A Tale of Two Surprises

Well, I have really enjoyed watching both versions of Great Expectations!

Here is an amazing website about both literature and film... among many other treasures it reviews five film versions of the book.  The 1944 version, called “Lean expectations” is given first, and the 1999 version, which he calls “Unfulfilled expectations”. I do not entirely agree with his review of the latter.

I expected to hate the new movie, but much to my surprise really enjoyed it. The description on the VHS box lists two thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert, but also calls it “a wildly romantic tale of desire and passion…  dearest hopes… darkest fears… a lush portrait of two people from different worlds who are linked by destiny and fated to touch each other’s souls.” Ouch!  Harlequin Romance! The trailer and the episode I linked from YouTube actually lowered my expectations; I often find film adaptations vastly inferior to the reading experience; and modern adaptations of Shakespeare have left me wanting to scream. But Anne Bancroft’s brilliantly madcap interpretation of Miss Havisham makes me want to watch it again, and the “chemistry” between Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow is quite convincing.  The transposition of satire about class snobbery to artistic snobbery works well.  London becomes New York, the English marshes become a Florida backwater, the blacksmith becomes a fisherman and handyman, and the river becomes the subway.  Social and sexual mores have changed.  How could a modern version of Estella not use  sex instead of snobbery to drive her victim mad!? It is all quite clever.  I think that Dickens, who was not above pandering to popular taste (he changed the ending to suit his public), and who seems to relish exaggeration and melodrama, would quite approve.

The home page links to many books and films… I am delighted to have found it, and will go back to it often! The site, hosted by  ” Editor Eric … also known as Eric McMillan, a writer, editor and publisher based in Toronto,”  appears to be an excellent source of information about Canadian Literature as well!

So here are two surprises: a movie I enjoyed against all expectation, and a new website to explore about books and movies!

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