately hard to keep away from him. Pip is clearly frightened of the convict, keeping an eye on the convict constantly, daring not to move, because he knows that now he's hurt he has no chance of getting away. Comparing this to the 10th shots in leans film, showing close-ups of Pip and the convict alternatively, we know that Pip is not hurt but hasn't had the chance to get away from the convict so all his fears of him burst out together, whereas in the BBC's version Pip is injured and has no chance of getting away from the convict even though the convict hasn't spotted him yet. This means that atmospheric tension is increased in the BBC's film due to the audience knowing that Pip will soon be spotted by the closer approaching convict, which increases tension through his ghastliness which is emphasised by the emotions on Pip's face. The tension is increased in Leans film however, because of Pip's mind being tormented and his imagination going wild, causing him to dash off quick and suddenly crash into a man he feared to meet most. Both Films clearly involve the emotions on Pip's face and the weaknesses they have in this situation which make them so vulnerable to the convict, creating tension in the atmosphere, because of the things the convict could do to Pip. The 11th to 15th shots it involves alternate close-ups of the convict and Pip as the convict gets closer and closer to him. It starts with the 11th shot showing the chains and legs of the running convict which suddenly stop because he's lost Pip and stops the sound of his shackle so he can hear and determine if he's still running or hiding as though he's spotted something peculiar and highly relevant to him. ...read more.


panting relentlessly after him, and the background music suddenly speeding up, speeding up my heart beat hence tension in the process. Overall I would personally consider the BBC's film to be watched by people who have or haven't read the book of great expectations, because of how well it starts off and grips the viewer, and uses many of the high-tech sound and visual effects to enhance the strong mood atmosphere it creates. Even those who have already read Great expectation or even seen Leans film will find the BBC's version exciting and very entertaining. The way the director fiddled and reorganised the film to make it more intense and exhilarating worked, and the speed of the shots of all angles and sound effects were impressive and most effective too. Although leans wasn't as intense or exciting as the BBC's version (probably because it's almost 60 years old and a bit out of date now!), it is still worth watching because it's a lot clearer and easier to understand than the BBC's since it's shots are a lot longer and the characters speak and move slower too. The BBC's uses flashbacks later on in the film, suspending us from seeing what the convict did to Pip when he captured him, which it think is effective at sustaining high levels of tension, which is another reason why I prefer the BBC's film version best. Leans is more chronological and faithful to the exact layout of the book, which is why I don't prefer Leans film because if you've already read the book (like me), them you're not going to find the film very exciting or interesting compared to the BBC's. One of the obvious reasons why I Prefer the BBC's is because it's much more up to date, uses many useful and effective filming techniques, (which there weren't many of back in 1945), thus is much more involved and stands out more as a 'film' than Leans does. Charlie Macgilchrist 10C English/ Media Coursework/ Dickens/ Chapter 1/ films ...read more.

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