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A Comparison of the opening sequence in two film versions of the novel Great Expectations

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Hashim Hafeez 10B 23/10/2002 A Comparison of the opening sequence in two film versions of the novel Great Expectations I am going to compare the first 20 minutes of two film versions of the novel, Great Expectations. One version is by David Lean 1946. The other version is by Alfonzo Cuaron 1999. In Lean's version and Cuaron's there is one big difference and that is that Lean's version is in black and white, while Cuaron's is in full colour. The colour projects a better effect because it is clearer and more understandable whereas the black and white version is less effective in my opinion. In 1946 black and white effects such as shadow and lightning was used and this was brilliant at that time, which is why it is not used nowadays because we have better visual effects, but in some films, it is still used today. In David Lean's version, the title graphics contain black, posh, classical writing and has a white background. There is also orchestral music playing which is light-hearted. This would have been traditional in that era and would show that the film is old and classical. However, A.Cuaron's 1999 version of the opening graphics is completely different by using water effects when the writing is appearing and has a green background with Finn's artwork when he's grown up. ...read more.


In Lean's version, Magwitch is dressed in Victorian prison clothes. Similarly, Robert De Niro is wearing an orange prison suit in Cuuaron's version. This tells u the audience immediately that the character has escaped from prison and is therefore dangerous. In D.Lean's version, there is sequential narration so the language is word for word and the actions are the same from the book for e.g.- " You know what a file is?" and, " And you know what a whittle is?" On the other hand, A.Cuaron's uses different language (not word for word) because he is trying to catch the present audience's attention with words that are used nearly every day of their lives. When it comes to sound effects and what we hear in Lean's version there isn't a big variety of effects used and remains the same throughout the scene, as in Cuaron's version he uses many devices to capture the mood of the scene. In Lean's version, the audience hears old-fashioned language and sound effects such as wind howling and trees creaking running all the way through. This creates an eerie atmosphere with the orchestra playing and gives a sense of creepiness and danger. Instead, in Cuaron's version, the audience hears calming seagull sounds and the fresh open breeze, which creates a false sense of security with a soothing effect. ...read more.


The handheld camera shot is used to create tension and it makes the audience feel as if they are escaping safely away in the boat with Finn. In both versions close-ups are used on the character's faces. In my opinion I preferred Alfonzo Cuaron's version to David Lean's version of Great Expectations, mainly because it was more appealing to people of my age and that t was in colour. In David Lean's version three good points were firstly that the storyline is interesting because it followed the book bit by bit, secondly, he chose to make the film black and white to make it more authentic, and thirdly, Magwitch gave a scary effect when playing the convict, to the audience. The bad points of this version is that the acting isn't as good, the language isn't as understandable and the sound effects weren't effective because they weren't invented yet. Cuaron's version was good because the present day language was understandable, secondly the scenes were more appealing to the present day audience and the camera angles were varied and were used creatively. The bad points were that the storyline wasn't as interesting because it didn't follow the book entirely. In conclusion In preferred Alfonzo Cuaron's 1999 film version of the novel Great Expectations to David Lean's 1946's interpretation of the novel. ...read more.

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