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I have never read Dickens' "Great Expectations," but I can tell you
that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Let me clear
something up right away. This is not a b-movie, a cheesy remake, or even a
remake. It is my understanding that this movie is loosely based on the
Dickens' book, but that it does follow the themes, just not the exact story.
This is a great movie, it is a modern classic.
The acting is excellent. Ethan Hawk is amazing, he really is a top
notch actor. He's not just a young sexy leading man type who gets by on
looks and a touch of acting (as I had previously thought since he looks like
the typical Matt Dillion or a Lowe type). Gwyneth Paltrow is absolutely
stunning and plays her role perfectly. De Niro has a nice, powerful role,
and duh, he's awesome in this movie. Anne Bancroft was hauntingly superb in
this movie, you'll see what i mean. Hank Azaria and Chris Cooper play great
supporting roles. I think this movie was probably Chris Cooper's
breakthrough role, and he was great.
The movie was breathtakingly shot. The cinematography was better then even the recent crouching tiger hidden dragon. The movie gives you a feeling of awe and mystery because of it's settings. It's a work of art. The writing...based on a classic Dickens novel..come on it is superb. No cheesy lines; yes there are heartfelt beautiful lines, but none cheesy or over-emotional or over the top dialogue. The writing and actors clicked perfectly. Need I say the story was both interesting and intriguing (based on Dickens' Great Expectations). It may be loosely based or not, but it was GREAT.
The directing pulled everything together and added some nice tricks to make this movie a Modern classic. And the way music was used to intensify this movie and when and where it was used was absolutely brilliant, and i suppose this is the director's job, WELL DONE.
The music was almost as important as the acting in this movie. The musical score for this movie is one of the best I have ever encountered. It makes this movie move you. And just as good are the music (songs) the movie uses, how and when they are used. This is one of the few movies that thrives on sound (music) to help create it's mood, power and emotion and it is done masterfully.
This movie is a masterpiece. Beautiful on the eyes, ears, heart, and mind. I feel sorry for you if you don't ever get to experience this movie, it is a MUST see.
It is always going to be a challenge to take a classic novel and turn it
into be a movie that will satisfy everyone, especially when the story is
being changed and adapted to fit a modern setting. If what you want to find
from this movie is an exact translation of the book you will be
I personally loved this movie, it is completely stylish thanks to a brilliant soundtrack and the gorgeous leads Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (who is cast perfectly as the beautiful ice queen). They are helped along by a strong supporting cast of Anne Bancroft (wonderfully eccentric as Ms. Nora Dinsmoor), Chris Cooper and Robert DiNero.
The problem, however, is that in trying to fit a story as long and complicated as Great expectations' into a 90 minute movie you loose a lot of the development of the characters necessary to identify and have an emotional reaction to them.
Rather than linger on these issues Alfonso Cuaron concentrated on the visual aspect of the movie and the result is a movie that is great to watch!
I went into Great Expectations with high hopes. The story has always been one of my favorites and I couldn't wait too see what they had done with it. The film is beautiful. It is very rich in color and scope. The cinematography was outstanding and the direction was solid. The acting was brillant all around. Robert De Niro is in the movie only briefly, but brings respect to a role that could be just a flash in the pan for anyone else. Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow are great and Chris Cooper turns in a very subtle but powerful performance as Finn's guardian. The film left me feeling good, what more could you ask for in a movie?
For beginning, Alfonso Cuarón is one of my favourite directors; and
this work of him puts together a great cast of actors: Gwyneth Paltrow,
Ethan Hawke, Robert De Niro, Chris Cooper and Anne Bancroft. British
novelist Charles Dickens's novel "Great Expectations" is the resource
for this successful adaptation. I have read the novel, and it's an
autobiographical drama and humour. I also saw the 1946 silver-screen
adaptation, which was boring and indifferent than this novel; and I
think it was indifferent on its own, as well. On the other hand,
Alfonso Cuarón's Great Expectations is a transformation of a
drama/comedy work of art into a romance. Besides, Alfonso Cuarón used
his materials perfectly through matching the relations of these
materials between each other:
1- Ms.Dinsmoor and her oath of revenge against mankind, that composes feminism 2- Estella and her enchanting beauty, falling the trap of pride 3- Finn and his pure emotions, falling the trap of loving an insensitive beauty 4- The mysterious benefactor of Finn who bears compunction of his past actions in his life and thus is laying down all of his possessions to Finn, whom he knows as a good-hearted little kid
The screenplay is so powerful that solidifies the plot with new original features including surrealist drawings of Finn, that turns the movie a real work of art. Estella is the inspiration of Finn, of his love, of his work, of his success, of his life, ultimately of himself; that he finds and pursues the love of his life all the time. In addition, he stays loyal to Estella. There is the one great qualification of this movie that, lovers always stay loyal to each other.
Although Estella has dated with rich businessmen and even married with them, she have always known that Finn was there waiting for her with complete determination and faith. They soon to come together to live happily ever after, like all the wholeheartedly love endings or non-endings. Read my synopsis for this movie, if you haven't got any chance yet to see it.
Great Expectations is one of the few films that can incorporate stunning
visuals, one of the best soundtracks to ever grace a film and simply
characters that you truly care about by the end of the film.
It's true that the character development on the character of Finn is a little weak, but the characters of Estella and the over flamboyant and heartbroken Miss Dinnsmore certainly make up for Finn's minor flaws. Personally i found the film very enjoyable and immersive, and the incredibly imaginative cinematography will certainly keep anyone's attention as well.
This film is a stylish and brilliant remake of a classic and could almost be considered timeless compared to other recent attempts at "updating" the classics which fail in comparison(such as the recent failed attempt at romeo and juliet). Great Expectations is certainly worth a rental (or even purchase) for anyone that enjoys simply a good, immersive movie with some absolutely beautiful imagery.
This movie, an absolute winner in many ways, lacked the recognition it deserved heavily, the wonderful green theme that runs throughout the movie makes it very pleasant for the viewing eye. Great Cinematography, Great Cast, Great music, add up to deliver a Great Movie which fulfils the viewers Great Expectations.
Too many times we fall into the trap of comparing a movie with the book. Every director and every writer has a vision and we must judge that vision through their respective mediums. This film brings an unconventional theme to a society fascinated by what they cannot have. This film symbolizes just that. Standing on its own, this film was magnificent in its visual images and music and very many other areas. Do not be caught in that trap of comparing this film to the book. Dickens should never be compared to any screenwriter in the first place.
Great Expectations (1998) ***1/2
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft, Chris Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Kim Dickens Director: Alfonso Cuaron 111 minutes Rated R
By Blake French:
The only thing keeping "Great Expectations" from being one of the best films of the year is the dialogue, which is too proper. The characters act like the everything they do must be out of perfection. When in reality, some of the film's characters would be gruff, careless people.
The movie is spellbinding from the first shot. That is undoubtfully because of the character development, which so many movies fail at these days. And not only are they adequately developed, they are engaging. The audience can relate to them as well as understand them. Now these are signs of a superb movie in the making.
The movie opens with a small boy, about ten years of age, being overtaken by a man who we later learn is a death sentenced escapee. He orders the pedestrian to bring selected materials to him early the next morning, and never to tell a soul of his terrifying experience. He does as he is told.
The boy is named Finnegan Bell, a poor, unfortunate child who lives with his older sister and her husband. The uncle, Joe, soon excepts a job from an extraordinarily eccentric mistress, Ms. Dinsmoor, and her spoiled daughter, Estella. Under circumstances, Finn is able to meet the young girls, about ten years of age as well, and later on becomes close friends with her and the woman
Years pass, Finn is still inevitably attracted to Estella, despite her emotionless personality. Unfortunately, she leaves the state to study her future career. Finn is devastated. He gives up his wonderful talent of art and goes into cruise drive for the next seven years.
An offer is made to him almost a decade later, to move to New York, where Estella lives at this time, and pursue a career as a professional artist. He excepts, and soon after he arrives, his paths cross with his love once again, but things aren't as they seem at first sight.
Do Finn and Estella follow a life of marriage together? Is Estella still interested in Finn, or does she have other romantic plans? I will not revel the answers to these questions. I will leave it up to you to watch this masterpiece destined to become a romantic classic. However, I will say that if you are not familiar with this old tale from Charles Dickens, things are very unpredictable, and this is not you typical, run-of-the-mill love story.
The performances are truly Oscar worthy, too bad I didn't see this movie when I came out. For I am reviewing it a year later, because I saw it on video, for free, that is. But I certainly would have paid full price to screen this gem, just to tell others how mesmerizing it is.
I loved Anne Bancroft, as the crazy widow. She is gorgeous, breathtaking, and one of a kind, as is Paltrow, as Estella herself. Ethan Hawke performs a down-to-earth character with interest and convincing situation. Chris Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Kim Dickens all provide strong supporting role, especially De Niro, but none are on screen enough to make an actual mark.
Another beautiful element in "Great Expectations" is the production design: in the houses the atmosphere is all lush, glamorous and interesting. It provides the characters with a firm foundation, which they certainly take advantage of. As a matter of fact, everyone involved with the creation of the film takes careful interest into everything they do. For this is one of the most luscious movies of the decade.
Hollywood and the movie industry have made many bold moves over the past
decade in bringing to life old classics. None however have been done more
boldly than the remoulding of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and
Charles Dicken's Great Expectations. Both are daring attempts to rebirth a
storyline from the distant past, as a tale told in our modern times. I say
attempt because in both cases, as good a job the cast and crew did, there
was something lacking in these new renditions. Great Expectations, the
movie, lacks many qualities that make the novel a success. It cannot be
said to be a total loss, the basic elements are intact, it is only the
embellishments Charles Dickens developed in the novel to make the story more
realistic that are missing.
One success, I must admit that I observed while watching the film was the rich visual setting. Although not taking presented in the same place, or era Great Expectations, the movie, is a feast for the eyes. It captivates the mind with beautiful shots of the rural Florida coast life, and yet still retains the jumbled, rundown atmosphere that is described of Pip's small birthplace in a small English town. These qualities of squalor are evident in the impoverished coastal fishing village of the movie. The best achievement in cinematography, is the in-depth views of Pardiso Perduto, a sister mansion to the decaying Satis house of the novel. Even the scenes of New York, the city of "expectations" for our youthful protagonist, Finn, has contrasting aspects of rich beauty and unsightly slums that the London of the nineteen century demonstrated. This is the most major achievement for the film; to capture on film a most ingenious modern equivalent of Charles Dicken's astute descriptions.
Unlike some attempts to revamp literary successes the movie at least retains some of the dignity of Dicken's work. The core of his novel is intact within the screenplay. Also many ingenious ideas were used in some plot changes, and cinematography. Overall it is not a bad representation of the novel.
I can't say enough about this movie....viewing should be required by law. It's absolutely amazing. I found the entire movie outstanding. Even the sex scenes were done tastefully. It is a great love story, a tragedy, and for me it offered excellent insight into my own life....something Hollywood rarely does.
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