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With reference to the opening scenes, compare David Lean's and Tony Marchant's adaptations of 'Great Expectations' and consider how the directors' choices may affect audience response.

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David Lean 1945 film and Tony Marchant 1997 BBC adaption With reference to the opening scenes, compare David Lean's and Tony Marchant's adaptations of 'Great Expectations' and consider how the directors' choices may affect audience response. 'Great Expectations' was written in the early 1860's, by Charles Dickens; it tells the story of Phillip Pirrip (known as 'Pip') as he turns from the young adopted son of a blacksmith to an educated gentleman. The two screen adaptations of the story that I will be comparing are the version directed by David Lean in 1945, and the BBC television version directed by Tony Marchant in 1998. I will be considering how the directors use camera, lighting, imagery, characterisation, sound effects, music and storyline development. In the in the book's opening chapter Pip meets a convict (Abel Magwitch) in the church graveyard, who orders him to bring him some food, and a file to get rid of the chains around his legs. The scene ends with Pip running home to steal the property. During the second chapter, Pip gets home, and the readers encounter Mrs Gargery, Pip's older sister, and her husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith. Pip then steals some brandy, a pork pie and a file, and returns to the graveyard. ...read more.


In return Joe treats him as a son. Joe is also shown to be physically different in each film. The David Lean production portrays him as he is described in the novel, 'a fair man' with 'curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face' and eyes of 'a very undecided blue.' Marchant however, decided to cast an older actor. I feel that this is because Pip's relationship with Joe is similar to modern children's relationships with their grandparents, rather than their parents. Having not viewed the entire Marchant film, I do not know whether there is reference to the deceased parents, but I noticed that the graveyard scene did not include the gravestone of Philip and Georgiana. In both adaptations, Mrs Gargery is portrayed in a similar way. She is very angry and violent, she hates having to look after Pip; she finds him a burden on her life, and her beating of Pip could be regarded as shocking. The David Lean film shows her mainly from the point of view of a bystander, watching her from a distance, rather than experiencing her wrath.. The audience do sympathise with Pip, but due to the figures being in the middle distance, they do not feel involved in her anger. ...read more.


Dickens had written from his own first hand experience of the era, so he knew what had happened. The descriptions of the characters in the text are very precise, and Lean has concentrated on creating the individuals that Dickens described. This is probably what the audience would expect. The post-war audience would want to look back on the age of empire in the way that Dickens did, but in the 1990's, a new approach is expected by the increasingly changing audience. Dickens is generally considered as boring and tedious, and the Marchant film attempts to give a fresh, 20th century makeover to one of Britain's most celebrated authors. To conclude, I feel that, considering the circumstances in which it was made, Lean's film was the more successful of the two. In post war Britain there was not a huge amount of money for making films, and there was limited technology available for the production. Materials were expensive and scarce, and could not be easily obtained. The film manages to make the opening sequence terrifying, exciting and tense, without using excessive violence or disturbing images. It manages to portray the novel in a realistic way, and his storyline is truer to the original than the BBC version. Sonya Shah Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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