Saturday, 31 December 2011
Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down for BBC's 'Great Expectations'
The opening scene, dripping and dank with the sight, sound and imagined smell of the marshes. Magwitch's appearance shocking but compelling. The boy Pip, emboldened through his fear.
The lack of humour throughout - humour so evident in Dickens even in the most serious of his works. Here its absence was most felt in the portrayal of the Gargerys - no simple sentimentality or touching gaucheness from Joe; Mrs Joe's harshness not reflected in the mirror of absurdity, and therefore not tempered as it is by Dickens. Herbet Pocket, enthusiastically played here by Harry Lloyd, but not the hilariously lovable character of the book - the fight scene between Hebert and Pip, for example, was robbed of all its comic potential, dismissed in one blow.
Miss Havisham's haunted appearance. The spectre of her beauty in Gillian Anderson's performance, more tortured as the years pass by.
The grown-up Pip all too poster beautiful; Estella (forgive my saying) not nearly beautiful or alluring enough. And Pip as a pouting, supercilious adult descends so far that we can't recover enough sympathy for him to cheer his redemption, such as it is.
David Suchet's Jaggers - his intelligence and smouldering scorn for Pip so well expressed in voice and eyes. His cutting precision - we can easily believe his success and reputation as a top London lawyer.
Miss Havisham's death - while applauding the BBC effects department I can't comprehend or forgive the decision to make this a deliberate act of self-immolation. Dickens means the fire as fate's revenge on Miss Havisham for the two lives she has tried to ruin; it is hellish retribution not willed oblivion.
Overall score: 7/10