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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Director: DAVID LEAN

U.K. • 1946 • BLACK AND WHITE • 118 MIN


This superb Charles dickens adaptation is one of the best-loved of all British films. From the unforgettable opening onwards, as John Mills’ narration ushers in a life-changing encounter between a lonely boy and an escaped convict in a deserted graveyard, the storytelling never falters. At the time its theme of social mobility, developed in the story of young Pip who comes into ‘great expectations’, seemed to catch the mood of a post-war Britain casting off the dead hand of class snobbery and coming to terms with itself as a Welfare State. In retrospect, however, it looks more like another of Lean’s doomed love stories, where two young people are elevated socially but destroyed spiritually by the misguided vengeance of their benefactors: Dickens’ problematic happy ending here seems more like wish-fulfilment than reality. in an exceptional cast, some performances stand out: Alec Guinness’ Pocket, Finlay Currie’s convict, Francis L. Sullivan’s lawyer Jaggers, and particularly, Martita hunt’s Miss havisham—literature’s most famous jilted bride, Lean’s definitive frustrated romantic.
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