Friday, 7 December 2012

Great Expectations

to the Cinema at Bolden for the latest production of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.

Last January the BBC produced an excellent three part serial of the book over three consecutive nights and which had followed a showing of the 1946 film and the later films. Although I wrote of these experiences at the time and which I am reproducing  I included these under literature rather than film which I shall now remedy. I wrote

“As part of my Christmas viewing I reported on a three part BBC adaptation of the three part book by Charles Dickens Great Expectations. In my limited viewpoint in respect of the cinematic and stage adaptations there had been nothing until now to compare with 1946 film which had John Mills as Pip the young man and Alec Guinness as his friend Pocket. Jean Simmons played Estella the younger and Valerie Hobson as Miss Haversham with Finlay Curry and Bernard Miles also featuring. However although I saw the 1946 film soon after its release while still at preparatory school and it made a lasting impression, it is at least decade since seeing the film again on Television. It is also a long time since reading the text, if I ever have, although along the way I had acquired a Heron edition of the work. Over the weekend the 1946 film was shown on television and this precipitated to jump my reading, albeit fast reading, of the text to this week.

In all three of the works we commence with Pip as a young boy in the care of his married elder sister who husband Joe a blacksmith treats the child more as a young brother than a substitute father. The 1946 version has a much softer version of Mrs Gargery, called Mrs Joe in the text, than the portrait of her painted by Dickens which has her as an unattractive bossy woman who attempts to keep the menfolk around her under her thumb. The setting is Christmas Eve as Pip encounters an escaped convict in the marshes around his home who first frightens the boy and then engages his sympathy so that in addition to bringing the man a file to free him from the chains he also brings food, including a pork pie and brandy. On his way back with the supplies he encounters another escaped convict, a man with a scar on the side of his face. When Pip tells Magwitch of this encounter on the assumption the food is to be shared the impact is for Magwitch to react with anger, not at Pip but the news that a great enemy is to hand.

The Text covers the Christmas dinner and the horror of Pip when Mrs Joe announces to the company that as a treat they are to finish a full meal with a slice of the pork pie given to them by Pip’s uncle. She is just about to discover the theft when the troops arrive seeking the assistance of the Blacksmith, and soon he and Pip are joining the chase to find the convicts who appear to have escaped off the convict ship on its way or moored in the Thames. Magwitch is caught because he remained on the marshes to find and try and kill the other man. Both are now captured and taken on board the convict ship bound for the antipodes.  Before departing he absolves Pip saying he broke into the forge and its house for the file and for the food. In all versions kindly Joe says he does not begrudge the man the food. This signals to the reader that Joe is far from the average working man who excitedly joins in the throngs in their tens of thousands who watch and cheer the constant hangings of men women and children in the capital for the most minor of offences.

The reason why Magwitch stays to try and kill the other convict is not explained in the 1946 film which is a much simplified version. In the 2012 series Pip has an uncle who delivers supplies as a trader to the local great house where it’s eccentric and considered mad Lady is looking for a local young boy to keep her adopted daughter company. Pip is suggested and while his sister sees this as a great opportunity for family advancement her husband is unsure.  In the 2012 film Pip enjoys the visits despite the strangeness of Miss Haversham, a comparatively young woman who lives as a recluse on the first floor of the house where the windows are shuttered and the drapes closed where the dinning room is laid out for a wedding breakfast from years before. In the 1946 film Miss Haversham is a much older woman who appears to have been fixed in her situation for at least two decades and to have adopted Estella long after she had become hardened and set in her ways and with the plan to train the girl to become her weapon against men in society.

The young adopted girl Estella, brilliantly played by a 17 year old Jean Simmonds in 1946, is unkind to Pip who she regards as inferior until an event which changes their relationship. In the recent adaptation relatives of Miss Haversham call with their son but are refused access to Miss Haversham. They are incensed when they find Pip is allowed into the house and upper floors. He is told to immediately leave by Miss Haversham who cannot cope with his visit because of the situation with the relatives and when he leaves he encounters the son of the visitors who behaves like Estella, but in this instance Pip defends himself and strikes the young man down. This delights Estella because he has made something happen and in the book she allows Pip to kiss her. The fight is more prolonged in the text and more of a sporting than a bullying event. The difference is that the family are named as the Pockets and the elderly Miss Pocket appears to be a frequent visitor to the house. It is also made plain in text and film that the girl is being brought up to regard all men as enemies and that her primary function in life will be to break their hearts. Neither the adoption nor the visiting would be allowed today, or at last I hope this would be the situation.

Despite the way he is treated Pip is influenced by the lifestyle, knowledge and interests of those with money and education and he is disappointed when Miss Haversham decides to end the visits by announcing that she is to bring forward his wish to be apprenticed to Joe and will pay the family a Premium as a reward for his attendance at the house. The condition is that he does not return. This is not intended as a kindly act on her part. In the recent series Mrs Joe has the expectation that the whole family is to be socially improved by summons for her husband to visit with Joe and she rejects the offer of some rabbits by the hired help Orlick a young man who is known as old Orlick in the book. He is so incenses that off screen he batters the woman senseless. There is no reference to Orlick and his subsequent role in the 1946 film. In the recent series, shown on three consecutive nights the lawyers Jaggers is present with the papers of indenture whereas in the book Joe brings the papers and we first meet the lawyer four years later. Similarly we are yet to meet the assistant Orlick until later in the book. On return from the Hall Joe teases his wife suggesting at first a payment of ten pounds has been made, then twenty and only then twenty five, which are substantial amounts even for someone operating their own business as blacksmith

In the book the battering of Pip’s sister by Orlick occurs when later during the apprenticeship he gets time off to make a visit to Miss Haversham to report progress and to see Estella. He is disappointed to find that she is away in Paris at school being trained to become an eligible young Lady in London society. He meets Orlick on the way home and Joe has been out at a local Inn for the evening. The crime is investigated by the police but their inquiries come to nothing except that Pip is suspicious of Orlick who knew his way around the house and forge and of their movements.

It is after his sister becomes disabled and in need of care that there arrives into the household Biddy, a young woman whose origin I am confused about thinking first that she was a relative.  Biddy quickly commands the respect of Pip and of Joe, and indeed also manages to establish the confidence and affection of the sister. The sister scrawls the letter T on a slate which after a while it is Biddy who works out that this is intended to represent a hammer from the forge and that the attacked was Orlick who continues as if nothing has happened. While Biddy appears towards the end of the 1946 film there is no reference to the crucial point in the text about a third of the way through the volume when Pip confides in Biddy that he no longer wishes to become a Blacksmith but would like to be a gentleman. In fairness this is touched on in the 2012 series when Pip expresses disappointment at the decision to become apprenticed and stop his visits to the great House. However Biddy does not appear in the recent series which is odd.

Biddy possesses insight and wisdom as well as the capacity to act as the boy’s teacher and it is not surprising that Pip appreciates her superiority over Estella. He also becomes watchful when Orlick begins to take an interest in Biddy.

It is in the fourth year of the apprenticeship that Mr Dickens has Mr Jaggers, the lawyer, making an appearance, played in the latest series by the excellent David Suchet. In both film and series there is close adherence the text except that in the text despite the insistence that there are no inquiries and or disclosure as to the benefactor who is offering to educate and maintain Pip as a Gentleman of Great Expectations who will come into wealth on or after reaching his majority, Pip immediately expresses the belief that it is Miss Haversham who is the provider of his good fortune. Mr Jaggers provides twenty guineas for the purchase of appropriate clothing and for the journey to London and the excitement is shared in the household during the subsequent week before the requested departure.

It is also evidence that  even before reaching London Pip understood he was changing one life for another and could not wait to get away, believing that he would not return to his former ways and life style. He is also determined to show Miss Haversham his new set of clothes before departure. On this visit she gives the impression of confirming she is the benefactor mentioning that she has heard of his change of fortune from Mr Jaggers.

There is one other important difference between the text and the 1946 film and 2012 series. In these Pip only discovers that he is to share accommodation and be tutored as a gentleman by the former adversary, Master Pocket who he encountered at the home of Miss Haversham when he arrives at the lodgings. In fact he is made aware of the arrangement by Mr Jaggers on his first visit and indeed the elderly Miss Pocket is at the Hall when Pip visits.

Before leaving the story as Pip makes his way excitedly to London and the first part of the book formally I will mention one incongruity about the 1946 film. This is that Pip and Master Pocket are played by established actors more than twice the age of their characters, with John Mills in his late thirties 30’s as Pip and Alec Guinness  also in his thirties as Master Pocket. I also feel that the Black and White of 1946 is more effect in conveying the events on the marshes and the sinister nature of the Hall and Miss Haversham and Dickensian London and Society than the colour versions. It is also fiat comment to say that Joe, Biddy and indeed Pip himself does show ambivalence as the departure approaches but for Pip the driving force is that by becoming a gentleman he will also become an acceptable suitor for Estella.

In the second part of the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Pip sets off to London with some apprehension but  also enthusiastic  for his new life in the belief that it is part of the plan of Miss Haversham to one day enable him to marry her adopted daughter Estella.  The second part covers the years to his 21st birthday and  then to when in his twenty third year his actual benefactor declares himself.

I have been given further reflection to the character of Pip an ordinary working class young man who espouses middle class pretensions through the misguided and untreatable rather than Machiavellian actions of Miss Haversham who herself is the victim of cruel confidence trick in which she had  given money to a rogue who had proposed marriage and then left her alone with her guest and the weeding breakfast arranged.

Both the 1946 film and the 2012 BBC TV adaptation in three episodes corresponding to the divisions in the book are loyal to the text sometimes in detail, sometimes with dramatic licence but always in the spirit of the book.. Both the film and series fail to give appropriate recognition to the role of Biddy and the development of her  relationship with Joe as well as the influence she exerted on the development of Pip prior to his departure to London. The 1946 film excludes a number of characters while the recent series alters their role and involvements to varying degrees.

The visit of Joe to London, his older brother in role rather than father substitute, is covered and Pips realization that he has little in common with Joe and would have preferred not to be reminded of his past until realizing that the purpose is to advise that he is summoned to Miss Haversham as Estella has returned from Paris. Instead of staying at  his former home he takes a room at the hotel in the closest town used by the gentry.

When Miss Haversham tells Pip to love Estella he believes that his dream is to become true and has no idea that her intention is for her adopted daughter to break his heart and that of as many as she can encourage to fall in love with her. She is to be Miss Faversham’s weapon in the world.

Pip also returns home after he is informed that his sister has died and he reacts angrily when Biddy criticises him for failing to keep in touch. Joe in his gentle manner, played brilliantly by Bernard Miles in the 1946 film mentions as if in passing that he and Biddy talk of Pip and what is happening to him every evening  when sitting in the kitchen after their meal. Joe understands that Pip now lives in a  different world, he has no expectation but hopes

There is great excitement when Estella writes to say she is coming to live in London and that Miss Haversham has decreed that Pip should meet her off the coach and then escort her to Richmond where she is live and participate in London society with a view to becoming engaged and married. Pip cannot wait for the arrival and spends the greater part of the day exploring the area around the coach station, They take tea before he escorts her to Richmond with Estella insisting that she pays for the coach after this is required by Miss Haversham. It takes time for Estella to begin to challenge the control of her adopted parent.

Pip also accompanies Estella on one visit to Miss Haversham when Estella has been summoned back as the frustrated and angry parent has found that behaviour of her daughter towards her does not meet her expectations. The daughter explains that she has been brought up to have a cold and cruel heart and this she applies to everyone, without exception including her mother. What else should her mother expect? Happiness? A sense of  justice? Vindication? Estella also warns Pip.

Previously I incorrectly suggested that because Pip was told he was to  share accommodation with one Herbert Pocket this meant he knew in advance that this was the same  individual  who when a boy they had fought at the home of Miss Haversham. The text confirms that it is only on their meeting again at the rooms that Pip appreciated who Mr Pocket is. Mr Pocket had been to the market for fruit and was out when Pip arrives at the accommodation

This accommodation is close to the office of Jaggers who hires the furniture which Pip subsequently says he wishes to buy and also expand.

Pip then spend much time at the family home of  the Pockets of  Hammersmith, in part because it is on the way to Richmond  further along the Thames where Estella is lodged. It here he makes the acquaintance with Mr Drummle and another young man lodging with the Pockets and their many children. In the recent series he encounter Drummle at a gentleman’s club. In the films he learns to dance, to fence and box and other gentleman pursuits  but not to ride which was still considered an essential accomplishment for a gentleman of the period. In the book there is reference to  being educated as gentleman but  no detailed description of activities.

Drummle does not come across as the  important aristo  in the book as he does in the recent series although he is a mirror for Pip to see the difference between the gentleman from birth and the nouveaux arrivĂ©. In the series Herbert explains  his present being disinherited because of his relationship with a young woman disapproved by his family. My understand from the book is that he just has no means and is therefore concerned without a job how he will be able to marry and provide  home and future for his wife and any family. Pip does use his resources to help Herbert get a position. Herbert does also leave to work abroad but this is before and not after the arrival back in England of Magwitch.

There is also some accuracy in the recent series and the film regarding their finances. I did not find reference in the text to Pip being allowed £250 a year until reaching majority where there is reference to the sum being increased to £500 and drawn quarterly. Jaggers does use the occasion of the majority to warn Pip about living well beyond his means and in the book Pip and Herbert have already undertaken an exercise of working out the extent of their unpaid bills with Herbert owing over £150 rounded to £200 and he more than three times as great which is also rounded up for the purpose of continuing to amass debt and to raise the margins if necessary.  This he continues  because of his need to keep up with the life now led by Estella who has become the interest of Drummle.

When I went to work as a clerk in central London in 1957 nearly one hundred years later my initial income was £260 a year and three years later as a result of passing a clerical division examination and other improvements my income had reached £500. Therefore the allowance  given Pip was indeed a handsome one

However Pips life is shattered with the arrival of Magwitch  to his rooms and the former convict is his benefactor. While  to the first time watcher of film or recent series without  prior knowledge of the story this may have come as a surprise, it is not so in the text in the sense that Dickens prepares his reader. There are references to convicts on their way to transportation. Pip while waiting for Estella to arrive in London encounters the chief clerk of Jaggers and undertakes a visit to Newgate where he learns of the high position his guardian holds among the prison staff and the high reputation  in which  the clients hold him. He has already viewed the death masks kept in the office of the firm and the Chief Clerk has told Pip to look out for the housekeeper. Jaggers against the repeated wishes of the housekeeper insists that she displays her wrists to Pip and other dinner guest on one occasion to make the point that the woman wrist stronger than any male. Who this woman is and what other links and relationships remain to be disclosed in the third part. And I come to recount the final part of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in book form and the 1946 film and BBC 3 part series of 2012. Again as with the second part I must begin with something of a correction although this time I was more accurate than previously in stating that Herbert Pocket was overseas when Abel Magwitch descended upon the amazed and disappointed Pip. Technically Herbert was abroad but travelling back from his long absence, arriving some five days after Pip adjusted to reality of his position.

His visitor had been described to all those who attended to his rooms and as his uncle and on advising Jaggers of the development he immediately took his cue from Jaggers not to imply that that the contact was in person as it would have been the duty of the officer of the courts to report the arrival of someone who had been told they would be executed if returning to land of birth and the sentencing.

It was a few days later Abel told Pip how he had encountered Mr Campeyson. Abel admitted that he had lived as a tramp, begging, sometimes thieving and working when he could. Twenty years ago at the Epsom races he had encountered Campeyson a man who had been to a public school and had learning and dressed and lived as a gentleman but who also lived outside the law, forging, swindling and passing on stolen banknotes and such like. Campeyson lived with his wife and friend, also met at Epson who was dying. Abel and Campeyson formed an association but when they were apprehended and charged with a felon it appears that Campeyson made much of his background and lack of previous conviction, placing all responsibility on Abel where the judge and court were against him so he was convicted and sent away for life but the lead criminal escaped with a little sentence. Thus Abel had determined to escape to smash the man in the face and worse and thus he had been captured after being showed kindness by Pip and determined to repay that kindness.

Pip had set about visiting Estella to explain his new situation but also to declare his love but on reaching Richmond found she had returned to Miss Haversham on her own something she had not done  before or indicated she  would do again soon. He had made his way to the Inn on the excuse of keeping a promise to visit Joe and discovered the presence of Bentley Drummle who was scathing about the location saying he was bored and dismissing Pip’s suggestion that the country was similar to that of Shropshire, the man’s home county.

He then visited Miss Haversham who expressed surprise at his visit and who he reproached for  misleading him by giving the impression she was his benefactor. Then as Estella reminded of her warnings in the past about the true nature of her mother by adoption and they way she been brought up she broke his heart by  announcing it was her intention to marry Drummle with the blessing of her mother, despite Pip declaring that he had always loved her and always would.

He decided he could not face Drummle and made his way back to London arriving at midnight  and arrival he received a note from  a watchman at a Temple  gateway who he knew well, in the hand of Wemmick the chief clerk of Jaggers, saying do not go home. He therefore went to lodgings in Covent Garden which he knew were open all hours and obtained a bed for the night. He had a troubled night after all the disappointments of the day with the words ring in his ears. At least he had managed to make a request to Miss Haversham, a closing of their account so to speak, to cover his expenditure owed on securing the position for his friend Herbert. She promised to give consideration.

At the first opportunity he made his way to Wemmick’s who was toasting sausages with his hot rolls and tea and said he had left a note with all the watchmen at the gates to the Temple area. Wemmick then provides lots of advice indirectly that is to say not return home, but to a place along the Thames that he could recommend. This was in fact the home of a woman who acted as a mother figure the girl friend of Herbert with whom Pip had established good relations and after helping Herbert gain position so he could marry the girl and set home on their own. The girl had no mother of her own or other  kinsfolk. And here too they had secreted Abel under an assumed name.  The plan was that he and Herbert who were already good watermen and enjoyed rowing on the Thames would continue to do so but this time with the purpose that when it was possible to join a ship making its way from the Thames to the continent they would take Abel to join it and get him thus safely out of country. It was at this point he returned to his lodging and set about acquiring a boat to put their plan into operation.

Weeks went by and he began to have problems with his finances having returned Abel’s pocket book of cash unopened because of the circumstances and uncertainty for the future. He made do by selling possessions while waiting to hear of ship from Wemmick. He avoided reading the papers for fear of seeing the announcement of the marriage between Estella and Drummle and he reacquainted himself with Mr Wopsle from his home area who he encountered before in London when the man acted in a performance of Hamlet. The contact was timely because Wopsle was able to tell Pip that he was being followed/watched... And then reminded Pip of the Christmas lunch all those years ago when Pip was still a boy and the soldiers had come and they gone out with them and come across the two convicts fighting in the ditch. It was one of them, and from further questions Pip established it was Campeyson.

Pip arrived back home after midnight and held Counsel with Herbert although there was nothing to be done until he reported the development to Wemmick.

There was then an event which commenced to complete the background picture and which was to achieve a most unexpected illumination for he encountered Jaggers who establishing that he had no plans for his evening meal invited him to his home where also Mr Wemmick would be participating. The meal provide opportunity for his closer study of the woman acting as the maidservant and he suddenly realised why he been so fascinated before because of the eyes and a look which he had come to know so well. Afterwards he questioned Wemmick about the circumstances of the woman that he had saved from the gallows and who he had previously described as a tamed wild beast. The charge had been that of murdering an older, larger and more powerful woman and Wemmick tells the story in such a way as to suggest the woman was guilty but by dressing her differently and in such a way as to disguise her strength she had been acquitted. There was also a child which had disappeared as was believed to have been murdered. There was also reference to both women having been associated with the same tramping men. The child was female.

Pip had also been given a note from Miss Haversham to visit, This was also to have various important consequences. He made his way but this time did not stay at the main Inn but selected another because of the association with Drummle and the information that he was being watched by the enemy of his benefactor. Miss Haversham  was willing to make available to him a sum of £900 payable by Mr Jaggers to settle his debt in arranging employment for Herbert Pocket and this in effect settled his account with Miss Haversham, claiming nothing for himself.

Then there i an exchange in which Pip comes to ask whether Estella has married and in which Miss Haversham admits with great feeling the realization that of the impact of her approach to the raising of Estella  had on the young woman and on their relationship. her approach has had the opposite effect to what had been. She had originally meant to save her from a similar misery to her own.

The opportunity was taken to question Miss Haversham about the parentage of the child but she said that after years of shutting herself  away alone she had intimated her desire and Jaggers had brought her the child possible two or three years of  age, who as asleep at the time and was said to be an orphan. Pip then left an fortunately before departing from the property he looked back and say the room in which he had been with Miss Haversham  was on fire and he returned to rescue her, badly burning his hands but saving the life although the woman was very ill as a consequence.

It was while he also recovered from the experience under the care of Herbert Pocket and the friend had also obtained information from Abel which was to change his understanding of the situation for Magwitch had told Herbert a version of the same tale that Wemmick had stated thus revealing that Magwitch was the father of Estella although that she was alive and married and Pip not only had known her but loved her he remained unaware of this.

Recovered sufficiently he had visited Jaggers to present the authority for the payment of funds to settle the position of Herbert and had also given an account of the accident. Mr Jaggers appeared concerned that Pip had not gained financially from the visit. Pip took the opportunity to press Jaggers about the parentage of Estella pretending that the information gained from Wemmick had come from Miss Haversham as well as relayed by Herbert from Magwitch. Jaggers in his fashion as an experienced man of law speculated the reason why it had been best and remained best for none of the parties know the placement and what had subsequently happened. Pip was persuaded that there was no good to be gained from changing decisions made in the past now.

It then time  to pursue the plan to leave England  for the continent  without worrying about the port of destination  of the first ship available to them and which they could join from along the river rather than the official point of embarkation. It was shortly after the arrangements were made that he received a letter requesting him to return to his the area of his childhood for information concerning his uncle under the name that Magwitch had been using.

This led him to meet old Orlick again who disclosed his knowledge of the plan and the events leading to the proposed flight and his resentment of Pip since the boy’s childhood, including getting the man the sack from his position with Miss Haversham. Orlick planned to end the life of Pip revealing that he had been responsible for the injuries to the sister. It was therefore fortunate  that with the help of a local contact of Pip, Herbert and another friend from his arrival in London had decided that Pip should  not venture alone and had kept their distance. Pip had lost consciousness while Orlick struggles with some men who only when he recovered did Pip appreciate they were his friends. Orlick had  gone off  and  although Herbert had wanted the magistrate Pip made the priority  Magwitch who he realised was under even great threat than had was previously appreciated.

The novel is more successful that in either films in conveying the tension experienced by Pip as they got Abel to their rowing boat and proceeded down the Thames to the point when they would meet the vessel that had agreed to pick them up, In the 1946 film there is reference to reaching a point when the authority of the London warrant/ court decision had no effect while the BBC this year added the plan that Magwitch would be dressed as pilot  and board the vessel at the point where such a move was usually made.

The climax comes when as their ship is sighted and they make way another craft approaches and demands the giving up of Abel; The man making the demand is none other than Campeyson his long standing enemy. Then two adversaries get into a fight in which Campeyson dies and Magwitch is captured. Pip and his associates return to the land.  It has also been revealed that Campeyson was he man who cheated and ruined the life of Miss Haversham, and consequentially that of Estella.

This is an important moment for Pip because on one hand he assesses the care and concern which Abel Magwitch had shown to him over many years because of a brief encounter and some kindness and on the other he evaluates his own behaviour over recent years towards Joe.

There followed the process by which evidence against Magwitch was presented and he committed to the assizes and consideration given by his friend to the future of Pip including offer of employment and a home with Herbert. Pip says he needs two to three months to decide on his future. He finds himself  unexpectedly acting as best man Mr Wemmick when he says he is taking his first holiday for 12 years and insists they take a walk in London that morning.

As in the 1946 film Abel is condemned to death with thirty one others, the trial not having been postponed for a session despite the knowledge that because of injuries Abel was unlikely to live until then and was being kept in the prison infirmary. Pip was able to visit him daily and attempt to bring comfort. It is as the life draws to its end that Pip decides to reveal to his benefactor that his child had lived and become a beautiful young woman, who Pip loved and always would, omitting the unhappy aspects of the position.

Following the death Pip struggles to settle his affairs and then became ill with fever at the point it was about to be arrested for debt. He breaks from the fever to find that he is being cared by Joe and this fills him again with guilt at his treatment of the man over recent years. As his health improves he learns that Joe is to marry Biddy  who has become the village school mistress and taught Joe to read and write and that it was she that had insisted Joe took care of Pip as soon as they heard he was so ill and among strangers. He was able to give an account that Miss Haversham had been given varying sums of money to individuals of their acquaintance and that Orlick was in the County Jail after breaking in to the premises of Pip’s real uncle. Pip in turns tells Joe about his benefactor not being Miss Haversham, as he grows in strength and is able to go out of the home. Pip then discovers that it is Joe who settled the debt for which he had been arrested.

Discovering this after Joe had departed he decided to return to the forge first staying at the Blue Boar only to find that being an individual without expectation he was assigned to inferior accommodation. He then discovered that the former home of Miss Haversham and Estella was up for auction for its building materials and demolition. Returning to the coffee shop of the Inn he encounters his uncle who is disturbed at his appearance and circumstances.

Pip then encounters Joe and Biddy as they are married. There is a postscript more than epilogue that Joe accepted the offer of employment with Herbert and accordingly settled all his debt being given due time to discharge them, He resided with Herbert and his wife and several years went by before he also became a partner in the firm as he had purchased for Herbert in secret.

Eleven years were to pass before he visited Joe and Biddy and found they had a boy who they had named Pip. He had then visited with the home of Miss Haversham and Estella had been because this had long since been knocked down and cleared with only the outer walls and fencing remaining. It is here he is said to encounter Estella who like him claims this is the first she has returned since the decades have passed. They agree to be friends but at a distance. It is left to the reader to decide if the chance meeting is real or one of the imagination.

The ending is different from that in the films where they meet and embrace. Estella husband has died in a riding accident in the BBC rendering and she praises the horse for giving her the freedom. It is understandable that in both productions as one of two hours and the other of three, incidents are telescoped such as the number of visits made to see Miss Haversham after Pip becomes an adult and some characters and events are not included. There have been occasion when I have considered that a film is true to a fictional work and even enhanced the original text. In this instance both films do more that provide the essence of the story and portrayal of the period, and some parts are a vivid re-enactment, but in this instance there is much reward in reading the book as it was written one hundred and fifty years ago. That I suggest is a unique achievement for a writer and not an isolated example in relation to his body of work.”

I now come to the treatment of book in the latest film director by Mike Newall and in which three of my favourite actors from the Harry Potter series also appear, Robbie Coltrane is the lawyer Jaggers who has a much softer role that in than the BBC series or previous films although he remains ruthless in showing off the hands of his housekeeper,  Ralph Fiennes is Magwitch adding an intensity of characterization which is new and my star performance of all performances, including that of Jean Simmons goes to Helena Bonham Carter who brings much of the madness of Bellatrix Lestrange to Miss Haversham.

The latest film deletes all reference to Orlick the previous apprentice and assistant to Pips brother in law and the wife dies from natural causes rather than murder. Biddy played by Jessie Cave grown up and Bebe Cave as the young school assistant is the teacher of Pip who educates him following his  experience with the Havershams, falls in love and then establishes a relationship with Joe while Pip is living it up as a Gentleman inn London.

I liked Jason Flemyings role at Joe Gargery and although different he is equal to that of Bernard Miles in the 1948 film. I have always thought that Estelle is a difficult character to play because  there is something unconvincing about  psychological make up and behaviour as created by Dickens which makes the role a great challenge. I though Holliday Grainer did well in a role she is reported to have wanted to undertake since reading the book aged 15 years.  Interestingly young Estelle is played by Grainger’s younger sister and where the young girl appears a more likely  real life character than the adult.

The big change is to make the Gentleman’s club which Jaggers obtains a membership for Pip is portrayed as the Bullingdon Boys Dining club at Oxford and a former haunt of the Prime Minister where the standard is riotous eating and drinking, smashing of crockery and sometimes premises and  a lot of throwing about of good and expensive food, This is a  great addition and the cause of Pip’s descent into great debt which he has no means to pay.
What else was noted. Pip tries to save Miss Haversham when her dress catches fire and burns his hand but otherwise the House remains its already derelict state and before this the relatives who now number four have been taken in by Haversham top serve her.

The other significant aspect already mentioned is the role of Biddy and the invitation of all the young men of the fashionable club to the dinner party at which the the murderess Mrs Magwitch is introduced as a way fo quietening Bentley Drummle. In the final scene Estella makes contact with Pip after the death of Drummle. The film leaves the audience with a  happy ending between Pip and Estella something which Dickens was not prepared to do.

Because of  reading the book with care, and seeing the TV series and two previous films last January, the story was too familiar to become fully engaged in this production but remained an enjoyable and worthwhile experience nevertheless. As with Oliver Twist it is a movie for this era and will introduce a new generation of teenagers (12 A certificate to Dickensian society and London. David Wallians, host of the 100th Royal Variety Performance plays Uncle Punchchook and Tamzin Outhwaite as Molly(Mrs Magwitch). Ewen Bremner  is an excellent Wemmick where the novelty is a drawbridge to his riverside home and a cannon which fires to entertain  his deaf     father as well as his guests.

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