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Tension In David Lean's Great Expectations

1636 words - 7 pages

Tension in David Lean's Great Expectations

In this essay I will be analysing the opening scene of David Lean's
version of 'Great Expectations' to see how tension is brought to the
screen. Great Expectations is a novel wrote by Charles Dickens in 1861
but set in 1812. The film version I will be analysing was produced in
1945.

In the scene I will be analysing, it shows a young boy, Pip visiting
the grave of his parents. While Pip is in the graveyard an escaped
convict grabs him and questions Pip and when he finds out that he is
living with a blacksmith he demands Pip to get him a file so he can
free himself and some "whittles" which are scraps of food. The scene
ends with Pip running off home. I will also be analysing the opening
credits and the short section where Pip as an elder reads the first
paragraph from the novel out to explain who he is. The techniques I
will be analysing in this scene are mise en scene, camera angles,
sound and lighting.

The first of these I will be analysing is mise en scene. Mise en scene
is everything that is put into the scene. This can make a big
difference to the signals we receive and can make us interpret the
scene in a set way. The first scene is set in a graveyard on a
deserted marsh land area; both of these settings are very spooky and
often associated with bad things. This immediately gets you on edge.
On one of the trees in the grave yard there appears to be a face this
gives you a felling that this place is strange and something is likely
to happen. The way Pip enters the graveyard shows that the place is
somewhere he doesn't want to be in. this is as he runs into the
graveyard and while there he is always looking round anxiously and is
rushing around. We see Pip in the scene dressed smartly with a scarf
showing it is cold. From the appearance the viewer would think that he
is a nice boy due to him being all clean, tidy and smartly dressed.
This contrasts to the convict who looks dirty and wears dirty clothes
and has a scary facial expression, this makes the convict seem
frightening. The weather added to the rundown look of the graveyard,
Pips actions in the graveyard as well as the appearance of the convict
sets the scene and makes you know something is going to happen.

The second area I will be analysing is camera angles, camera angles
can change the way you perceive a scene, for instance if a low angle
shot is used then it creates a feeling of power to the person or
object it is being used on. In this scene lots of P.O.V shots are
used. P.O.V shots are point of view shots; they show you what the
character is seeing through their eyes. This helps you too see how
scary the place is looking from hi eyes it is the way the director,
David Lean, makes you feel sorry for Pip. At the start of the scene
there is a long shot of Pip...

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