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Masterpiece: Great Expectations (U.K. Edition) [Blu-ray]

4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Public Broadcasting Service
  • Release Date: May 1 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0077PBPV4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,179 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

An orphan boy meets an escaped convict, a crazed rich woman, a bewitching girl, and grows up to have great expectations of wealth from a mysterious patron, in “Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens’ remarkable tale of rags to riches to self-knowledge.

There isn't an adaptation around that can compete with David Lean's definitive version of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, but this BBC-PBS coproduction has its pleasures. Though it gets off to a grim start with a violent skirmish on the moors, the proceedings become less off-putting once naive young Pip (Toast's Oscar Kennedy) grows into a man of some sophistication (now played by the dashing Douglas Booth). His adventures begin when the openhearted orphan helps out escaped convict Magwitch (Oliver Twist's Ray Winstone in fiery form), little realizing the machinations he has set into motion. Afterward, his sister, who resents the burden of his presence, sends him to live with the reclusive Miss Havisham (Bleak House's Gillian Anderson), a ghostly figure clinging to memories of thwarted romance. Miss Havisham means for Pip to entertain her haughty ward, Estella (Izzy Meikle-Small), with whom Pip falls in love, but the grown Estella (Vanessa Kirby) finds him unworthy and his guardian returns him to the forges of his youth. Fortunately, a mysterious benefactor steps in to save the day (David Suchet's solicitor makes the arrangements), allowing Pip to reconnect with Estella and to befriend Herbert Pocket (Harry Lloyd, an actual Dickens descendant), but dark shadows lurk around every London corner. If Anderson, who opts for a too-high vocal register, looks young for the part and if the final sequence deviates from Dickens's original text, director Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones) still provides a moving conclusion to a two-part series that becomes more involving as it unfolds. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens,is a macabre tale,of a woman who was jilted by her
lover,on her wedding day he took of with some of her money,was never to be seen again,
Pip” the young orphan boy wants to be like is brother-in-law as a blacksmith’s Forge.until fate
intervenes,twice actually,first by an escape convict (Ray Winstone)who ambushes pip in the marshes
and threatens him into helping him cut his shackles off, and soon after a wealthy reclusive,summoned
him to her macabre Satis House, Miss Havisham, played by the gorgeous and beautiful (Gillian Anderson)
this woman was so devastated by her lover, everything in the Satis House was exactly the same as when she
was planning her wedding,the cake,the way the table was set,all the flowers and the curtain with all it’s lace
and trim,even her wedding dress,that she would not abandon,she wore this dress all through the movie,wouldn’t
even comb her hair,and you can see all through the movie it’s getting blacker and blacker,the walls of the home
is starting to get molded,there is webs all over the place, Pip was supposed to be a playmate for her adopted daughter
Estella,pip falls in love with Estella,but miss Havisham will have none of it,she doesn’t want her to suffer the same
fate as she did, there is so much more to this story than meets the eye,I can’t give anymore away,I Love this Story,
Running at 2 Hours and 56 wouldn’t even know it,I was so caught up in the story,I almost didn’t had
time to take a breath. I see one person is referring this to “Gone With The Wind”are you crazy, not even close,
Another Masterpiece From PBS.
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By Reader on Sept. 24 2014
Format: Blu-ray
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By Lisa E. Dinel on July 10 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A wonderful take on a classic movie. Love it!!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Duchess TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 12 2012
Format: DVD
This movie had a good storyline. It is the type of story that is not a 'light' story you will have to watch it when you are really in the mood to do so. All the actors played well, and so you would still like this if you like movies such as Gone With the Wind or The Thorn Birds.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 456 reviews
89 of 100 people found the following review helpful
A Haunting Miss Havisham March 22 2012
By Charity Bishop - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Some books are just purely cinematic. Great Expectations is one of them, with all the elements of a perfect gothic story: the mad woman, the creepy old house full of cobwebs and bitter memories, the stretch of the forge and the sinister man who arises from the mud to slam the young hero to the ground and threaten his life. This recent adaptation by the BBC is a visual masterpiece, full of understated and wonderful performances, as atmospheric a tale as Charles Dickens could have imagined.

The solitary Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson) has not been seen by any of the locals in many years, not since she was jilted on her wedding day. Now shut up in her great old house, which still bears the ghosts of wounded memories in the form of a moth-eaten wedding gown and rat-infested marriage cake, she decides to enlist the assistance of a forge boy, young Pip (Oscar Kennedy), in entertaining her ward, Estella (Izzy Meikle-Small). Hoping to raise the girl to avenge the sins of her former lover, her innocent appeal causes Pip's family, which includes his unhappy sister, her good-natured husband, and their greedy uncle, to think that perhaps they might rise in society as a result of it. Miss Havisham encourages Pip to be ambitious and hints that he may have great expectations for the future, only to turn around and deprive him of the one thing he wants most, condemning him to the life of a bond servant learning the trade as a blacksmith.

But that is not the end of Pip's journey, nor his relationship with Miss Havisham... for seven years later, Pip (Douglas Booth) is informed by a London solicitor (David Suchet) that he has inherited a great sum of money. It requires abandoning his current life and becoming a gentleman in society... a plan that will reintroduce him to Estella (Vanessa Kirby) once more.

I have enjoyed this adaptation. It is different from the source material in some respects (and that certainly will give book enthusiasts reason to complain) but it avoids the over theatricality of the roles and instead chooses a far more natural approach. Gillian Anderson chooses to play Miss Havisham both as a woman fully aware of what she is doing and as such, dedicated to evil (though she may not truly know it) and as a vulnerable child in a mature body, forever stuck in one place with no hope of moving forward. The acting here is really remarkable from everyone involved, but particularly so from the young lead. His Pip is all at once a lovely child and one we feel deeply for, yet we are similarly fascinated with Estella and her grim companion.

While certain elements are dramatically different from the book (in order to create a more modern ending) and the second episode stumbles a bit in maintaining the pace of its other parts, this is an enjoyable adaptation that avoids some of the sins of its predecessors while also offering romantics an ending that will make them happy. It is not perfect but it is quite good, and well worth the three hours required to discover its mysteries.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A Strange New Dickens April 2 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: DVD
First-off: since there are those who object to comments made on a single episode of a series on PBS that is yet to be release on DVD, then be aware that this comment is made based only on Episode 1 of 3 Episodes of the new version of Charles Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Having said that, this first episode introduces us to a spooky, otherworldly atmosphere for the great Dickens novel. Sarah Phelps has adapted Dickens for this triptych presentation and the piece is directed with style and great attention to atmospheric detail by Brian Kirk.

The orphan Pip (Oscar Kennedy) works for blacksmith Joe Gargery (Shaun Dooley) and his Dickinsonian shrew of a wife Mrs. Joe (Clair Rushbrook) whose relative Pumblechook (Mark Addy) has designs on the future. Working with Pip is the evil Dolge Orlick (Jack Roth). Pip is wandering the foggy flatlands, comes across escaped criminal Abel Magwitch (Ray Winstone) and befriends him - an act that obviously bodes well for Pip's future. Mr and Mrs Joe receive notice from a Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson) that she wishes to have Pip, and the Gargery family sees a way out of the drudgery in which they live. Pip is off to Miss Havisham's cobwebbed home where she remains secluded from the world since her jilted wedding day. She `adopts' Estella (Izzy Meikle-Small) and seeks a playmate for her - her reason for bringing Pip into the strange home. Bad derring-does happen - Mrs. Joe is practically killed by Orlick, some strange vibrations occur in the Havisham household, etc. Seven years pass and solicitor Jaggers (David Suchet) visits the home and informs the household that Pip has inherited a great sum of money form an unknown benefactor and wants Pip (now the strikingly handsome Douglas Booth) to go to London to become a gentleman with great expectations, following in the steps of Estella (now Vanessa Kirby). And that is where we leave the group at the end of episode 1.

In this amount of time the moods of the flatlands and the poverty of the poor class have been beautifully drawn as has the bizarre home and disheveled mind of Miss Havisham. The seeds for the rest of the story have been sown and it is with great interest that the following two episodes will carry this version. It is recommended to use subtitles with this series as the various dialects are tough to translate for the American ear. But Dickens this is and a fine beginning. Highly recommended viewing. Grady Harp, April 12
88 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Very little expectations... April 9 2012
By M. Secaur - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
As an ardent fan of Charles Dickens, I am always open to any film adaptation in this day and age of his work, and have to admit that I was quite excited for this new 2011 production of "Great Expectations". While not my favorite of his novels, it nonetheless has a plethora of possibilties when dramatized for the screen, be it big or small. Nonethless, after viewing, I couldn't help but feel a trifle let down.

I've watched several BBC/Masterpiece productions and found them all to be enjoyable, but this one was a chore to watch, even in installments. It wasn't just the rushed pacing, the artsy, color-drained cinematography that feels more appropriate for a horror movie than Dickens, the brutal watering down of his brilliant prose into bland, almost inanely simplified dialogue, or the dropping of important chunks of the novel in favor of inserting newly-imagined scenarios that add nothing but smuttiness to the story (i.e., the inappropriate and unnecessary brothel scene, or the completely travestuous "lake" moment between Pip and Estella) that made me give this film one star; it was the fact that it just felt too modern to be a really good adaptation of Dickens, and that the very spirit of the book was conspicuously absent throughout the entire three hours.

While it's something very hard to explain, it simply never struck me as feeling "authentic", either in a historial sense or a dramatic one. Everything felt forced, like the filmmakers didn't really believe in what they were creating, and the actors just wanted to get through their lines as quickly and painlessly as they could. Honestly, I might never have known this was supposed to be "Great Expectations" aside from the occasional appearance of Miss Havisham. Sure, the sets look authentic and the costumes are beautiful, but the script feels like a soap-opera styled parody of the book, with acting to match. Douglas Booth, who plays Pip, along with Vanessa Kirby as Estella, never seem to really grasp that they are supposed to be living in the 19th century instead of modern-day, and give stilted, unoriginal performances. I did mildly enjoy Gillian Anderson as the quite mad and ethereal Miss Havisham, though I think Helena Bonham-Carter can do better.

One thing that Charles Dickens' books are well known for is their wittiness and whimsical humour. Even his darkest tales have pepperings of light scattered throughout to lift the mood and create a style uniquely his own. This film has left those credos by the wayside and opted for a far more bleak, shadowy, and humourless rendition, with nothing left but dull and depressing scenes of boring, colorless characters with nothing even remotely interesting to do or say. Character development doesn't happen as often as it should, and in consequence leaves you with little emotional connection to the characters themselves by the end of the film. Pip and Estella's complicated relationship is reduced to a cliched collection of invented scenes, and that between Joe Gargery and Pip, both as a youngster and as an adult, is almost nonexistent.

As I mentioned before, the biggest con for me was the fact that the dialogue has been so oversimplified that you might not know if it was Dickens or not. With other BBC productions, at least of few quotes come verbatim from the pages of the book, helping to bring the world of Victorian England to life, but not so here. The glorious, fanciful language of the time is diminished so heavily that it might just as well been written yesterday instead of in 1860. Without his words, Dickens just isn't Dickens; but apparently Sarah Phelps, the screenwriter, didn't quite comprehend that.

A bit too artsy and modern for my own taste, I was disappointed in the BBC for allowing this to be their Charles Dickens bicentennial production, knowing that they can do and have done much better than this in the past. There is no doubt that this film will appeal to many people, but as for myself, I prefer to wait for Mike Newell's upocoming cinematic adaptation, for which I have much greater expectations.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Your Eyes Have Been Opened and Now You Cannot Close Them..." June 14 2012
By R. M. Fisher - Published on
Format: DVD
Great Expectations is my favourite Charles Dickens novel (at least of the ones I've read) mainly because he endeavoured to subvert many of his trademark plots and stock characters. What results is one of his most intriguing and suspenseful plots, as well as a cast of unforgettable characters, namely a protagonist that goes through serious character development, and two haunting female leads that could easily have carried a novel by themselves.

Orphaned Pip leads an uneventful life, in which the most exciting thing to ever befall him is running across an escaped convict on the moors that surround his house. Out of fear he brings the man a file; out of kindness he also brings him a bit of mutton pie. When the man is recaptured, he doesn't give Pip's complicity away. Though Pip never forgets the man, there are soon more interesting developments to monopolize his attention: the eccentric and reclusive Miss Havisham has asked for Pip's presence at her ramshackle Satis House, to serve as a playmate for her adopted daughter Estella. Eager to change the family's fortunes, Pip's sister sends him along, though her husband Joe has reservations.

Years pass and Estella is sent to London to become a lady, whilst Pip is apprenticed to Joe as a blacksmith. And then, another surprise: a lawyer appears out of nowhere to bestow upon Pip a fortune, telling him that a secret benefactor wishes him to go to London and become a gentleman. Off he goes, determined to become worthy of Estella's hand in marriage. But naturally, there is more than meets the eye to Pip's abrupt change of fortunes, and throughout the novel Dickens plays with the familiar tropes of the Mysterious Benefactor and the Rags to Riches plot, leading Pip to heartbreak and self-discovery before ending on a rather ambiguous note.

Such a story makes for great cinema, and so far the novel has been adapted into so many versions (in 1946, 1974, 1998, 2004, 2005, as well as a forthcoming one directed by Mike Newell starring Helena Bonham Carter) that it's difficult to keep track of them all. Rich in Gothic imagery (the desolate moors, the embittered mad woman, the criminal underbelly, the forsaken house) and surprising twists, this version of the tale certainly makes the most of its evocative atmosphere. Everything seems to have been shot through a blue filter or else is awash with mist, lending the entire production a cold and bleak air.

Stand outs among the cast are Oscar Kennedy and Izzy Meikle-Small as the young Pip and Estella. They're so beguiling in their roles and performances that it was a disappointment when the inevitable switch to their adult selves came. Couldn't we have just stuck with the kids? Unfortunately Douglas Booth as Pip looks ridiculously modern in the role (he's a dead ringer for Robert Pattison), and Vanessa Kirby as Estella is rather bland. Estella makes for a fascinating character in the book, so much so that you often find yourself wishing that *she* was the main character, and is a gift to any actress, whether they choose to play her as an ice-queen or a vulnerable girl-child. Kirby simply isn't given enough time or material to present Estella as anything other than a rather lost-looking doll. Harry Lloyd as Herbert Pocket and Shaun Dooley as Joe Gargery bring some much needed levity to the proceedings, and David Suchet makes for a striking Jaggers (though it's funny to hear him without the Poirot accent!)

But any viewer settling down to watch "Great Expectations" will naturally be most interested in its two most memorable characters: Magwich and Miss Havisham. Ray Winstone puts on an admirable show as Magwich, showing his affection for Pip without losing the inherent threat of violence that he poses to those around him, and Gillian Anderson has a unique take on Miss Havisham. It was with interest that I noticed some complaints that she was too young to play the role, when in actuality, Dickens is never clear on Miss Havisham's exact age. Because of her circumstances, many can't help but picture Miss Havisham as an elderly woman, when in fact her contemporary Compeyson is described in the text as a relatively young-looking man - it logically follows that Miss Havisham is too. As such, I wasn't bothered by Anderson's age (in fact, I think it's closer to Dickens's intent than most people realize) and her performance of Havisham as a ghostly, child-like figure with a lisp and a lack of understanding as to what she's really doing is intriguing. There are a few moments of sharp and cunning clarity, such as when she whispers to Estella: "practice on him..." or when she looks at Pip with a sort of grotesque fascination, as a cat might look at a mouse before playing with it, but for the most part, one gets the sense that her mind is too undeveloped for her to really be held accountable for her actions. Anderson also adds a habit of scratching or pinching the skin at the back of her hand (scratching to denote agitation, pinching for excitement), suggesting a woman who suffered from some sort of mental affliction long before she was jilted at her wedding. Anderson's take may divide viewers, but I enjoyed the performance, and it's certainly the most memorable part of the production: her bare-footed glide, her gradually degenerating appearance, the way she disappears and reappears like a ghost - it all makes for a great character study.

It strikes me that any retelling of "Great Expectations" will either focus on the love story between Pip and Estelle, or the Magwich storyline. Most concentrate on the former, but this one definitely favours Magwich, to the point where (as I mentioned earlier) Estella is given rather short shrift. We learn very little about her, and Miss Havisham's plans for her are never quite spelt out to their devastating conclusion. Once past childhood, it's difficult to understand why Pip is so besotted, and Kirby's low-key performance gives off the sense that she's being played as a young Miss Havisham - already a ghost despite being in the bloom of youth. Expect no cruel or vivacious heartbreaker here; this Estella simply goes through the motions whilst Pip is busy with the more important plot developments elsewhere.

The production can't help but add some gratuitous "modern" sensibilities, such as a scene in which Drummond takes Pip to a brothel and mocks him for his virginity, and a scene in which oh-so-oppressed Estella kicks off her shoes and stockings and goes wading in a lake while her chaperone sleeps, and - as is to be expected - these deviations from Dickens's text do the adaptation absolutely no favours.

Yet this is still a fine adaption and I enjoyed it. It moves at a brisk pace, it ticks all the important plot-points, it's well acted by all (even if the leads a tad dull) and it's sensible in focusing on what's important whilst discarding some of the more extraneous bits of Dickens's novel. I was sad to lose some of the supporting cast as well as Dickens's own dialogue (let's face it, no matter how good the adaptation, it'll never hold up to the original novels) but it's ultimately an elegantly filmed and performed bit of entertainment.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Blah April 11 2012
By Hobbit Wannabe - Published on
Format: DVD
Just blah. I only watched the first episode; after reading the synopsis for the second, I was horrified at some of the changes they made. The first installment was just dull, since they left out most of the "good stuff." I can live with dull. What I can't live with is when they take out the good stuff and replace it with "sensational" or, in other words, inappropriate, junk.

The book is my favourite Dickens novel, and I have practically memorized it. I'm hoping the film version to be released later this year is better (although what the book really needs is the same five hour-long, lavish, detailed attention A&E's Pride and Prejudice received).

In short, I would definitely NOT recommend this.