Great Expectations is a novel written by the famous nineteenth writer Charles Dickens. In the following lines I am comparing two different film versions of Great Expectations, which my class have been watching. The first version is in black and white and is by David Lean. It was made in 1945 and the second version is in colour and was made by Tony Marchant in 1999 for the BBC.
Before focusing on one particular scene, it would be quite appropriate to have a general comparative look at both movies. As far as the use of different techniques and devices is considered, both film makers have used all types of camera shots, For example Close up shots that may show emotions and high angle shots that may show characters in a higher position or having a higher status compared to one another. Similarly light and shadows have been used effectively to create suspense in both versions of the movie. The sound effects used arouse the viewer’s curiosity that something is going to happen. A number of things have been used to enhance the symbolic significance of both the movies. For example a key or a locked door could symbolise secrecy. A stopped clock refers to some particular event, which took place in the past. The high and low gate of the house can indicate the higher and the lower status of their residents respectively.
David Lean has used many techniques to show how Pip approaches the Satis House and enters the gates. Tony Marchant has also used the same technique but when Pip approaches the gates, their ideas separate. Lean chooses to show Satis House from a long shot. On the other hand Marchant has shown many plants in front of the house, were the viewers can hardly see the house. Both of them have used the gigantic gates as a symbol to make one feel as though a secret is hidden behind them. In both versions, the film makers have used high angle shot of Estella from Pip’s point of. This is actually to make her seem more powerful. When entering the gates, Marchant shoots it from Uncle Pumblecooke’s view, looking through the gates gives one a sense of them standing behind the gates. However Lean enters the gates in a completely different way. As Pip walks through the gates, the camera zooms to a low angle shot of him looking at the clock that has stopped and then final focuses at the clock. Also, before entering the house, one could see the light coming from outside which suddenly turns darker as Pip and Estella enter the house.
Lean’s picturaisation of Estella leading Pip into Satis House is well planned as it gives the audience a part in the film. He uses the camera by following them in such a way that makes the audience follow with them. Like Marchant, He also made the house look very dark to create suspense as to what will happen next. On the other hand Marchant has decided to use a short passage to the room though he also uses the camera to follow them, which again makes us feel a part in the film.
Lean’s idea of entering the room is completely different from Marchant, as he has made Pip open the door much slower, creating suspense in what he will be meeting and the camera pan around the room. Then he instantly shows Miss Havisham. Marchant on the other hand has the door opened quite quickly and shows Pip walking around. Here both film makers have used camera pans. Instead of directly focusing on Miss Havisham, Marchant shows her reflection in the mirror, which makes her look quite strange. In both movies the rooms have been made to look like a church with many candles surrounding it. Lean and Marchant have both used the clock as a main feature to refer to the bad incidents Miss Havisham had experienced in the past, as they show the clocks one by one. When meeting Miss Havisham, Lean makes the camera pan around her showing her emotions. However Marchant uses a long shot of her.
I personally believe that the film made by David Lean is better than the one made by Tony Marchant. As I feel that Lean’s version of the movie closely relates to the actual novel written by Charles Dickens, as Lean has included almost all the features that Dickens has written in the original story of the Great Expectations. Besides that, Lean has very skilfully used the film making techniques, which livens the story on the cinema screen. The cinematography, music and sound effects, set designs and camera work well relate to each other. Also, the selection of the artists has been done quite carefully. The element of curiosity as to what would happen next keeps the viewer’s interest alive in the movie from beginning till end. All these feature of the movie make it an all time classic just as the greatest writer’s original novel is.