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Discuss the Opening Scenes of David Leans' Film in Black and White Great Expectations

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Discuss the opening scenes of David Leans' Film in black and white Great Expectations

The film Great expectations, written by Charles Dickens and further directed by David Lean in 1946, follows orphan Pip on a dramatic journey through life. The film shot in black and white mirrors the Dickens style novel and produces a great viewing experience.

The film begins with jolly, light hearted music typical of its time, a technique applied by David Lean which tries to put the viewer in a positive mood right from the start. As we see the title graphics (written in a traditional font) fade, the music then changes tempo and becomes wary and dubious.

We then see a close up of the 1st page of the novel, accompanied by a voice over of an older pip who is reflecting back on his childhood. The novel is highlighted by soft lighting, suggesting 'memory' to the audience.

The opening scene commences with a vast mise en scene of Pip running through the marsh land at dusk. The small black figure of Pip contrasted against the bright moonlit sky suggests isolation, loneliness and vulnerability. The image of the hang mans nooses, sound effects of the howling wind and eerie music gives the sense of foreboding, and the feeling that something pivotal is going to take place.

The camera then cuts to the next scene of a graveyard, where again we hear more sound effects, this time the creaking of a tree in the wind which contributes a threatening atmosphere to the scene. Additionally, a midshot of Pip is used and whilst we see him tending a grave it is at this point we learn that he is in fact an orphan. The suspense continues to build after Pip turns his head in half light and through the melancholic atmosphere; we get the feeling that a significant event is prominent. There is a high angle shot of the trees; indicating fear and as the music starts to amplify the huge silhouette of Magwich is revealed, followed by sound of screaming from pip.

The contrast in lighting between the two characters varies. There is a close up of Pips scared face in half light, showing how petrified he is, whereas the convict is in shadow which suggests to the audience darkness and mysteriousness of his character.

We then see his hands clutching pips shoulders, and know that he is in control. We then realise that the convict's hands are covered in blood making the audience unsure and wary about what the convict has previously been doing and why he is here. Moreover the convicts face is in darkness to convey menace and evil.

The audience is then shocked as Pip is swiftly turned upside down and we hear the rattling of Magwichs's chains. The element of fear is then maintained as he threatens Pip by telling him that there is another convict who will eat his heart and liver out. The convict acts aggressively in order to show authority and frighten Pip, he then gives him and ultimatum.

There is full lighting on Pip, and the tension continues to increase. The film then returns to a mise en scene and the scene cuts as we move to Pips house. At the

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