Great Expectations

Season 1
 (1,220)
7.52012TV-PG
Based on the classic Charles Dickens novel, this lavish adaptation follows Pip, an orphan who becomes a gentleman when his life is transformed by a mystery benefactor.
Starring
Ray WinstoneDavid SuchetDouglas Booth
Genres
Kids
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English

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  1. 1. Great Expectations - Episode 1
    April 1 2012
    59min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    A terrifying encounter on the marshes with an escaped convict and a summons from the mysterious Miss Havisham change orphan Pip's life forever.
  2. 2. Episode 2
    December 27 2011
    59min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Pip's new life begins in London, a gentleman at last.
  3. 3. Great Expectations - Episode 3
    April 8 2012
    59min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Pip wants nothing to do with Magwitch and rushes to confront Miss Havisham.

More details

Directors
Brian Kirk
Supporting actors
Claire Rushbrook
Producers
BBC
Season year
2012
Network
BritBox
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

1220 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Bookish GalReviewed in the United States on November 20, 2017
3.0 out of 5 stars
Not faithful to the book, but pretty to look at
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I watched each episode of this adaptation immediately after reading the corresponding section of the book, so I can say with absolute certainty that it does not follow the source material very well. I always wonder at screenwriters who feel they can improve on Dickens, he gives you most of the dialogue and it is brilliant - so use it...and the plot! The changes made from the book were not just for time compression either, but some were completely unnecessary. I also watched the 2013 version with Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes and it is far, far, more faithful to the book with a lot of original dialogue and fewer major changes. If you want a truer adaptation go with that one.

That being said, as a standalone film experience this is fine. It is well acted and visually stunning. It just isn't really Dickens.
30 people found this helpful
Thomas MartinReviewed in the United States on July 9, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A valid and moving version of the great novel!
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If you're a Dickens purist, you'll probably hate this film - it's not Dickens' "Great Expectations" - it's a different take on the classic novel (staying within in the basic framework of the story; major characters, etc.), but it creates a very haunting, atmospheric representation of the novel. Gillian Anderson is memorable as Miss Havisham; Ray Winstone is frightening as Magwitch, and Daniel Booth is a beautiful Pip.. The film accurately portrays the decay of Satis House, Miss Havisham, the forge, the marsh, and London. The film is memorable; it's a different take on Dickens, but its valid.
16 people found this helpful
Janice SimsReviewed in the United States on June 10, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Doesn't completely adhere to the book, but it's still good
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I recently re-read Great Expectations and this adaptation is a departure from the book in small points but, for the most part, keeps close to the meat of the story. One of my favorite characters in the book, the cheerful and supportive, Biddy, was nowhere in this adaptation. As a writer myself, I can understand that you cannot include everything in a novel in a film, or in this case, a miniseries. The actors were good, especially Gillian Anderson who is wonderful as Miss Havisham.
6 people found this helpful
Reliable ReviewsReviewed in the United States on November 13, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Moves along well.
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I liked this version of "Great Expectations" 2011, TV-mini-series, with Ray Winston as Abel Magwitch, and David Suchet as Jaggers. I also liked the "Great Expectations" version 2012, with Ralph Fiennes, and Holliday Granger, a redhead as Estella on the cover. I also like "Great Expectations" 1946, with John Mills, and Alec Guinness. These are all good, and different enough to be interesting even if you have seen the other versions. I have seen a couple of other versions of this title that I did NOT like.
6 people found this helpful
A & BReviewed in the United States on February 27, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Well worth the time to watch!!
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Want suspense, drama, and fantastic acting, this has got it!! Of course being a PBS release says a lot and I've seen several versions of this by other studios as well as having to read the book for High School English (hated the story then) but "Scully" has really proven how well she can act besides for a TV sitcom. I've bought a few more of her movies since them. What surprised me, my husband really liked it too, so it's not a chick flick by any means, the whole family can watch it!
One person found this helpful
Robert K. PavlickReviewed in the United States on March 7, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
More Than I Expected
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I think that this is absolutely one of the best versions of "Great Expectations" that I have seen to date. I know that some professional reviewers have labeled this made for TV version as pretty bleak and uninspiring, but I guess that depends on what you are looking for. There is nothing "pretty" or "festive" about Dicken's book, so why would a director want to turn it into some kind of pretty and elegant extravaganza like a Jane Austin novel ?

"Great Expectations" IS bleak and it is almost as much about the jilted bride, Miss Havisham, as it is about young Pip. I think that Gillian Anderson does a marvelous job at portraying Miss Havisham as a woman who has been totally destroyed by love and now has devoted her entire life to grooming her young prodigy, Estella ,to win the hearts of men and then destroy them. I find her blank stare and listlessness and her delivery of those incredible lines about love and beauty and deception, remarkable. I have actually known people like her, suffering from clinical depression, who act exactly like that. Her line: "Time stands still here, yet everything turns to dust", is a classic line, which exemplfies her feelings that even if you could stop time, beauty will ultimately age and wither and turn to dust.

The plot, as in most Dickens works, is complex and convoluted with plots within plots so one does need to pay attention. I think that the director delt accurately with the class distinctions of those days and the abject poverty of uneducated rural people. And he,interestingly enough, displayed that there was good and evil at both ends of the spectrum. This is a marvelous study in human nature, showing how people tend to do themselves in by spending their lives in passivity, merely reacting to situations rather than taking charge of their lives and creating situations that will lead to their success and happiness.
16 people found this helpful
Chuck BradyReviewed in the United States on December 29, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Great Classic
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PBS Masterpiece really does great productions and "Great Expectations" was no exception. The characters in this movie were also used in the Dickensian production. Ms. Havisham, Pip and Estella were brilliant characters and the interacting between each character. This movie had a few twists and turns which made it very exciting to watch. I liked the ending even though Pip and Estella didn't get married in the end.
3 people found this helpful
RissiReviewed in the United States on April 24, 2012
4.0 out of 5 stars
Best Adaptation of 'Great Expectations' Yet
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Everyone I know who likes British costume dramas seemed either beyond excited for this production or had seen it and thought it was as beautiful as it was haunting. Because such accolades came from people whose opinions I may not always agree with but do trust I was really excited to get my hands on this. I had seen two versions prior to this and although I much preferred the newer Masterpiece adaptation of the two, neither one gripped me in the way that so many Dickens productions have. That is primarily the reason I was so anxious to get my hands on this version.

Young Pip only has one protector. Orphaned, the boy lives with his stern sister but her kind-hearted blacksmith husband, Joe (Shaun Dooley) has always been Pip's hero. Following an odd encounter with an escaped convict named Magwitch (Ray Winstone) on a cold Christmas day, Pip's whole world is about to change. Everything he thought he wanted is now nothing but a past. The recluse and mysterious Miss Havisham wishes for a young boy to come once a week as a kind of playmate to her young impetuous adopted daughter. The locals are still intrigued by the wealthy matron whose past has caused her to lock herself away in a dilapidated old estate. Choosing to go, Pip is swept into the strange woman's world. Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson) is a woman still used to getting what she wants - her home is shrouded in more than dust and shadows as she walks around bare-footed in a ratty old wedding gown. It is young Estella that Pip quickly loses his young heart to. The teenage beauty is nearly as cold as her mother but the naïve Pip is drawn into their world to the point of wanting to live it. Assuming Miss Havisham wants to settle money on Pip, his sister couldn't be more thrilled but much to Pip's disappoint after weeks that turned into months of weekly visits, instead the woman pays for his apprenticeship to train in the trade of balcksmith effectively putting an end to his visits with Estella.

Years pass and Pip (Douglas Booth) grows into a fine-looking man with little potential to become a gentleman. Out of nowhere, a well-known London attorney named Jaggers (David Suchet) informs Pip that a mysterious benefactor has settled a large fortune on him. There are stipulations: Including never inquiring who his benefactor is until he reaches his majority but Pip immediately assumes it is Miss Havisham. Being a man now with prospects, Pip leaves for London but is still ensnared in her web - he is pulled back to the house and into the dark secrets surrounding it when Estella (Vanessa Kirby) returns from finishing school in Paris needing an escort... leading Pip to again pine for Estella.

It is hard to know where to begin in a production such as this. The opening frame - and beyond of this mini-series is pure brilliance. It puts every single one of our senses alert. The filming and set creates a dangerous, mysterious scene only intensified set on the dark, dank marsh land with characters whose purpose and intent we do not yet understand. Naturally if one is privy to the book, everyone is not just familiar with the players but who they will become - for me that did not lessen the intrigue even being familiar with the story via film adaptations. The direction and acting were still beyond compare. If you are unfamiliar with the plot, much of this will seem a tad... um... perhaps, crazy but the strange thing about Dickens is that his novels are so complex and mysterious but each always have points, meanings to every motivation. He was truly a brilliant author.

Having seen two prior versions to this one, this is - by far, the best of the lot. Although I've not read the novel (am I the only one who finds the language... difficult?), a 3-hour miniseries is probably cutting a lot of corners but it felt "complete" and authentic to its purpose. Pacing comes across as a bit "off" or rushed a time or two but then cramming a lengthy, droning novel into a time slot cannot be an easy feat. For that, scripter's deserve slack. One thing production did not skimp on was casting. The acting is brilliant in this movie - particularly from Gillian Anderson. She owns the role of Miss Havisham. The character is a ghostly shell of a woman whose disappointment has been allowed to rule her life - it has manifested into misery at the least and suicidal tendencies at the worse. Her fragile passive-aggressive attitude is a prison of her own making, instead of moving on and "being happy" as Pip once tells her she could have been. Her portrayal of the woman is not likely to be beat in the near future - not even the talented Helena Bonham-Carter will be likely surpass her interpretation. Sometimes, when there is one domineering performance, everyone else pales in comparison, that is fortunately not the case here. Everyone holds their own including newcomers Booth and Kirby. He is naïve and conceited to be a strong version of Pip while Kirby is appropriately alluring and cold in a two-dimensional act. Each of the performances is unforgettable in their own right.

It is hard to "like" any Dickens-esque story because of its themes, and this is not different. It shows how deeply flawed human nature can be - at its worst. It reflects on the sorrows, regrets and tragedies that make life... life. It re-counts the choices that lead to despair and ruin, and leads us to believe that no one is going to be happy because of the choices they have made. Despite having something to live for, Miss Havisham turns her back not just on life but a young girl who could have used love and the affection of a mother instead of the training to become a woman who would grow up to hate men, and consequently be nearly as miserable as the woman who raised her. Despite this being my favorite adaptation of this story, it's not my favorite Dickens film. Anyone who has experienced his works knows each are merely quirky at best but innately depressing and sometimes pure evil lives within the story. Dickens seems in a class that was all his own. Paid by the word, the author wrote characters that strangely nearly always resembled their surnames and were always "weird" but curiously loveable - even if his villains were strictly nasty. This production does not have the same "bite" as prior movies. There aren't the usual troubling shivers Dickens can sometimes cause and fortunately, for the audience, despite its ending still being ambiguous, and slightly seeming to have been cut short, it will make romantics sigh with pleasure. Not to mention, the costuming is gorgeous and even in some instances, breathtaking. That alone gives this film "five stars."

Whatever you think of him or his style, know this: Great Expectations, whether changed from the novel or not is distinctively Dickens. Make no mistake.

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5 people found this helpful
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