Compare the Opening of two Different Film Versions of the Novel ‘Great Expectations’ Essay Sample
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Introduction of TOPIC
Both films are based on the novel by Charles Dickens. The older version of the movie was directed by David Lean in 1946, whereas the new version was directed by Alfonso Cuaron in 1998. There is a major time gap between the two films; therefore there are a lot of differences. In order to show both differences and similarities I will firstly describe the old version, then compare the difference and similarities to the new version. I will also be giving my opinions as well.
The first thing you notice about the older version is that it is black and white. There were actually colour films when the film was released, nevertheless the director decided to use black and white for effect. It was done intentionally, in view of the fact that the novel was wrote a long time before the film was made. The director wanted it look like the days the novel is set in. People currently do not like black and white movies, seeing that colour films seem more sophisticated, but black and white creates a scarier atmosphere as most things seem to be dark. An example of this is the graveyard seen. Everything seems to be darker, spooky and dull, which adds to the tension and atmosphere. Another reason why black and white is good, is that it makes you concentrate only on what is important and nothing in the background catches your attention.
On the other hand, Alfonso Cuaron’s version of the film is in colour. This makes the film more modern and advanced. It creates an exultant atmosphere and shows us clearly what is going on. The film is set in a place which can involve a lot of colour. It has colourful surroundings everywhere and makes the whole place look more spaced out and scenic. The director of course did not want to use black and white as these films are “out of date.” The colour can be used very effectively to make some things be conspicuous and others dark in the background.
In my opinion, I think that the colour film is better than the black and white. Everything catches your eyes so you do not get uninterested in certain parts of the movie and so you can see what is clearly going on. In the black and white version it is not always possible to see what is happening clearly and what is in the background.
The old version is set in Charles Dickens times, in a rural area. It is set in England, so people have English accents. It is similar to the book, and having it set in a rural area it can match the book very well. For instances, cows would not have been shown if it had been set in an urban area. It shows graveyards, gibbets and scary trees. This is all part of the setting, to show where Pip was brought up when he was poor and how the settings change when he grows up to be rich. The setting of the time is in Charles Dickens time. This is in view of the fact that the film is based in Charles Dickens time and the film is as accurate to the novel as they could get.
The settings in the new version are different to the old version. Firstly, it is set in Florida, America near a beach. This means the people will have to have different jobs and partly different roles. The place seems more free and calm, as there are lots of people around all cheery and lively. An example of the calmness is right at the beginning, when Finn is drawing his pictures in the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. The time setting in this version is a lot more modern. This is because the director wanted to show what the novel would be like nowadays.
I think the setting in the new version is a lot better. It has more space and freedom, whereas the old version seems a lot cramped.
The title graphics in the old version is poor. It is not effective as the names are only in black and white and the music is cheerless and dreary. The names do not come in any classy fashions or special effects. They are effortless and do not really grab hold of your attention.
On the other hand, Alfonso Cuaron title graphics has a more effectual impact on the viewers. It has special effects and colour. There are pictures in the background relating to the film. The pictures in the background are actually the pictures the Finn draws in the films. The colour makes an affectionate beginning for the film and the effects are also very good. The music is also very smartly done. It matches with the effect of the writing.
I think the title graphics in the new version are better than the old version because it is more effective and grabs your attention.
The relationship to the novel in the old version is very close than the new version. It is all practically word to word. The characters names are the same as the novel, like Pip. The people also do the same jobs as in the novel, e.g. the blacksmiths. This makes the movie more fascinating for the people who have read the novel as they now know what really like instead of imagining images in your head all the time. It also helps to know how and why Charles Dickens wrote the novel the way he did. The screenplay writer decided to get his story as close to the novel as he could.
The screenplay writer for the new version has taken a completely different approach to the script than the writer for the old version. He chose to only base his story on the novel, but changed the character names, jobs and dialogues. This is probably because the writer wanted his own words and different storyline. It may be similar to the book, like the criminal scenes, but not as close as the old version. He wanted to show the people what the novel would be like now if it had been written by Charles Dickens. He also had to change a few things around like the job of the blacksmith. It would not be appropriate to have a blacksmith in a movie that is set in the 1990’s.
In my view I’d prefer the relationship to be as close to the novel as it can get. It does not seem right to have a film named after a novel, but not made like the novel. It is also better to have the same character names and roles, as you will know already from reading the novel who they are and what they are meant to do.
The sequencing order in, both the old version and the new version is similar to the novel. It starts off with Pip as small boy and throughout the film he grows up and learns more. This is a most obvious way in movies but they sometimes start off with a grown up then go to his childhood.
The acting styles in the old version are old fashioned. The characters have to perform as if they were living in the past. This may have been challenging for them but it looks realistic enough. This shows how good their acting was. The style in which they acted also depended on their class in the film. For example, when Pip was poor it did not matter how he ate or dressed, but when he is rich he has to eat in specific ways and dress in certain ways. The characters like the blacksmith had also had to act in particular ways. He had to act like he was under the wife in class. The criminal also had to act scary to make the scene more frightening.
In contrast, the acting styles in the new version are contemporary. This is because the characters have a different role and it is set in modern times. Finn has more freedom in this version so can act more freely. He plays a less anxious
character in this version of the film. He is not as scared of the criminal or his sister. The acting
I think that both the versions have done a good job on the acting styles, bearing in mind the time setting of the films. The old versions acting are old fashioned and the new versions acting are modern.
The language is also old fashioned in the old version and more formal. The people have an English accent, seeing that the film is set in England. There is no slang or swearing used. The people talk more politely and with a lot fashioned tone of voice, for example Pip calls the criminal “sir” and his sister “Mrs. Joe Gargery.” This is a polite way of calling people, but these days not as many children would be so polite.
However, the language in the new version is more modern and lots of slang and swear words are used. It is less formal. This creates a bad atmosphere as there are always arguments and fights when bad language or a bad tone of voice is used. The people have an American accent, as the film is set in Florida. The reason a different type of language is used is because the film is made in modern times and the dialogues are not related to the novel. It is also set in a different place compared to the old version.
In my opinion, I think that the language used in the old version is better than the language used in the new version. This is because the language is more formal and everyone seems more civil and respectful.
The costume used in the Lean’s version is more outdated. This is because of the time setting of the film. The film is based on Charles Dickens times, so the costume designer got the costumes to match the time. The people also wear clothes according to their class. The rich people wear suits and dresses with a hat. The poor people have to wear whatever they can afford. Working class people will wear their uniform. An example of costume change is when Pip changes from a poor person to a rich person.
The costumes used in the new version are more “up-to-date” and latest fashion. People dress in more uncharacteristic ways according to the old version. Similar to the old version, they dress according to their class. Finn wears clothes that cheap t-shirts, whereas the rich people wear more expensive clothes. The costume is made to go with the time settings of the film. They have to dress in modern ways as it would seem inappropriate to have the characters wearing old fashioned clothes.
In my opinion, I think both the costumes used in the movies are very well done. They both match the time the film is set in and match the class.
The lighting used in the old version is more imaginative seeing as the film is in black and white. The lighting is used to show a person face more clearly. It would mostly be used in long shots when it is difficult to see the persons face. When lighting is used in the background with no light on the person, it creates a silhouette. An example of this is the right at the beginning, when Pip is going to the graveyard. There is long shot of him, but you cannot see his face. Even when no lighting is used it creates a very good menacing, illustration.
Alfonso Cuaron, on the other hand, needs a lot more of lighting to concentrate on other things as well as the main characters. His film is in colour so he can use the lighting to create a brighter picture. This creates a pleasant mood for the viewers. The lighting is used universally, including the background and foreground. Similar to the old version, he can use lighting in the background only, to create a silhouette.
In my observation, I think the lighting used in the new version is a lot better than the old version. This is because the whole place seems more stress-free and vivacious, whereas the old version seems to be uninteresting and monotonous.
There is a lot of symbolism used in the old version, mainly to create a daunting image. An example of this is the graveyard scene. The graveyard trees and gravestones symbolise a spooky and scary place. The convict is in the graveyard to add to the dramatic tension. Another symbolism is the gibbets. These are seen when Pip is running to the graveyard. Gibbets are where convicts were hung, so it creates a creepy image. Some other uses for symbolism is things like wind at the beginning. This symbolises that the film is about his childhood, as the wind noise seems to take you back in time. The book at the beginning symbolises that the film is based on the novel by Charles Dickens.
Less symbolism is used in the new version. There are a few things like the calm water and calm seagulls. This symbolises the calmness at the beginning of the movie. The space and children playing outside symbolises the freedom of the people.
In my inspection, I think that the symbolism used in the old version is a lot superior compared to the new version. It involves a lot of symbolism and does not need to have narration to describe what it means.
There is a reduced amount of variety in camera shots used in the old version. This is because of the quantity of facilities used in the olden movies. He had used basic shots in a less effective way. There were a few close-ups. An example of this is the criminal’s face, when Pip motions not to get him in trouble. There were also a lot of medium shots used. Most of the shots used in the movie are medium shots. Quite a few of the shots were long shots. An example of this is when Pip sees his sister from a far range. Tracking is used right at the beginning when Pip is running to the graveyard. The camera goes with him as he is running. There are a few high-angle shots and low-angle-shots. Both of these were used in the scene where the rich people come for dinner. The rich people look down at Pip at a low-angle, and Pip looks up to them from at a high-angle. This shows the power of the person. Pip is low class so he has to look up, whereas the rich people are high-class and can look down at him.
However, there is a lot of variety of camera shots used in the new version. They have used the basic shots like close-ups put also have panning, bird’s eye view shots and point of view shots. Close-ups were used a lot as it is a basic shot and simple. There were also a lot of medium shots and long shots. All these were very basic and less effective. The shots that made the movie more interesting were fast moving shots and sudden change of shots. There was a lot of tracking and a bit of panning used. There was also a bird’s eye view shot to show the space in which the film was set. The tracking was used when the boy was running, after the incident with the convict. There is fast moving tracking used and then a sudden change in the shot when Joe grabs him. The fast moving scene makes your heart race a little and brings in lots of tension. The sudden change makes your heart slow down again. The panning is used to show the sea form side to side. This shows how the sea is spread out and what can be seen when you look around. There is a point of view shot used when Finn sees the criminal under the water. The point of view shot shows what the boy saw when he went closer.
I think that the camera techniques in the new version a lot better because there is a better variety of camera shots used and it is used in more effective way.
Equipment used in the old version is very limited so the editing in the old version is not as good. There is less effects so the film is not as advanced. Editing is used in a simple way to create some efficient scenes. The editor made some parts change from one person to another and all the scenes fitted in well, but the editing was not as good.
The new version, however, has a lot more equipment used. The editing is very skilful and the film is good to watch. When one scene fades away the other assimilates. It is very constructive and makes the scenes look enhanced.
From my prospect, I think the editing in the new version is a lot better for the reason that the scenes are more professional.
Images in the old version are very eerie and spooky. There are not a lot of images used in the movie but images that have been used were very effective. One example are the trees in the graveyard. They seem frightening and murky. This adds to the scariness and the tension.
There are hardly many images in the new version. One example may be the scene of the sea. It is like an image to create a peaceful image in your head.
I think the images in the old version are better as they are more effective.
The sound used in the old version is from way back ago. Most of the music seems to be played by an orchestra. The music is very smartly done. When there is an interesting bit that has you in tension, there is a lot of fast music to add to the tension. For example the scene where they are chasing the criminals is very fast moving. The scene makes dramatic tension so the music is fast. Normal scenes either have no music or plain and simple music, but scary scenes have spine-chilling music to add to the disturbing atmosphere. The music in the old version seems to go with your heartbeat. When your heart is beating fast there is fast music.
The sounds used in the new version are used in an analogous way to the old version. There is fast music when there is exhilaration or anxiety. This will add to the tension and atmosphere. It is more modernised and technical. The music also has songs that have been sung by someone else. For instance, when Pip meets the mad lady she is dancing to a music which is a song. The music is very creative, reminiscent of the old version. The music seems to go with your heartbeat.
I think the music in the new version is better than the old version, even though they are partly similar. The new versions music is quite and soothing most of the time, whereas the in the old version it is loud and annoying.
The old version has a lot of dramatic tension and atmosphere. Parts, such as when Pip meets the criminal with a scar, have a lot of tension and atmosphere. There is a dramatic build up to the scene. Firstly, he remembers the fear-provoking words of the convict. Subsequently, he sees things such as the cows talking. When he reaches the graveyard there is a man there, who is not facing him. When he is there it is dark and macabre. There is also quite, slow music, which adds to the dramatic tension and atmosphere. Pip walks up to him slowly, which makes it more interesting. When he touches him and the convict turns around there is sudden dramatic movement and change of picture. There is also dramatic tension when the police are chasing the convicts. Pip does not want them to find the convicts as his secret may be out, therefore there is a lot of dramatic tension when the convicts are found.
Similarly, the new version has a lot of dramatic tension and atmosphere. They use a different technique to make the dramatic atmosphere.