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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The Whole Story

Author: pninson from Seattle, Washington
28 June 2009

This is the first adaptation of "Great Expectations" that covers the entire book. Over 12 30-minute episodes, Dickens' novel is faithfully transferred to the screen.

The only downside to this is that the novel does ramble a bit in places and therefore, so does this series. There are a few superfluous characters and sub-plots, so it's a little slow and talky in places. On the other hand, you do get the richness of detail that is missing from theatrical productions and some of the other television versions.

The best thing about this production is that Estella is portrayed perfectly. Both Patsy Kensit, who plays the young Estella, and Sarah-Jane Varley, who plays the adult part, portray her exactly as I pictured her when I read the novel all those years ago. It's not so much a matter of how the actresses look, but how the part is written and how the roles are performed.

Joan Hickson's Miss Havisham is definitive.

I'd recommend this highly to any fan of the novel. It's long, but it's well worth it to have the whole story rather than a condensed version.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic, in the top 3 Great Expectations adaptations

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
8 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The other two are David Lean's film, the most atmospheric and inventively-directed with the opening graveyard depiction unparallelled, and the 1989 series with Jean Simmons and Anthony Hopkins, before seeing this series that was the most faithful adaptation to the book. The others were the 1999 adaptation with Ioan Gruffodd and Charlotte Rampling, which was very good and until seeing this series was the only one to get adult Estella exactly right; the respectable 2011 series, though that suffered from being rushed and having two very miscast(but admittedly more age-appropriate) leads; a hugely flawed but somewhat decent animated version from Australia; the 2012 Mike Newell film which was a mixed bag; and the very dull and uninspired 1974 TV film which had only the costumes, the setting of Satis House and four performances(those of Miss Havisham, Magwitch, Jaggers and Joe Gargery) going for it.

And then there's this 1981 adaptation, as an adaptation, along with the 1989 series it is the most faithful adaptation to the book, and on its own merits it is fantastic. There is hardly anything that came across as wrong, apart from a few moments where the pacing rambled a bit though the book did have that as well. It is very compellingly adapted, paced in a way that the story doesn't feel too incomplete, stretched or thin and it is also very atmospheric and intricate. While the opening scene is still done the best in Lean's film, this adaptation is a very close second best, and it has one of the better executions of the ending(1989 just about tops it). The dialogue is literate and very Dickenesian, some scenes do have a lot of talk then again so did the book. The length was not a problem, it is long but Great Expectations is a big book and difficult to adapt, suited better for a mini-series of this length than a feature film, so a long length is necessary to develop all those themes, situations, conflicts and characters.

Visually, it's also very good. It is beautifully detailed, well-photographed and the important scenes are done with atmosphere and care. And while it is a very meticulous production, it doesn't forget the desolation that we see in the opening scene, in the marshes and in the scenes with Pip as a child. Some of the negative Amazon reviewers deemed it as too bleak, a complaint that doesn't really make much sense to me, the earlier chapters and scenes actually require a bleakness and the book does have a darkness to it as well. At least it doesn't veer on too grim and Gothic, in the 2012 film Mike Newell did try to bring out the darkness and conflict of the story and emphasised on it too much, this version doesn't do that. The music also suits things nicely.

You couldn't ask for greater performances either, all are among the best in their respective roles and some go even further in being definitive too. This is the version with the best adult Pip and Estella. Gerry Sandquist is appealing and with a warm humble presence, he is attractive too without being too much of a pretty-boy like Douglas Booth for the 2011 adaptation. Sarah-Jane Varley is by far the most convincing adult Estella, even better than the Estella in the 1999 adaptation, her looks are enough to convince you what Pip sees in her in the first place yet there is still the coldness and haughtiness without being a overly-hysteric condescending snob that Sarah Miles in the 1974 film portrayed. She isn't too old for the role, and far from passionless. Colin Jeavons is also the best Wemmick, you miss the character's delightful wedding scene which was the one really notable absentee, but Jeavons plays the character very endearingly. Derek Francis is also one of the best Jaggers' too, though that is a character played well by all the actors playing him in all the adaptations.

Patsy Kensit is also one of the better young Estellas, though Jean Simmons in Lean's film is the one you'll remember the most. Young Pip is convincing. Tim Munro plays Herbert Pocket beautifully, eccentric and quaint as he should be. It was really nice to see his poor parents too, an opportunity to know more about him. Phillip Joseph characterises Joe with dignity, and Linal Haft's Orlick is memorable. The Magwitch of Stratford Johns is genuinely terrifying to begin with, but you feel for him later on and Johns does show a noble sympathetic side too. The performance that stood out the most was Joan Hickson as Miss Havisham, Gillian Anderson and especially Jean Simmons may have been a little more convincing physically but along with Simmons and Martita Hunt Hickson gives one of the most outstanding interpretations of the character. A very authoritative performance, and she captures the mystery and ruination of the character perfectly, with her scenes with Pip and Estella played with momentum and absolute conviction.

Overall, a fantastic series and adaptations, along with the Lean film and 1989 series one of the best versions of Great Expectations. Contrary to what some of those who didn't like it have said, it's not too long, not too slow(even with some rambling parts, and the book does share some of the blame) and not too bleak, this is a fine example of how a literary classic like Great Expectations should be adapted. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A cult serial

Author: Cristi_Ciopron from CGSM, Soseaua Nationala 49
20 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For me the TV version of TGE is THE adaptation of the unmatched literary masterpiece;I have seen in it as an adolescent, and hugely cherished it. I have found it to be the most touching, moving, atmospheric and what not. Compared to it, the '40s famous version seemed insipid and stale and trite—but enough with that, as I sense many might in fact prefer the older movie.

It's very thrilling, wide, carefully detailed and affectionate; it casts the young Miss Kensit in a wonderful role, and she gives a fine performance as the mean, heartless, beautiful girl.

I have watched it 14 yrs. ago, and count it as one of the best things seen that year (on a par with a Colman version of the TALE OF TWO CITIES).

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Mud Flats

Author: ( from London UK
18 March 2009


GREAT EXPECTATIONS…BBCTV… I'm off down to the mud flats of the West Country on another version of this Dickens story. Again I'm playing an old time copper and there are another dozen of us Supporting Artists to help out with the filming for a few days. On the first early morning start we all sit down to breakfast in the hotel. The Wardrobe dept insist that the coppers all have large napkins placed on their laps and fronts to keep the pure white and red uniforms in pristine condition for the filming.. (It's a bit like we don't know how to eat breakfast without making a mess down ourselves).. After breakfast it's onto the coach for the two mile drive to the mud flats and the dialogue goes ''Sit straight boys, don't crease those trousers, don't smoke on the coach in case you get ash over yourselves, hang your jackets up etc'' (Now here's the rub) John (The Grunter) Cannon and I are to be in the first shot which consists of getting Magwitch (Stratford Johns) out of the water and mud in the tidal river… (I've sure I've done this before) Terry Plumber is stunt double for Mr Johns and weighs in at about eighteen stone (dry). On the word ''ACTION'' Aitch and the Grunter are into the mud and water and wade out to get Magwitch and help him to shore.. When we reach Terry and try to lift him we start to sink into the mud.(napkins and creased trousers come to mind) My large police top hat falls off and is heading for the coast as we struggle to get Terry to the bank.. When we are near to the bank Terry gets substituted for Stratford Johns for the close ups. He has to be muddied up. Because it takes a couple of hours to do the dialogue scenes (although on screen it's two minutes) the Grunter and I keep drying out and are asked before every take ''if you wouldn't mind getting back into the mud for continuity sake''. We finish off all the scenes by the river bank, then the three of us are whisked back to the hotel to get some clean dry clothes. The coach driver doesn't stop tut tutting all the way back about the mud we're spreading in his nice clean coach. (He should have put us on the roof rack) The Grunter and I were cold and wet and the first thing the jobs worth assistant wardrobe person said was (flapping) ''Where's your hat, where's your hat''? I looked at the clock on the wall, turned to him and said… ''In the English f***ing Channel by now… The rest of the shoot went to plan and I can laugh about it now. (I still think David Lean's 1946 version of this story can't be topped)

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