Monday, January 09, 2012


In a slightly unfortunate coincidence of timing, I had just started "Great Expectations" when I heard about the BBC adaptation. As there was significant hype surrounding it, I made sure to record the three parts, but didn't start watching until after I had completed the novel. I therefore watched the first part on Saturday night, and the second yesterday morning. I should find time to watch the third part today.

Sadly, it does not live up to the hype.

The first part was actually okay. There were a couple of the characters that were 'off', with Joe being the most significant - and given that his character is absolutely central to the story, that was a problem. There were a few scenes that were moved around, including one that had its tone entirely changed. And, there was a slightly bizarre change to the contents of the pie (mutton instead of pork). Honestly, I wouldn't have noticed had it not been brought to my attention... but having had that done, it's very strange.

But the second part was mince. Very, very poor. The changes to the characters continued to cascade, rendering much of the core of the story unintelligible. The dialogue just didn't work in several places. Characters who should have been friendly were instead indifferent, while characters who should have been unfriendly were instead monstrous. And the scene in the brothel was almost unforgivable.

The third part should be an interesting experience, but I'm not hoping for much. The damage done to the story is too deep.

The thing is, this is very well made, from a technical point of view. The production is absolutely glorious, and the cast is mostly good (Gillian Anderson is the wrong person for Miss Havesham, but her performance is otherwise fine). And for someone who hasn't read the book, or read it a long time ago but not terribly closely, I guess it's close enough.

But having just read the novel, watching the TV version is really quite jarring. Overall, a poor effort.

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