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Great Expectation

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Compare how the suspense and atmosphere are created in the opening scene of two different versions of Charles Dickens Great Expectations By Baryali "Great Expectations" is a well-known classic novel. Over the years there have been many adaptations of Charles Dickens' enthralling story. My intent in this essay is to compare how Julian Jarrold, in 1999, and David Lean, in 1946, interpret the opening chapter for film and to decide whether they are successful in creating atmosphere and suspense. Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations in the 1800's. David Lean created his film in 1946. The setting for this film is "bleak" and "desolate" as the book states. The setting echoes Pip's feelings and how alone he feels without his parents. The establishing shot shows Pip in the background as very small in comparison to the vast marshland. The long shot is used to full effect showing Pip in the background as a tiny, innocent orphan. David Lean shows this primary setting to gain our sympathy. The clouds look dark and ominous, and the trees look like intimidating faces. We view these things through Pip's eyes, because David Lean wants us to feel sorry for him, so he lets us into Pip's imagination and draws us into his thoughts. These visions reveal how Pip is like a "small bundle of shivers" as the book describes him. Pip sees things which are not really there, and therefore we are shown how intimidated he feels by the empty churchyard. ...read more.


The yellow reeds add to the tranquillity of the first shot, and therefore relax the reader. At the beginning we have no idea what is going to happen and because of this the shock has more impact, when Pip begins to run. There is a synthesiser repeating a very high-pitched note which appears haunting. Just before we see Pip's head peep out of the cornfield, from the convict's point of view, we hear breathing and this causes suspense as we cannot see anyone. The mis-en-scene appears empty until the character suddenly appears, creating atmosphere when we suddenly see Pip pop out from in-between the corn. We wonder why he is running so fast and from what. From the way that this first scene is filmed it creates immense suspense. The camera moves quickly and this alarms us as we do not have time to see clearly why or where Pip is running to. Slow motion is then used to show great detail of the surroundings and also to create suspense and frustration in the audience as we want Pip to run faster to escape this thing which he is running from. This causes tension and fear for Pip amongst the audience. Tracking is used to follow Pip. Sometimes we see the chase from Pip's point of view, pushing through the corn and others from the convicts trying to catch up with Pip and hurt him. ...read more.


The isolation of Pip is tormenting because anything could happen to him now that the angry convict has him. Intrigue keeps the audience watching and listening intensely to see Pip. In this new version as well as the old one Magwitch is shown to be incredibly daunting and intimidating. The close-up shot is used to show what he is thinking and we can see anger in his eyes. Although no dialogue is spoken we can see from his fixed stare on Pip and his angry scowl that he intends to do harm to him, otherwise he would have had no other reason to chase him. Magwitch is dressed in old clothes and looks like he hasn't has a shave or a haircut in months and this adds to the reasoning that he is an escaped convict. Pip on the other hand looks neat and tidy like in the David Lean version and is like his character, innocent. Due to technological advances each film is different because of the time in which they were made. Each film is also interpreted differently by the director and therefore the decisions made are completely different. One thing which is certain is that Great Expectations will live on for many years after this essay is written and will be interpreted by several more directors. I think that David Lean's black and white version will also continue to be seen as a classic while Julian Jarrold with his psychological thriller approach marks the development of new, dramatic technology. ...read more.

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  1. Great expectation

    When Magwitch was first introduced, we were not given a warning. He just "started up from among the graves". The actual confrontation with Pip and the convict is sudden and is quite shocking, " Hold your noise!' cried a terrible voice, as a man started up" this quick, spontaneous meeting

  2. How do David Lean and Julian Jarrold use film techniques to influence the viewers ...

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  2. Compare the opening of two different film versions of the novel “Great Expectations”.

    It would mostly be used in long shots when it is difficult to see the persons face. When lighting is used in the background with no light on the person, it creates a silhouette. An example of this is the right at the beginning, when Pip is going to the graveyard.

  1. In the ending of the BBC adaptation of Great Expectations, how does the director, ...

    At this point we see Pip climbing the gate of Manor House. They use a range of camera angles and camera movements in this part of the video. They use a medium long-shot to show Pip climbing, they are tracking and tilting up at the same time to show Pip climbing and to keep a full view of him.

  2. Explain the important of Magwitch in Great Expectation.

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