Filmmakers have been adapting Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations in some form since 1917, so what’s the harm in one more, right? In the 2012 version, Jeremy Irvine abandons the wide-eyed innocence he bore during War Horse in order to portray the hardened orphan Pip as a young man, opposite Holliday Grainger (The Borgais) as the cold-hearted object of his affections, Estella.

This new interpretation of Great Expectations has much in common with Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre – judging by the international trailer for the former, it’s as gorgeously morose and hauntingly dark as the latter. Moreover, the two films are based on source novels regarded as classic examples of Victorian literature at its gloomiest (outside the horror genre, that is).

Great Expectations (2012) comes from screenwriter/author David Nicholls (Starter for 10, One Day) and director Mike Newell – the latter is better known (or, rather, widely-known) in the States for his big-budget fantasy adventures Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as Prince of Persia. However, Newell’s resume extends far beyond those Hollywood titles to films like Bad Blood and Donnie Brasco; some might even argue his true strength as a storyteller lies with grittier, period drama fare.

Newell’s adaptation of Dickens’ masterpiece certainly appears to earn the (let’s face it) overused label of grittier, as the trailer music only emphasizes – including, Danny Elfman’s Wolfman theme, used to similar effect in previews for last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. That’s another title the new Great Expectations recalls, with its dour visual style, slow-burn thriller pacing, and excellent cast of seasoned stars, like Ralph Fiennes as the convict Magwitch and Robbie Coltrane as Mr. Jaggers – not to mention, Helena Bonham Carter at her hollow-eyed, pale-faced freakiest as Miss Havisham, with a decaying wedding headpiece draped over her features.

For a still look at Great Expectations, check out the image gallery below:


In case you’re not familiar with Dickens’ book (and have never seen the South Park version): Great Expectations tells the tale of young orphan Pip, who climbs the ranks of London’s class-ridden social structure during the early 19th century, with assistance from a mysterious benefactor. Pip attempts to win over the heart of Estella, a lovely but heartless heiress he’s long carried a torch for (despite Estella being molded by her emotionally-damaged stepmother, Miss Havisham). Those efforts are sidelined when the dangerous truth about Pip’s financial guardian is revealed.

While Great Expectations (2012) looks promising, it has fierce competition for the period drama crowd during the upcoming awards season – with buzz-worthy titles like Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina (watch the trailer) and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables (watch the trailer), both of which also boast decorated casts. We’ll see if Newell’s film gains momentum after it shows at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

We’ll let you know when Great Expectations secures a U.S. release date.

Source: The Playlist