Orphans, mysterious egalitarians and the life of the gentlemanly way are all founded in Great Expectations. It is the right period for this adaptation to release. When the period genre was finding its footing, the stuffy performances that followed seemed at home rather than out of place. Proper English and its spoken significance find their way through this adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel from David Lean. His work on Brief Encounter the year before had opened him up to the highs and lows of fleeting romance, and it does not feel all that out of place here, in this adaptation starring John Mills.
David Lean is a director synonymous with grand-scale filmmaking. Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai are two great examples of the now dormant epic genre, lengthy and mesmerising in every sense, they provided grandiose spectacle. I had never expected Lean to craft a short, beautiful and resoundingly simple romantic piece in the form of Brief Encounter. Frankly, when compared to his later works, this project feels like it should be a tad below him. Nevertheless, Lean is no stranger to crafting astoundingly great feature films, and his work with the romantic film Brief Encounter is a great, influential study of the simplistic intricacies of the genre.
In a somewhat randomly coincidental number of events, I’ve seen a handful of movies set in World War Two prison camps this month. Out of all of them, two are notable for what they can bring to the table. Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence was a tremendous story of rebellion in the face of unconquerable consequences, whilst The Bridge on the River Kwai was a strong tale of morale and the need to keep a level head in otherwise dangerous circumstances. Nearing its 65th anniversary, director David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai is an admirable feat, a fantastical film of epic proportions that brings out the very best in its leading performances.