Skip’s Quips: If It Ain’t in the Book, It Might Work in the Movie

Blog Sketch 082813I’ve always been a bit bothered by the ending of David Lean’s otherwise masterful film of Great Expectations.

Pip winds up tearing the curtains off the windows to rescue Estella from a Miss Havisham-esque fate, and that just didn’t happen in the Charles Dickens novel.

The question is: Does it work in the context of the film? If so, maybe that’s not such a big problem after all.

I’m an advocate of that idea – that a scene need not be in the original source material to be warranted in a film version. Filmmakers change such content all the time in their adaptations of classic works for all kinds of reasons … sometimes, dare I say it, for the better. So why does it distress me so much in Lean’s version of GE?

It certainly makes a big impact at the end of the movie, and although I do find it somewhat melodramatic, the scene is very powerful. I think it’s also in line with the characters, as Estella was groomed by Miss Havisham to be … well, an awful person. Having her consider becoming her former mentor is an interesting way around the book’s ending, and Pip’s “rescue” ties her back to him in a romantic fashion.

Maybe I should watch this sequence again; sometimes, the more you get used to a film, the better it becomes. And I could definitely stand watching this great picture at least one more time. Especially if I’m looking to understand the ending better.

That just might happen.

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