Faces of an Adaptation: The ‘Great Expectations’ One


Dickens classics aren’t something I re-watch often, but those I’ve seen are always top shelf quality productions. As we approach this darker autumnal season, and in pressing onwards in our ‘adaptations’ series, it seems Dickens is as good a subject as any to next feature. Specifically our next is Great Expectations adaptation versions.

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This classic story is about a “ghostly” woman who, for years, wanders the dreary halls of her dust-covered home. In those years, she picks up a young ward, named Estelle, whom she teaches to loathe and misuse men. Then Miss Havisham decides that Estelle needs a companion, so she arranges for a young boy from the village to be a part of Estelle’s daily life. Pip is used to a hard life, as he already must live under the strict regime of his sister’s household, but meeting Estelle is the greatest thing to ever happen to him. In time, both children grown to adulthood, and find their lives intersect in unexpected places.

This isn’t a happy story, but there’s something almost “haunting” about this plot, and between the many versions, there’s plenty of impressive faces playing these parts. Today we’ll look at three of the adaptations because these are the ones I remember best, although I’m 90-some percent sure I did see the 80s version first. But with all this said, let’s have a look-see at the three versions I can remember, or those I actually just re-watched in order to write this.

Great Expectations Adaptation Faces

1: Great Expectations (1999)

Cannot remember when I saw this one but do know how I saw it, which was thanks to a friend back when Netflix still mailed discs to our mailboxes. With Ioan Gruffudd and Justine Waddell, this one is perhaps the least emotionally stimulating (it’s just so… desolate and void of emotion) – but it may also be the most “eerie.” Gruffudd’s Pip seems more invested in someone that is not Estella, which isn’t how I remember most of these adaptations.

Faces of an Adaptation: The ‘Great Expectations’ One. Talking about three of the Great Expectations adaptation versions. #Dickens #PeriodDrama #AmazonPrime #Movies Click To Tweet

The way this one ends is sort of open to interpretation and harkens back to a kind of childhood memory that once made Pip’s character, very happy. From Horatio Hornblower to Wives and Daughters, there’s an impressive cast list, and like anything, there’s pretty costuming to gaze at. ★★★

2: Great Expectations (2011)

Faces of an Adaptation: The ‘Great Expectations’ One. Talking about three of the Great Expectations adaptation versions. Text © Rissi JC

Part of the PBS Masterpiece Theatre line up, this three part miniseries is perhaps the best of the adaptations I’ve seen. This is a judgement I’m making solely on them as a production and not adaptation since, as usual, I didn’t read the novel. I always like when something is a bit longer to give more time with the characters, and this cast is fabulous too.

We see Gillian Anderson, Douglas Booth and Vanessa Kirby in the primary roles. ★★★★

3: Great Expectations (2012)

fun non-spooky movies

A feature directed by Mike Newell, this one has an almost harsh (in a different way) look to it, which is made possible by its costuming and the “look” of the period piece. OIt’s also got the most “contemporary” appearance that even borders on steampunk. (Yes, I realize I’m mixing a lot of things.) Featuring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, they co-star with the new kids, Holliday Grainger and Jeremy Irvine. ★★★1/2

What about you all; have you seen these Great Expectations adaptation versions? Is there a favorite you watch time and again, or is this not a story you enjoy? Comment all of your thoughts down below.


Faces of an Adaptation: The ‘Great Expectations’ One. Talking about three of the Great Expectations adaptation versions. Text © Rissi JC

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About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I don’t remember seeing the one with Helena Bonhome Carter. My favorite is the older one with Alec Guiness as the friend of Pip.

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