Great Expectations Movie Poster Image

Great Expectations

Dickens' suspenseful tale a great classic for 10+.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1947
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Pip steals from his house for a criminal. Pip's sister is abusive, saying she wishes she never had to care for him. Miss Havisham conspires to have Estella break Pip's heart. The overall message, however, is to be true to yourself, regardless of monetary wealth, and to show your true love no matter what.

Violence

Lots of foreboding and threats of violence, first by Magwitch, then by Pip's sister. Magwitch threatens to "have your heart and liver out" and to eat it. Pip's sister beats him with a switch. Estella slaps Pip on the face. Herbert and Pip box and Pip knocks Herbert down twice, causing him to bleed. Pip sees criminals get hanged. Miss Havisham's dress catches fire and she dies violently. Several men are nearly killed by a ship's engine.

Sex

Pip kisses Estella on several occasions, but only on the cheek.

Language

Lots of abusive language towards Pip, but no swearing.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The convict chugs brandy and later, Pip and Magwitch share a drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pip faces a lot of abuse, threats, and difficult situations, complete with foreboding music and characters who are scary to look at. Two main characters die (one engulfed in flames) and Pip nearly dies once. Pip sees criminals hanged. Estella and Miss Havisham are also models of man-hating women, which may offend both sexes and be worth discussing.

What's the story?

John Mills stars in GREAT EXPECTATIONS as the adult Pip, the orphan raised by his abusive sister (Freda Jackson) and kindly blacksmith brother-in-law (Bernard Miles). When as a child he's accosted by a fugitive (Findlay Currie) and brings him food and alcohol, Pip begins a journey he never would have expected. He meets the creepy Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt) at her cobwebbed wedding banquet, and the beautiful but cruel Estella. When he inherits a fortune, Pip tries to become the gentleman he's always wanted to be and to win Estella's cold heart. But will he be able to? And who is his mysterious benefactor?

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It's a classic, yes, and it's in black and white, but it's Dickens, so you can still keep your expectations great that kids will find something to capture their attention and imaginations here. Especially when they meet Pip, the incurably optimistic and big-hearted main character, and following him through all the crazy plot twists and turns.

Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations like many of his other works, as serials for magazines. That means they're set up with plenty of twists and cliffhangers to string readers along. This makes for an even more exciting story, full of mistaken identities, secrets, manhunts, and double-crosses -- all the things many young viewers love. And the characters are fascinating, right down to their names: Uncle Pumblychook, Magwitch, Havisham, Mr. Jaggers. Pip's family may be one J.K. Rowling's inspirations for the Dursleys, the mean guardians in Harry Potter.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Pip keeps his optimism throughout his life. How important is class standing to him? Why? Does he give up anything about himself to be the kind of gentleman he always wanted to be? Do you ever try to give up or ignore parts of yourself because you want others to like you? It's also a good opportunity to introduce children to the book Great Expectations.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 22, 1947
DVD/Streaming release date:January 12, 1999
Cast:Alec Guinness, John Mills, Valerie Hobson
Director:David Lean
Studio:Criterion Collection
Genre:Classic
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byGreat Expectations November 28, 2011

Great Expectations

It is a wonderful movie to watch with family.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old July 20, 2015

drama is well acted but lasts too long

This is a classic novel turned into a film. Common sense media says there's no swearing: but there is swearing. when the 2 convicts are having a fight, one of the soldiers calls them, ' dirty bastards. there's also a use of damn. Pip and Estella kiss passionately a few times, and there's jump shots, tense scenes, and arguing and yelling. overall, I think this is ok for kids 11 and up
Kid, 11 years old November 2, 2014

Fantastic!

Violence- 1 (Some scary scenes)
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence