David Lean is known for his film adaptations and Great Expectations is definitely one of the best, alongside his other work Lawrence of Arabia. Great Expectations was Lean’s first take on Dickens with Oliver Twist following 2 years later in 1948. He was nominated at the Academy Awards for Great Expectations and there are few faults throughout the film. As a fan of the original text by Charles Dickens I knew what to expect, however Lean kept me gripped with particular highlights in the fantastic set design, cinematography and great acting.
It’s perhaps not surprising just how middle of the road Lean’s depiction of the story is given the period of film Great Expectations comes out of. It is definitely much more entertaining than the failing and tedious modern adaptations of Dickens’ novel. The film feels genuine and a lot less pompous than period pieces in England can – although credit for this might need to be given to Dickens. You could go as far as to say Dickens is the original English realist. There have been many stories since but Great Expectations will always be the original and best ‘rags to riches’ tale to me.