6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Imaginative tale of Magwitch's exploits in Australia
Filmtribute from United Kingdom
20 March 2001
This $6,000,000 collaboration between Tim and Tom Burstall (father and
son), and the ABC, extends the classic Charles Dickens story of the
young orphan who helps an escaped convict and is later rewarded by a
mysterious benefactor. The story imaginatively explores the central
character of Abel Magwitch and his Australian adventures. The main
characters are well played, with John Stanton (Phar Lap) creating a
very believable and humane Magwitch, who manages a very credible
transformation from the rough convict who initially terrifies Pip at
his parents' graveside, to ultimately become his generous benefactor.
The themes of class and prejudice; justice, punishment, transportation
and penal colonies; fortune and coincidence, destiny and fate; morality
and kindness rewarded are all covered. The story encompasses Magwitch's
transportation to Australia, his imprisonment there and eventual
service to a landowner where he is reunited with his old adversary
Compeyson from 'the old country'. We are shown how Magwitch came by his
own lucky fortune and accumulation of wealth, and his subsequent
determination to benefit his young helper on the Kent marshes. The
ending is more upbeat than Dickens, who always depicts life with more
sorrow than joy, mirroring his own experiences.
It is interesting to see an Australian production based on an English
story and, if some of the characterisations seemed a little quirky to
me I am probably unfairly comparing them to British productions. We
should remember that Dickens wrote about odd people at a time when
eccentricities were more marked and tolerated, despite the accompanying
social ills, than today where modern life attempts to iron out
abnormalities in the name of progress.
It seems a shame to me that the film version, edited by Hemdale
Distributors out of the original ABC series, omits the adult Estella's
story, as there are too few opportunities to see performances by the
wonderful Anne Louise Lambert (Picnic at Hanging Rock). The brief
glimpse of Estella dancing with Pip illustrates a classical beauty to
rival any other portrayal I have seen.
I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Great
Expectations, to broaden their perspective on the story.
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