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Compare the opening scenes of the two film versions of Great Expectations and review how effective they are in creating tension.

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Introduction

Compare the opening scenes of the two film versions of Great Expectations and review how effective they are in creating tension. The films that will be covered in this essay, focusing on the films' portrayal of the opening two chapters of Great Expectations are David Lean's 1945 and the BBC 1997 versions. The David Lean version begins with the first paragraph of the book, read by a narrator, then a dissolve into a tracking of Pip running towards the graveyard. To give a tense atmosphere the set is dark and deserted, and the sun is setting, casting a gold tint over Pip, and sound effects of the wind howling have been added. When Pip reaches the graveyard he begins to wrench out the dead flowers from his mother's and father's graves, but suddenly stops and looks around, making the audience wonder what will happen next. Sound effects of the trees creaking are added, and there is a close up of several trees swaying. This creates tension by letting the audience know something is going to happen, but they don't know what it is. ...read more.

Middle

The high-pitched background music adds to the tension, making the audience uncertain if Pip will steal the food. When he finally creeps down the stairs towards the larder, Pip imagines hearing someone whisper 'wake up Mrs. Joe', showing the audience how scared and guilty he feels from stealing from his sister. In my opinion I think the BBC version is the better in creating tension than the David Lean film. This film is structured differently than the 1945 version, and shows Pip's meeting with the escaped convict as flashbacks. I think this is more effective because the audience is forced to wait longer to see the convict, and because the scenes are in a different order, this makes the audience think more about what is happening. The best scene in creating tension is the beginning when Pip is running away from the 'mystery person'. The slow motion part was very effective, and Pip hiding behind the gravestone put the watcher on edge of their seat to see if he will get caught. ...read more.

Conclusion

I particularly thought the part when Pip was running away from the prisoner was effective because the audience don't see the convict's face, only the iron on his leg, and don't see him properly until the flash backs. As well I think parts of the David Lean version were not successful (e.g Pip falling over) and I think that the escaped prisoner is scarier in the BBC version. The BBC film would be more interesting to watch for the individuals who have read Great Expectations because the David Lean version follows the book exactly, only missing out a few minor parts. This would be boring if the audience have already read the book because they can predict exactly what happens, though, with the BBC version, it is very different and difficult to do so, making it more interesting. Nevertheless, the BBC version is harder to follow because the audience need to think hard and piece together all the flashbacks to understand what happened. After watching the opening scenes of both film versions of the book Great Expectations, the most successful in creating and atmosphere of tension is the 1997 BBC version. Lauren Houlton 10E Miss Ely ...read more.

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