ⓘ Great Expectations (2012 film)


ⓘ Great Expectations (2012 film)

Great Expectations is a 2012 British film adaptation of Charles Dickens 1861 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mike Newell, with the adapted screenplay by David Nicholls, and stars Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane. It was distributed by Lionsgate.

Nicholls adapted the screenplay after being asked to work on it by producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, with whom he had worked on And When Did You Last See Your Father?. Helena Bonham Carter was asked to appear as Miss Havisham by Newell, and accepted the role after some initial apprehension, while Irvine was initially intimidated by the thought of appearing on screen as Pip.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in the UK on 30 November 2012.


1. Cast

  • Toby Irvine, the younger brother of Jeremy Irvine, as young Pip.
  • Jeremy Irvine as Pip, an orphan. Irvine gained the role of Pip, having previously starred in Steven Spielbergs adaptation of War Horse, which Irvine described as his big break, having previously appeared in minor roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Irvine found the role intimidating, but said that he "wanted to make my character Pip stronger and more driven than how hes been played in adaptations before".
  • Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch, a criminal who changes Pips life. Fiennes hadnt read a great deal of Dickens work prior to gaining the role. Following the filming of Great Expectations, he moved onto another Dickens-related role, both directing and playing the author himself in The Invisible Woman.
  • Robbie Coltrane as Mr Jaggers, a lawyer responsible for handling Pips money. Great Expectations was Coltranes first Dickens-related role. He had been offered the role of Mr. Micawber in an adaptation of David Copperfield some years previously, but was unable to take it. Coltrane described Jaggers as a "heartless bastard", and was pleased to be able to deliver the line to Pip about "great expectations", which took several takes to perfect.
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, wealthy spinster who has taken up a life of seclusion following the loss of her love and Pip suspects his benefactor. Bonham Carter was concerned about playing the role of Miss Havisham and questioned Mike Newell when he phoned her to talk about taking the part. She was worried about the typical appearance of the character, describing her as a pensioner in a bridesmaids dress. Newell assured her that she was the right age, as the character in the book is in her forties, and she accepted the role.
  • Helena Barlow as young Estella
  • Jason Flemyng as Joe Gargery, Pips brother-in-law and legal guardian. Flemyng was pleased to be able to appear in a film which he could take his children to see, and thought itd be great for the Christmas period.
  • Holliday Grainger as Estella; Newell encouraged Grainger to bring sensuality to her role. Grainger has said in interviews that the role was the one which she has coveted more than any other. She had first read the book at the age of 15, and found that it took a second reading to best understand the character. Grainger had previously worked with Bonham Carter in Magnificent 7, a 2005 BBC drama.
  • David Walliams as Uncle Pumblechook, Joe Gargerys uncle, and provides a route for Pip to be in touch with Miss Havisham. Walliams brought his mother along to the films premiere.
  • Sally Hawkins as Mrs Joe
  • Tamzin Outhwaite as Molly
  • Bebe Cave as young Biddy
  • Ewen Bremner as Wemmick
  • Jessie Cave as Biddy
  • Daniel Weyman as Arthur Havisham
  • Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Bentley Drummle
  • Olly Alexander as Herbert Pocket
  • Edward George Fleming as Charles Pocket

2.1. Production Development

The film is the seventh film version of Charles Dickens novel. David Nicholls was asked to develop the screenplay after he had worked on the 2007 film And When Did You Last See Your Father?, and while he was working on an adaptation for television of Thomas Hardys Tess of the dUrbervilles for the BBC. He had worked with producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley on the 2007 film, and they approached him to work on Great Expectations. During the development of the film, Nicholls published the novel One Day, which was subsequently adapted into a film in 2011. Nicholls described in interviews that he saw Dickens work as his childhood defining novel, having first read the book when he was fourteen and it having since remained his favourite. He also praised the 1946 version, directed by David Lean.

Mike Newell was looking to develop Dickens Dombey and Son for the screen, but after it didnt go ahead, he was told about Nicholls script. The two worked together on further developing the screenplay and finding the funding for the film. Nicholls thought there was a problem with choosing the ending for the film, as Dickens wrote both a downbeat ending and a more positive version. He described their solution as, "What weve tried to do is to make it work as a love story without sentimentalising the book", having criticised the ending of the David Lean version.


2.2. Production Filming

The former headquarters of Gillette on the A4 road was used as the main filming location. The interior was transformed into a Victorian era street scene.

The production also shot many scenes in Kent including St Thomas a Becket Church in Fairfield, Swale Nature Reserve Shellness, Oare and Elmley Marshes, Stangate Creek, The Historic Dockyard in Chatham and Thames and Medway Canal.


3. Release

The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2012. The European premiere was the closing night gala of the 2012 BFI London Film Festival which took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on 21 October 2012. Both Helena Bonham Carter and her husband, Tim Burton, were inducted into the British Film Institute Fellowship at the event. In the UK, advance screenings were scheduled for 26 November 2012, with the nationwide release date of 30 November as a 12A rated release.


4. Reception

Great Expectations received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 64%, based on 76 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "Not the best version of the oft-filmed Dickens classic but far from the worst, Mike Newells Great Expectations breathes just enough life into the source material to justify yet another adaptation." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 60 out of 100, based on 23 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".