This Just In

Great Expectations is a promising title, but does not live up to its, uh, expectations, in just about every interpretation.

Dickens was clearly paid by the word, not the point. And the film versions aren't much better.

The 1982 animated version wins for shortest running time: 69 minutes. It, naturally, is oversimplified so children can understand the plotline, but admittedly my own understanding of major events benefitted from that oversimplification because, well, let's face it-- at 479 pages I'm bound to miss something.

The 1998 Gwenyth Paltrow/Ethan Hawke version benefits from the star names, but makes significant interpretive changes that were, according to the director, based on countless viewings of the 1946 version. Part of this was to modernize the movie, but it puts Ethan Hawke in prime candidacy for the Keanu Reeves School of Acting (that's a Kyle original), not to mention the stupid overuse of voiceover. Maybe that was supposed to suggest how unnecessary the tomes of narration in the original book were? And please, I love the color green, but this was too much.

The 1946 version is, well, from 1946. It's in period dress, black and white, and kind of boring. It sticks to the text closely, so the film is pretty darned long, but it does a good job of condensing confusing characters and essentially redundant scenes. Also, Pip is not very attractive, young or old. I guess that doesn't make too much of a difference, but I always imagined that he'd have something more than his benefactor's good will to make him into the gentleman he so desperately hopes to be. I almost feel sorry for Estella.

I saw scenes from a 1970s (I think?) PBS-esque version, which also did not seem exciting, and from another PBS version (or maybe the same one?) that reminded me of nature-safari shows-- you know, camera positioned far away, zooming in every once in a while for a closeup of the lioness chowing down on some fresh gazelle. Much more observant than involved. I'm sure PETA loves those.

Anyway, gazelles aside, I need to write 11 pages on two of the film adaptations aforementioned, and compare to the 479-page novel. By Tuesday.

Woohoo! What a phun wiknd!

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