This film is overlooked a lot. It shouldn’t be.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS, released in 1998 and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is a film that sometimes comes up in a drunken conversation among film school colleagues. Sure enough, a few weeks ago over libations, my friends and I agreed: “GREAT EXPECTATIONS is a fucking great movie. Nobody ever talks about that movie anymore!” And I was all like, “I’ll blog about it!”
So, I’ll blog about it.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS is a minor work by Cuarón by now. At its release, it generally carried a teeny-bopper-magnet reputation, with Paltrow and dreamboat Ethan Hawke driving the star vehicle.
The film is gorgeous, and notably well-designed.
Here’s a short list of the great things in GREAT EXPECTATIONS, subjects in no quality order:
1. The Green. It’s So Literally Green.
Did you need an example of color as motif? Did you need to get your geek on, with color-theory-as-seen-in-film? Then you need to watch GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Cuarón is/was known for using green a lot, as a personal visual preference – the color also has a strong presence in THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1995). It seems to be used simply as a style device.
Since the color green is omnipresent, it has no emotional or narrative significance within the film. The enforced color palette does lend a dream-like quality to the mise-en-scene.