About The Story
GREAT EXPECTATIONS began its journey to the big screen when co-producer John Linson convinced his father, noted producer Art Linson, to remake the timeless tale
GREAT EXPECTATIONS began its journey to the big screen when coproducer
John Linson convinced his father, noted producer Art Linson, to
remake the timeless tale. "At first I thought it would be
too difficult to translate to modern times," says Art Linson.
"Then, after watching David Lean's version and rereading
the Dickens novel, I realized that the story had some wonderful
and timeless themes about coincidence, wanting things you can't
have, and trying to obtain respect. All these elements provided
the potential to turn a classic into a modern tale."
Linson turned to his longtime friend and collaborator Mitch
Glazer to write the screenplay. "At first, I couldn't figure
out how to update the story," recalls Glazer. "It seemed
so specific to Dickens' time, which was marked by a continuing
conflict between the aristocracy and the working class. But the
more I thought about it, I realized the film didn't have to be
about class at all."
Glazer's experiences growing up in Florida were a strong influence
on his screenplay. "I came up with the idea of the 'Pip'
character being a fisherman's nephew and stumbling upon this eccentric
Palm Beach matron," continues Glazer who, like the film's
central character, later migrated to New York. "My family
used to vacation in Palm Beach and I remembered these former showgirls,
millionaire women, trapped in huge mansions. They looked like
they were eighteenyearsold until they turned
around. I thought they would be a great way to update the 'Miss
Havisham' character. Once I had that, the rest of the story fell
Another inspirational childhood experience was a magical, sensual
kiss at a water fountain that Glazer remembers as "an electrifying
experience." However, it was the writer's elevenyearold
daughter, Shane, who really sparked his imagination. "Shane
enjoys drawing beautiful pictures," Glazer relates. "There
is something so pure about it. And I wondered, what if something
so pure were perverted through celebrity and success? That became
the idea of making Finn an artist who goes to New York to have
his own oneman art show and win Estella's love through fame
Careful not to aim for a literal remake of Dickens' novel, Glazer
altered the names of characters, except for 'Estella' for which
he claims there is no match. "Dickens' 'Magwitch' and 'Miss
Havisham' seemed too spectacular, almost untouchable to my ear,"
he insists. "I thought a modern equivalent would give us
Producer Art Linson sent Glazer's completed screenplay to Mexican
director Alfonso Cuaron. Linson had seen two of Cuaron's previous
films, the critically acclaimed "A Little Princess,"
Cuaron's American directing debut, and the more controversial
"Love in the Time of Hysteria," a Mexican comedy about
AIDS that garnered Cuaron much attention in Hollywood. "I
wanted GREAT EXPECTATIONS to have the magic of 'A Little Princess'
and the comic edge of 'Love in the Time of Hysteria'," Linson
says. "I also knew that Alfonso could give it size, make
it look like a 'big' movie, but the scale would come from his
eye and from his heart."
Despite Linson's persistent efforts to woo the director, Cuaron
was initially hesitant to take the helm of GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
"At first I told Art, 'No way,' he recalls, confiding that
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