Great Expectations (Blu-ray) (1946)

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Released 8-Dec-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1946
Running Time 118:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Lean

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring John Mills
Anthony Wager
Valerie Hobson
Jean Simmons
Bernard Miles
Francis L. Sullivan
Finlay Currie
Martita Hunt
Alec Guinness
Ivor Barnard
Freda Jackson
Eileen Erskine
George Hayes
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $18.95 Music Walter Goehr
Kenneth Pakeman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If you think of David Lean you may be aware that he was a) British and b) a film director. If you have realised these two things then you may remember that he was responsible for three notable epic films in the 1950s and 1960s: The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. What you may not realise is that prior to working in Hollywood Lean directed three other significant films in the 1940s: Brief Encounter and two of Charles Dickens' novels, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. His adaptations of Dickens' works still remain the most highly critically-regarded efforts of bringing Dickens' work to film, even sixty years after they were made. In 1999 the British Film Institute selected seven of Lean's films in their Top 100 British films of all time. Great Expectations was voted 5th.

    Great Expectations was written and published by Charles Dickens in 1860-61. It tells the story of a young boy Pip who is orphaned and lives with his sister Mrs Joe, who is cruel to Pip, and her husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith, who is appreciably much kinder to Pip than his wife. One day an escaped convict Abel Magwitch forces young Pip to help run from the law by making him steal food and drink out of fear. Young Pip helps Magwitch escape and the incident is forgotten, until much later in the future. As Pip grows up he is introduced to a wealthy spinster, Miss Havisham who was forsaken at the altar by her bridegroom and is bitter. She has in her care a young girl Estella who she teaches to be wary of romantic relationships. Although Miss Havisham warns Pip of this, he still falls in love with Estella.

    In adulthood Pip believed that he would follow in his brother-in-law's trade as a blacksmith, instead he learns that a mysterious benefactor has sponsored him to go to London and learn to be a gentleman. He initially thinks that this person is Miss Havisham, later on he is surprised that it is not, rather it turns out that Abel Magwitch became wealthy in New South Wales and he remembered Pip for his kindness all those years ago. Initially Pip feels shame because he did not regard Magwitch as a person worthy of respect, later he realises that his lust for material wealth and related respect to Miss Havisham, who he thought was his benefactor, was completed unfounded. Pip comes to have genuine feelings for Magwitch as a father figure in his life, unfortunately the law catches up with Magwitch again and here Pip learns the meaning of losing his 'great expectation' of wealth from Magwitch, as Magwitch's inheritance becomes the property of the Crown upon his death.

    Great Expectations still has moral and ethical resonance today, much like Shakespeare's works the themes are universal and often tragic. In my opinion, the source of the story for Charles Dickens is no doubt the infamous Australian spinster, Eliza Emily Donnithorne who was left at the altar in 1846 and was said to have left her wedding cake and banquet decorations intact in her Newtown house in Sydney until her death in 1886 in 'expectation' of the return of her bridegroom.

    David Lean's film is remembered for the great acting of its participants including John Mills (who was a bit old at 38 to play Pip, but still did a good job), Alec Guinness as Pip's friend Herbert Pocket, Jean Simmons as the young Estella, Valerie Hobson as the adult Estella, Finlay Currie as Abel Magwitch and Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham. The ending is slightly different than the novel, although this may be defended on account that the film portrays the implied ending of Dickens' book.

    Great Expectations has been adapted to film eighteen times since the birth of television and cinema and this version is the first release of the film onto Blu-ray in our Region.

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Transfer Quality


    This Blu-ray transfer of Great Expectations is similar to Brief Encounter. Both films look much sharper on Blu-ray but they have not received full frame-by-frame digital restorations.

    The aspect ratio is 1:33:1 full frame. The video transfer is 1080p encoded with the VC-1 codec on a single-sided Blu-ray disc.

    Great Expectations looks a great deal sharper than previous release on DVD in Region 1 by Criterion and Region 2 by Carlton.

    The black-and-white cinematography is presented here with more consistent contrast and detail of tones and shadow.

    There are still minor film artefacts and lines present in the transfer. These are consistent throughout, but minor.

    Subtitles are provided in English

    There is no RSDL change applicable as the film is presented on a single-sided Blu-ray disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio track is similar to previous audio transfers onto DVD in Regions 1 and 2, only it is louder on Blu-ray slighter because of the increased bitrate.

    There is one audio soundtrack in English. It is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 640 kbps.

    Dialogue is clear, audible and synchronised.

    Walter Goehr's string score is adequate, but this audio mix doesn't sound as dynamic as it may be if it was fully restored. Nonetheless, at least the dialogue is clear from background noise and hiss.

    There is surround channel usage in the audio mix.

    The subwoofer is not utilised either.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Unfortunately, there are no extras on this Blu-ray release. Then again, there have never been a plethora of extras on previous releases of David Lean's Great Expectations either.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Blu-ray release of Great Expectations by Beyond Home Entertainment is identical to the United Kingdom Region All release by ITV. The Beyond Home Entertainment version on Blu-ray is similarly 'region-free'.


    David Lean's 1946 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations won two Oscars for Best Art direction and Best Cinematography. At around $15 to $18 at your local DVD retailer this presentation of the film on Blu-ray represents great value for a timeless story and a great film. Although there are no extras, this Blu-ray is still highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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