My Bodacious Blog

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon Is an Outstanding Fantasy Fiction Debut by Angela Stever

Book Review Title: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of BarsiconAuthor:  Angela SteverImprint: Tellwell TalentReleased: October 30, 2021Pages: 284ISBN-13: 978-0228863120Stars:  4.00 Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon is new, young adult, LGBTQ-friendly fantasy/dystopian science-fiction for the 21st-century by well-known Kingston, Ontario radio host, Angela Stever. The book’s hero, Seneca Ellis-Brant, is a girl just turning 16 years old, andContinue reading “Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon Is an Outstanding Fantasy Fiction Debut by Angela Stever”

Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-pandemic Gig Economy Offers a First-Rate Fail-Proof Career Strategy

Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-pandemic Gig Economy Offers a First-Rate Fail-Proof Career Strategy Book Review Title: Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-Pandemic Gig EconomyAuthor:  M. Michelle NadonImprint: FriesenPressReleased: July 6, 2021Pages: 252ISBN-13: 978-1039126480Stars:  5.00 Recently, a dear friend and colleague, public and media relations specialist Irene Carroll, invitedContinue reading “Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-pandemic Gig Economy Offers a First-Rate Fail-Proof Career Strategy”

Chocolate Cake by ZOOM with Shawn Kellerman Is Life-Affirming Party Blues

ALBUM REVIEW Title: Chocolate CakeArtist:  ZOOM with Shawn KellermanLabel: Mouhaha MusicReleased: 2021Reviewer: Christine BodeStars:  4.5 In 2019, when the world was a different place, I attended a Kingston Blues Society show at the RCHA Club in which Shawn Kellerman played with Jerome Godboo and his band. I had seen Godboo a few times and had heard of Kellerman butContinue reading “Chocolate Cake by ZOOM with Shawn Kellerman Is Life-Affirming Party Blues”

David Leask Announces “FIRE & ICE” Video Release from CFMA-Nominated album, Voyageur in Song

“Voyageur In Song is something truly special…the album is a unique and uplifting, almost spiritual listening experience…that rare thing, a genuinely inspiring album.” ~ R’N R Magazine “Possibly the most Canadian album on Canada’s most historic instrument.” ~ Toronto Star “FIRE & ICE” Video AVAILABLE NOW at Youtube.com/DavidLeaskMusic Toronto, ON – Dec. 2, 2021 –Continue reading “David Leask Announces “FIRE & ICE” Video Release from CFMA-Nominated album, Voyageur in Song”

Your 2021 Sultans of String Christmas Caravan Playlist and Tour

3x JUNO nominees and Billboard-charting SULTANS OF STRING serve up Global Grooves & Holiday Cheer with their 2021 CHRISTMAS CARAVAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST and TOUR! YOUTUBE PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/sultanschristmasplaylist SPOTIFY PLAYLIST https://tinyurl.com/mwyhr32w  LISTEN/BUY ALBUM https://sultansofstring.lnk.to/THc3VID Canadian band Sultans of String keeps imaginative imperatives in overdrive for the entirety of Christmas Caravan, a generous pitch for global unity through the music of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. TheseContinue reading “Your 2021 Sultans of String Christmas Caravan Playlist and Tour”

New Album by SULTANS OF STRING, Sanctuary (The Refuge Project), Transports Listeners to Ethereal Plane with Musical Alchemy

ALBUM REVIEWby Christine Bode Just when I thought that Sultans of String couldn’t devise a more ambitious and exciting project than their 2020 album, Refuge, they proved me wrong with the second installment of this project entitled Sanctuary. It is an equally ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionate album with a VIP roster of global ‘ambassadors’,Continue reading “New Album by SULTANS OF STRING, Sanctuary (The Refuge Project), Transports Listeners to Ethereal Plane with Musical Alchemy”

Sultans of String Release Second Single from Upcoming Album, Sanctuary: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) featuring Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka

Sultans of String Release Second Single from Upcoming Album, Sanctuary: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) featuring Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Artist: Sultans of StringSingle: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) feat. Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed MonekaRelease date: October 8, 2021 from upcoming album, Sanctuary (releasing Nov 10) BRANDContinue reading “Sultans of String Release Second Single from Upcoming Album, Sanctuary: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) featuring Tara Salah Moneka & Ahmed Moneka”

Book Review: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL by Shane Scott, a Writer to be Reckoned With

Book Review Title: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALLAuthor:  Shane ScottImprint: Self-publishedReleased: February 6, 2021Pages: 499ISBN-13: 978-1735518213Stars:  3.5 Gods, Devils, Titans, Dragons, Angels, Demons, Bool (a.k.a. Werewolves), Vampires, and Mortals all inhabit the fantastical worlds created by gifted author Shane Scott in his debut novel, God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL. At the beginning of each chapter,Continue reading “Book Review: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL by Shane Scott, a Writer to be Reckoned With”

Sultans of String Launch New Weekly Online Interview & Music Series: BACKSTAGE

New weekly livestream kicks off Friday with new video/single! Sultans of String are excited to announce… BACKSTAGE! Their new online Interview & Music series features guests from their Refuge and Sanctuary albums. Join Sultans of String each Friday at Noon EST on Facebook as they dive into the lives and the music of these fascinating artists,Continue reading “Sultans of String Launch New Weekly Online Interview & Music Series: BACKSTAGE”

Too Close to Heaven: A Poem by Christine Bode for Those Suffering With Their Mental Health

Do you or someone you know feel as if you’re getting too close to heaven? Do you feel that life is unbearable on this crazy blue planet and that you don’t know how much longer you can live here? I have felt that way too, I assure you. Acutely aware that an innumerable amount ofContinue reading “Too Close to Heaven: A Poem by Christine Bode for Those Suffering With Their Mental Health”

Exclusive Review of Finny McConnell’s (The Mahones) Debut Solo Album, The Dark Streets of Love

I’m honoured to be the first person to review Finny McConnell’s (The Mahones) debut solo album, The Dark Streets of Love!

After 30 glorious years of leading worldwide, renowned Celtic punk rockers, The Mahones—who have shared stages and toured with the likes of Dropkick Murphys, Shane MacGowan (The Pogues), Stiff Little Fingers, Billy Bragg, The Buzzcocks, Sinead O’Connor, and The Damned to name a few—Finny McConnell decided that it was time to make an album for himself as he winds down and adjusts to his “Van Morrison years”, although I’m sure he has enough piss and vinegar left in him that he will not go quietly or gently into the night.

Fantasy Book Review and Author Interview: A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1) by P.L. Stuart

Fantasy Book Review Title: A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1)Author:  P.L. StuartPublisher: FriesenPressReleased: February 2, 2021Pages: 404ASIN: B08VS15WTRBook Reviewer: Christine BodeStars:  4 Othrun, son of King Atalan the Falcon, the Second Prince, and estranged half-brother to Erthal, the First Prince (sons of the pear-shaped island kingdom of Atalantyx), narrates this epic taleContinue reading “Fantasy Book Review and Author Interview: A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1) by P.L. Stuart”

3x JUNO Nominees and Billboard Charting SULTANS OF STRING Commemorate the Anniversary of the 1988 OJHRI CAMP Disaster With New Video From Their REFUGE Project

WHEN: Video Premiere – Friday April 9, 2021 at 10:30 am ESTSONG: Ojhri Camp, from album Refuge Sultans of String, featuring Anwar Khurshid & Ravi Naimpally Go to the video on YouTube at this link https://youtu.be/L4TQs_WGbNI to SET REMINDER for the premiere. [Toronto ON] Sultans of String are releasing this song to coincide with the April 10 anniversaryContinue reading “3x JUNO Nominees and Billboard Charting SULTANS OF STRING Commemorate the Anniversary of the 1988 OJHRI CAMP Disaster With New Video From Their REFUGE Project”

Author Dawn James Cheated Death and Now Shares Profound Revelations in her New Book, Unveiled: Autobiography of an Awakened One

Toronto, Ontario, Canada —March 18, 2021— Author Dawn James wrote a spellbinding new autobiography, Unveiled: Autobiography of an Awakened One, set for release on March 20, 2021.  James, who conquered vision and hearing loss, being paralyzed and mute, shares her audacious story of how she cheated death and awoke to life-altering revelations.  This memoir highlights James’s spiritualContinue reading “Author Dawn James Cheated Death and Now Shares Profound Revelations in her New Book, Unveiled: Autobiography of an Awakened One”

Chris Sunfield’s Second Single “Predator” is an Abrupt About-Face Following His Sunshine Pop Debut!

“PREDATOR” by Chris Sunfield OUT NOW! 12 February 2020 (TORONTO) – Chris Sunfield’s second single “Predator” is an abrupt about-face following his sunshine pop debut “The Little Things”. Predator is a provocative poison pen letter to romantic predators, exposing their psychopathic and Machiavellian ways. The lyrics, with their reptilian metaphors, serve to validate anyone who’sContinue reading “Chris Sunfield’s Second Single “Predator” is an Abrupt About-Face Following His Sunshine Pop Debut!”

Award-winning Celebrity Skincare Entrepreneur Jean Pierre Releases Powerful New Memoir on the Uphill Climb to Personal & Professional Success

TORONTO – Feb. 3, 2021  — On February 27th, Jamaican-Canadian Icon and Skin Care Guru Jean Pierre is set to release a bold new memoir entitled Uphill Climb. The book details Pierre’s inspirational journey as a healthcare practitioner, entrepreneur, international public speaker and creator of the popular Obsidian Skincare line. Uphill Climb delves into Pierre’s deeply personal health struggles as aContinue reading “Award-winning Celebrity Skincare Entrepreneur Jean Pierre Releases Powerful New Memoir on the Uphill Climb to Personal & Professional Success”

“The Matrix” a Poem by Christine Bode

The Matrix by Christine Bode Everett,in the movie Paterson says, after pulling a fake gun on everyone in the bar, “Without love, what reason is there for anything?”I don’t know, Everett… nothing, not a fucking thing that matters anyway.Without love, every day is the same damn pandemic day.Wake up, walk the dog, make coffee, drink coffee, read a book,do housework, workContinue reading ““The Matrix” a Poem by Christine Bode”

Sultans of String Interactive Zoom Concert #5 – Lockdown Smackdown on January 23, 2021

Happy New Year friends, I don’t know about you, but this new lockdown is making us feel a little too isolated…Therefore announcing our Sultans of String Livestream January 23, 8:00 pm EST Livestream -Lockdown Smackdown Edition! Let’s super-spread some good live-streaming vibes and keep connected. Isolating doesn’t have to be lonely! And we can celebrate the inaugurationContinue reading “Sultans of String Interactive Zoom Concert #5 – Lockdown Smackdown on January 23, 2021”

New Book, And Still Champion, Introduces the World to a Group of Undisputed Champions

Bold Men Who Have Found Victory in Telling Their Most Personal Stories Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. ~ Muhammad Ali Atlanta, Ga. – Dec. 30, 2020  — New anthology And Still Champion: The Reality of What 7 Men Endured features the most revealing, provocative and personal stories of seven Black menContinue reading “New Book, And Still Champion, Introduces the World to a Group of Undisputed Champions”

New Book Captures the Courageous Untold Stories of 13 Women Who Have Triumphed Over Adversity

Atlanta, Ga. – Dec. 18, 2020 — Thirteen women reveal the hidden stories behind their smiles in a new anthology called, Beyond the Smile, released on Thanksgiving Day 2020 with a virtual launch event that took place on Cyber Monday, November 30th. Beyond the Smile contains 13 powerful stories of African American women who have beaten the odds and haveContinue reading “New Book Captures the Courageous Untold Stories of 13 Women Who Have Triumphed Over Adversity”

Anti-Labyrinths by Boris Glikman and Michael Cheval

Discover the Philosophical, Fantastical Fiction of Australian Writer Boris Glikman, and a Sneak Peek of His Upcoming Coffee Table Book, Anti-Labyrinths, with Art by Michael Cheval Over the years, I have published many of Australian author, Boris Glikman‘s short stories on my blog, because I’m a fan of his work. He is currently working onContinue reading “Anti-Labyrinths by Boris Glikman and Michael Cheval”

Mary’s Meals Canada celebrates Annie Lennox and “Universal Child” Gift

Mary’s Meals Canada Celebrates ANNIE LENNOX and“Universal Child” Gift TORONTO, Canada. Mary’s Meals Canada, the school feeding charity, celebrates Annie Lennox and the gift of her hit single, “Universal Child.” Recognized as one of the most successful, iconic, and revered pop artists, Ms. Lennox has sold over 86 million albums worldwide. “With deep gratitude, we areContinue reading “Mary’s Meals Canada celebrates Annie Lennox and “Universal Child” Gift”

Raise Your Vibration and Transform Your Life with Dawn James

Title: Raise Your Vibration, Transform Your Life: A Practical Guide for Attaining Better Health, Vitality and Inner PeaceAuthor: Dawn JamesPublisher: Lotus Moon PressReleased: 2010Pages: 158ISBN: 978-0-9865378-1-3Stars: 4 Title: How to Raise The Vibration Around You: Volume 1 – Working with the 4 Elements to Create Healthy and Harmonious Living SpacesAuthor: Dawn JamesPublisher: Lotus Moon PressReleased: 2014Pages: 171ISBN: 978-0-9865378-0-6Stars: 4Continue reading “Raise Your Vibration and Transform Your Life with Dawn James”

3x JUNO Nominees and Billboard Charting SULTANS OF STRING take their Global Grooves & Goodwill to hearts and homes with their Christmas Caravan & UNHCR Fundraising Zoom Concert!

SAT. DEC. 19, 2020 – 8:00pm EST (5:00 PST / 7:00pm CST) SPECIAL GUESTS: Rebecca Campbell, Tamar Ilana, Donné Roberts, Kristine St-Pierre & more TBA! ZOOM TICKETS: http://christmascaravan2020.eventbrite.caFACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/202730184800176 As winter crests and the mercury falls, everyone from your taxi driver to the music supervisor at the mall starts running timeless hits like “Jingle Bells” andContinue reading “3x JUNO Nominees and Billboard Charting SULTANS OF STRING take their Global Grooves & Goodwill to hearts and homes with their Christmas Caravan & UNHCR Fundraising Zoom Concert!”

Paul Dano & Zoe Kazan Shine In Romantic Comedy Fantasy Ruby Sparks

DVD REVIEW
Title: Ruby Sparks
Studio/Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Principle Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Antonio Banderas
Length: 104 minutes
Released: October 30, 2012
Stars: 3.5

Ruby Sparks is “the true and impossible story of my very great love.”  So says novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), who wrote a bestselling novel which had everyone declaring him a genius when he was in his late teens, but has never been able to duplicate his success.  Calvin lives alone in a big, colourless, lofty man cave spending his days agonizing over not being able to write, working out with his brother Harry (Chris Messina of The Newsroom,  Julie & Julia), walking his unruly dog Scotty, and visiting his shrink.  The neurotic and somewhat dweeb-like Calvin is suffering from long term writer’s block, so his therapist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliott Gould) suggests that he write about someone who could love him completely.

Calvin starts dreaming about a pretty and quirky redhead named Ruby (Zoe Kazan) that he meets in a park.  She’s everything that he’s ever imagined he wants in a girlfriend.  He starts writing about her out of a need to spend time with her and quickly becomes concerned that he’s falling in love with a figment of his imagination.

Suddenly women’s clothes and personal effects start to mysteriously appear in Calvin’s apartment, much to the consternation of his brother Harry and his wife Susan (Toni Trucks).  Before Calvin can process what’s happening, Ruby appears in the flesh, believing that they’ve been in a relationship for a couple of months and that they’re in the honeymoon stage.  He thinks he’s going crazy.

Calvin brings Ruby out into the real world to prove that he’s not dreaming and finds out that other people can see her too.  Delirious with joy, he leaps into his role as Ruby’s boyfriend with the glee of a high school boy experiencing his first love.  Calvin and Harry discover that Calvin can write anything he wants to about Ruby (for instance, he makes her speak French) and it will become manifested, literally.  However, when Ruby starts to express her need for space in their relationship, a disturbed Calvin decides to write her exactly how he wants her to be.  This backfires on him as he realizes that he has to be very careful and specific about his choice of words.  If he doesn’t write about her, she’s not within his control but if he does write about her, she’s not herself.  Calvin has no idea how to be in a relationship with a woman which he discovers first hand as he makes mistake after mistake with Ruby.

Paul Dano (Looper, There Will Be Blood) is a brilliant young actor and the reason I wanted to watch Ruby Sparks, and he doesn’t disappoint.  He’s an expert at using his face to express a character’s emotions and was completely believable as the confused Calvin.  I was, however, disappointed that Steve Coogan (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People) wasn’t given more to do as pretentious author Langdon Tharp and basically phoned in a stereotypical Coogan performance.  Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas (sporting a grey beard that makes him look older than usual & stealing every scene he was in) appear briefly as Calvin’s hippy-dippy, new age mother Gertrude and her jovial furniture-building partner, Mort, in a fun scene in a beautiful home in Big Sur, highlighted with ravishing gardens and a gorgeous swimming pool.  True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll has one scene as Calvin’s ex-girlfriend Lila and she also left me wishing she had more. However, the movie belongs to Zoe Kazan (It’s Complicated, Revolutionary Road), granddaughter of director/actor Elia Kazan, who not only wrote the screenplay for Ruby Sparks but also lives with Paul Dano.  Zoe is captivating and delightful as Ruby and you can’t take your eyes off her.

A couple being directed by a couple (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris of Little Miss Sunshine) makes for an interesting experiment and the result is a sweet, whimsical but relatable tale that asks the questions “How do I not seek to control the person I’m with?” and “How do you accept a person for who they are, completely?”  This story defines what it’s like to be in a relationship and to be the partner that doesn’t hold all the cards.

There was no reason that this movie needed to be rated R.  Its language is quite tame and there was only one scene in which characters were smoking a joint.  You see worse behaviour than that on Family Guy.  The extras on the DVD included 3 vignettes about various aspects of the film and were worth watching.  Although the directors didn’t embarrass themselves, they didn’t take any risks either and the only thing that stood out for me aside from Dano & Kazan’s performances was the enchanting French music in the soundtrack.

“Falling in love is an act of magic.  And so is writing.”  It’s too bad that the screenplay for this bittersweet love story with the moral “be careful what you wish for” is not magical, but merely a slightly above average romantic comedy fantasy that will make you smile and agree with how complex relationships are without thinking about it again after the credits roll.

Sacred Journey of the Heart: A Documentary Film on the Science and Spirit of Our Connection

PRESS RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT: Teri James
Cell 602-430-0374/office 602-258-5088
Email: terijamespublicrelations@msn.com

NEW DOCUMENTARY PROVES HEALING AND CONNECTEDNESS BEGINS WITH HEART

Scientists, Spiritual Leaders Confirm We Are All Connected Through Our Hearts

September 14, 2012 – Phoenix, AZLocal Valley writer, producer, filmmaker and visionary, Ronna Prince devoted three years of her life to make “Sacred Journey of the Heart,” a ground-breaking film documenting the science, spirit and healing capabilities of our heart, proving that we are all connected to each other and the earth around us. Featuring respected visionaries and spiritual leaders such as New York Times best selling author Gregg Braden (Deep Truth), Dr. Joe Dispenza (What the Bleep Do We Know?), tribal elders and more, Sacred Journey of the Heart premieres at Harkins Camelview Theater on Friday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. Following the premiere, Prince, along with Braden, Havasupai tribal member, Uqalla, and other key speakers featured in the documentary, will host an in-depth, interactive Q&A discussion.

Prince, the film’s writer and producer, was inspired to make the documentary through her need for healing and the hopes of healing others through the knowledge she learned. From studies conducted by scientists in conjunction with the esteemed Institute of HeartMath®, as well as tribal elders and great spiritual leaders of our time, she learned it has been proven that we are connected to the energy of the earth both in mind and body coherence; we are all one pulsating life force connected to by our energy and our emotions. By getting our minds and hearts in alignment with positive, healing thoughts, we affect others around us to be in a likened state.

“Through researching the tenants of this film and exploring the head/heart and emotional connection, I discovered that we are all connected both physically and mentally to each other and, quite literally, to the earth around us,” said Ronna Prince, writer and producer of Sacred Journey of the Heart. “By understanding the “oneness” of us all and understanding that we are not disparate beings, perhaps the world could become a more peaceful, more healing place.”

This enlightening documentary also provides a wealth of tools, techniques and information on how to heal, forgive and trust and, ultimately, inspire others to make their own sacred journey into their own hearts to become more connected and attune to the beautiful world that envelopes us all.

Tickets to see Sacred Journey of the Heart are just $9.50 at the Harkins box office. Additional screenings will be held from October 20 through October 26.

About Ronna Prince

Ronna Prince is a writer, filmmaker, producer and founder of Global Wholeness Corp, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to educate people about our interconnection and to inspire people to come together to create innovative solutions to the challenges we face as families and communities. Global Wholeness supports projects that bring healing and wholeness to communities through charitable giving. She currently has two additional movies in pre-production.

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Film Synopsis

Sacred Journey of the Heart is a ground-breaking film documenting the science and spirit of our connection. It reveals how modern science is proving what ancient peoples have known all along: we are all connected – and that connection is the human heart. The heart is the single organ that not only creates a unified field among all people but also creates a harmonic field with the earth itself. Learn tools and techniques from leading spiritual teachers, scientific experts and indigenous elders that will assist you on your personal heart-centered journey. Discover how living in a specific state called “heart coherence” will create a better future for the planet.

Join filmmaker Ronna Prince on this sacred journey to the heart of transformation. Discover how lasting transformation begins with the personal journey to your own heart – the most powerful organ of your body. See how you can consciously create a harmonic resonance with all those around you as well as with earth itself!

Leading scientists and researchers present their knowledge which is converging with ancient wisdom traditions dating back millennia. NYT bestselling author Gregg Braden confirms that “the heart is where is the action is” – and he presents surprising data about how the human heart is connected to measurable events on earth. Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, explains his process of how to create change in your life, and Colin Tipping, of Radical Forgiveness, describes a simple step-by step process to transmute past hurts into gifts, clearing the way for lasting transformation. In addition, many indigenous elders and spiritual teachers share their profound insights and sacred practices.

These pearls of wisdom show us the transformative power of the heart to create a pathway of healing, forgiveness, connection and love.

Join us on this amazing journey to reclaim your heart, heal your past and create a new future!

Find Sacred Journey of the Heart on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

You can purchase the DVD of Sacred Journey of the Heart on November 12, 2012 here: http://www.sacredjourneyoftheheart.com/

Masterpiece Classic’s Great Expectations (2011) by Charles Dickens

DVD REVIEW
Title: Great Expectations
Studio/Distributor: PBS
Directors: Brian Kirk
Principle Cast: Douglas Booth, Gillian Anderson, Ray Winstone, David Suchet, Vanessa Kirby
Length: Approx. 3 hours
Released: 2012
Stars: 3.5

The classic coming-of-age novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens has been interpreted on film at least a dozen times for both television and the cinema including director Stuart Walker’s adaptation in 1934, David Lean’s in 1946 and Alfonso Cuarón’s in 1998.  In the 2011 BBC Masterpiece Classic three part mini-series, the screenplay is written by Sarah Phelps and director Brian Kirk leads a top notch cast of thespians to once again tell the tale of an orphan boy named Pip who is bequeathed great expectations of wealth by a mysterious benefactor who changes his life forever.

I’ve never read the book so I can’t give an all-encompassing review, but I saw the 1998 version of Great Expectations starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke and wasn’t impressed.

However, this Gothic version of Dickens’ story is an above-average rendition because of the stellar performances by Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Bleak House) as Miss Havisham, Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, London Boulevard) as Abel Magwitch, David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) as Jaggers and Jack Roth (son of Tim) as Dolge Orlick.  I wish I could honestly say that young Douglas Booth’s (LOL, The Pillars of the Earth) performance as lead character Pip moved me, but I was totally distracted by his looks.  He’s a very pretty, GQ-type, effeminate man…too pretty for the part, too pretty to believe that he’d fall for Vanessa Kirby’s Estella and too pretty to fit in with the rest of the cast.  This is one of those instances where a man’s good looks actually don’t work for him.  That being said, he gave a decent performance and I’d be interested to see him in another role.

A dramatic mystery with a romantic subplot, authentic sets, striking costumes and superb cinematography, Great Expectations begins eerily with a thick fog hanging over a marsh as a man slowly rises out of the water while a little boy tries to clear weeds and brush away from a gravestone in the English countryside.  We discover that the man is an escaped prisoner who threatens the boy within an inch of his life if he reveals his whereabouts and orders Philip “Pip” Pirrie to go back to his sister’s home at the forge where his brother-in-law Joe Gargery (Shaun Dooley) has a blacksmith shop, to retrieve a file, so that he can get out of his leg irons.  Pip’s sister “Mrs. Joe” (Claire Rushbrook) beats Pip and considers him a burden and a nuisance while her brother Pumblechook (Mark Addy), driven by greed, would gladly sell him to the highest bidder, but Joe loves him and wants to train him to become a blacksmith.  Not only does Pip help Abel Magwitch escape, but he brings him a piece of mutton pie.  Magwitch is soon apprehended by local policemen but he doesn’t reveal Pip’s actions and never forgets his kindness.  We haven’t seen the last of him and neither has Pip.

Not long after, Pip is sent to the ghoulish Satis House for weekly visits with the ghostly Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter Estella.  Satis House is a creepy, dusty old mansion that houses the mad mistress who seems to slowly be fading away, both mentally and figuratively.  A very thin Gillian Anderson gives one of the best performances of her career.  You can’t take your eyes off her whenever she’s on screen and Miss Havisham’s inevitable self-immolation will linger in your memory after the credits have rolled.

Pip quickly falls in love with Estella (which was hard for me to believe based on her character), and realizes that he must become more than a blacksmith’s apprentice if he ever hopes to win her heart.  However, Miss Havisham, “a bride-to-be who was jilted at the altar years before and still wears her wedding dress amidst the fossilized ruins of her wedding feast, goes to great lengths to ensure that Estella will never risk heartbreak, and raises her as a tool for vengeance.”  She decides to pay Joe Gargery for Pip’s apprenticeship as a blacksmith and tells Pip that he is no longer welcome at Satis House.

Seven years later, Pip is informed by London solicitor Jaggers that he has inherited a fortune but he must abandon his life at the forge and become a gentleman in London society.  Episode 1 ends with Pip making a visit to Miss Havisham to let her know that he’s going to do her proud and become the sort of man that Estella (who was sent to a finishing school in Paris and later to London) would want.  In the closing scene, we see Pip in a horse-drawn carriage on his way to the big city.

In episode 2, we find Pip under the guardianship of Jaggers as he learns the ways of a gentleman from his affable roommate, Herbert Pocket, who interestingly is played by Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones, The Iron Lady), the great-great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens.  He is reunited with Estella for whom he declares his love, but she isn’t of the same mind.  Pip may have turned into a “gentleman” but in his desire to leave his past behind him, he has also become a bit of a jerk.  But by episode 3, we start to feel compassion for Pip as the ghosts from his past come back to haunt him and he finds the strength to exorcise them and become the man he was meant to be.

I watched this version of Great Expectations twice and enjoyed its twists and turns even more during the second viewing.  It’s a solid choice for undiscerning fans of Dickens, Victorian England, and historical period dramas and while it may not be the crown jewel in Masterpiece Classic’s treasure chest, its sparkle still merits appreciation.