The modern screenplay writer Mitch Glazer, to entertain a twentieth century audience, has recreated the nineteenth century novel, ‘Great Expectations’. Charles Dickens’ novel has been altered to allow the text to be portrayed within the time constraints of a film and to suit a contemporary audience. Mitch Glazer dramatises the original text by recreating the plot and themes to fulfil the expectations of a modern audience. These changes are reflected in the differences in the character names and setting, and the sensualism displayed through the relationship between Finn and Estella.
In Glazer’s film the main plot is changed from Dickens’ original idea of social comment to a love story between Estella and Finn. Glazer focuses on sensualism to attract a modern audience. In Dickens’ text Estella invites a kiss from Pip “You may kiss me if you like. “1 and turns her cheek. In Glazer’s film greater emphasis in placed on this scene, which turns into a sensual kiss at the fountain after Estella asks Finn if he wants a drink. Other parts in the film plot are also changed to suit the love story such as Estella inviting Finn to a party, meeting outside and going to Finn’s house.
These are examples of Glazer adapting the text to make it interesting to modern audiences. Another example is the sexual relationship between Finn and Estella. In Dickens’ original text the relationship was limited to two kisses. This shows that the new text has been changed to a love story to suit a contemporary audience. In both texts, Estella is arrogant and brought up to “break [men’s] hearts”2 by Miss Havisham/Dinsmoor. Unlike in the original text, Estella is extremely sensual, surprising Finn and giving him an unforgettable sensual experience at the fountain. Glazer takes the independence of Estella and develops this in the film.
She becomes a strongly independent young women who chooses her own behaviour. In the book she is bound by societies’ pressure to conform to it’s moral values. The inability of Walter to “control”3 her and Estella making love with Finn when she was still in a relationship with Walter shows this. Mitch Glazer alters characters to their modern equivalents, so the audience will be able to relate better to them. As a peck on the cheek transforms to a sensual kiss, we see the differences between the plot of the adapted text and the original unravelling in front of our eyes.
The language changes from nineteenth century English to twentieth century American vernacular. This is evident in Mr Jaggers’/ Mr Ragno’s speech which changes from “I am instructed to communicate to him… that he will come into handsome property. “4 to “I’m empowered by my client to make your dreams come true. “5 The language is changed to interest a modern audience. The language plays a major part in the contrasts between the original and the contemporary text. The setting differs from nineteenth century London to twentieth century New York Glazer varies this to involve to modern audiences.
As a result of this major change, other settings have been altered. Which has helped to adapt the story line of the film. An example of this is where Magwitch is caught. Magwitch is caught in the marshes fighting Compeyson in the original text, however in the recent text Lustig is caught swimming in the ocean headed for Mexico. Satis House becomes Paradiso Perduto and changes from a dark dank house lit only by candles to the screenplay writer’s perspective of an old house lit brightly by natural light. In the adaption of ‘Great Expectations’ Mitch Glazer changes the characters.
Many of the characters’ names alter such as Pip (Philip Pirrip) to Finn (Finnigen Bell). As Philip has become a common name, the composer may have had the intention of having Pip stand out and so changed his name to Finn. Other names may also have been changed for this reason like Magwitch to Lustig. Finn’s ambition changes from being a gentleman for Estella in the original text to an artist in the modern film. In the contemporary text Finn gives up art like Pip gives up trying to be a gentleman. Though the loss of hope is written into the texts at different points it is still a similar experience for both characters.
Both Finn and Pip get a new opportunity after their loss of hope. Finn is given an opportunity to go to New York to paint and Pip enters into Herbert’s company as a secretary. Miss Havisham is portrayed as a severe and heartless character. Unlike Miss Dinsmoor who is vibrant and colourful. Both characters are rich and eccentric old ladies who want Estella to be independent and “break [men’s] hearts”6. Miss Havisham is a dejected and revengeful lady who uses Estella to triumph over all men for her fianci??’s wrong doings. Unlike Miss Havisham, Miss Dinsmoor is vibrant, but still has a sad history and a vengeance for all men.
Although in the end Miss Dinsmoor becomes regretful over what she has done to Finn and Estella “What have I done? “7 These characters are changed to appeal to contemporary viewers, as a modern audience could relate better to Miss Dinsmoor than Miss Havisham. The screenplay writer’s perspective changes the novel into the modern text. Glazer takes the main theme of the novel and modernizes it to make it more alluring to a contemporary audience. Mitch Glazer uses his creativity to change aspects of Dickens’ original text to devise a love story between Finn and Estella.
Fewer themes and subplots are used in the film ‘Great Expectations’ as the time constraints of a movie make it difficult to incorporate these. New themes and subplots are intertwined into the new text to emphasise the love story between Finn and Estella. To do this, Mitch Glazer dramatises some aspects such as the first kiss at the fountain and omits other aspects such as Miss Havisham’s birthday. Some characters are omitted and others are added or changed. Mr Jaggers is changed into a modern equivalent of Mr Ragno and Wemmick and the aged parent are omitted.
The screenplay writer alters, adds or omits to change the novel into the modern text. From the original text, Mitch Glazer has made many changes to suit modern audiences. A main part of this is changing Charles Dickens’ original idea of commenting on nineteenth century social values to a love story between Finn and Estella. Americanisation of the text plays a major role especially in the language used and the setting, which is designed to appeal to modern audiences. When a peck on the cheek is transformed to a sensual kiss, the original text becomes a modern film.