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Great Expectations (1975)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A young boy, Pip, visits his parent's grave. Unexpectedly he is grabbed by Magwitch, an escaped convict still in his prison chains. Magwitch frightens Pip, forcing him toagree to steal some food and a file.

The next day Pip returns to the churchyard and offers Magwitch a pie, some liquor and the file. After this the boy is tormented by feelings of guilt, having stolen the items from his family. Magwitch is soon tracked down and taken back into custody. He exonerates Pip from any blame by claiming to have stolen the items himself.

Pip is invited to visit Satis House by Miss Havisham, an eccentric and deeply cynical old woman who was spurned by her fiancé many years before. She is guardian to Estella, an arrogant but beautiful young woman with whom Pip gradually falls in love.

Years later, when Pip is a young man, he and Joe Gargery are visited by a lawyer named Jaggers. Pip is told that he has been provided with a fortune by an unnamed wealthy benefactor. He moves to London in an attempt to be groomed as a gentleman.

In London Pip takes rooms with the young Herbert Pocket. He believes it is Miss Havisham he will one day have to thank for his good fortune. Until that is a stranger calls at his lodgings. It is Magwitch, who explains that in fact he is Pip's benefactor. After being caught on the marshes he was banished to Australia, where he became a successful farmer.

Pip and Herbert Pocket hide Magwitch in their apartment and plan to try to smuggle him out of the country, But Magwitch is spotted by another ex-convict. As Pip and Herbert row Magwitch out to the steamship, they are intercepted by the police. Magwitch struggles with the informer but falls overboard. He is dragged on board the police boat and ends his days in prison. Moments before his death Pip reveals that Magwitch had a daughter he never knew about - Estella. With Magwitch's death, Pip's fortune is lost.

Exhausted by his ordeals, Pip falls ill. As he gains strength he finds Joe Gargery has paid off the debts he has accrued. This revelation makes him realise he has undervalued his family. Despite this he travels to work with Herbert in India. Twelve years later he returns to his childhood home for Christmas. He walks over to Satis House, where he finds Estella more and more resembling Miss Havisham.

Pip persuades her to leave the house and together they walk away from their childhood haunt, arm in arm.