Mr Pip is based on a story by a journalist reflecting on the experiences of Bougainville in 1989 and the aftermath of the closure of the copper mine there.
This New Zealand production has been adapted for the screen by the director, Andrew Adamson, director of the first two Shrek films and the first two Chronicles of Narnia films. The audience is immersed in the life of the village, the hardships of the blockade, the closure of the schools. Later in the film the action will move to Mt Isa in Queensland as well as to London.
In fact, the film opens in London where the central character, the 14-year-old girl grown to womanhood, Matilda (ZX) is visiting the Dickens Museum. Audiences will be wondering what the girl is doing in London. The film then moves to flashback and tells the story of the girl and her encounter with an Englishman, Mr Watts (Hugh Laurie making a strong impression). The core of the film is Mr Watts deciding to start some classes for the children on the island. He is not a teacher but has a profound love of Dickens, especially for Great Expectations. This seems an unlikely book for children on Bougainville. However, he begins to read and the children respond, especially with their imaginations and the development of comprehension.
Matilda responds very well to the novel, even to imagining herself in the situations of the novel, with Pip and Magwich in the cemetery, with Pip going to see Miss Haversham, with the grown-up Pip in London… The film is strong in showing the power of the storytelling, the power of the imagination, the possibilities for education with such storytelling.
In many ways, the film takes on too many issues, so that during the film the audience have to move dramatically from one to another, sometimes surprisingly, but, by the end, within the two hour running time, the audience does have the opportunity to consider all these issues - Peter Malone, ACOFB
Starring Hugh Laurie, Xzannjah, Healesville Joel, Eka Darville, Florence Korokoro and Kerry Fox, Emily Barclay. Directed by Andrew Adamson. 116 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes and violence).