Mysterious inheritance

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German title Mysterious inheritance
Original title Great Expectations
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 1946
length 118 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director David Lean
script David Lean,
Ronald Neame ,
Anthony Havelock-Allan
production Ronald Neame
music Walter Goehr
camera Guy Green
cut Jack Harris

Mysterious Inheritance (Original title: Great Expectations ) is a British drama film directed by David Lean from 1946 based on the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens .


The orphan boy Phillip Pirrip, who is called "Pip", lives with his sister and her husband Joe Gargery. One day he meets Abel Magwitch, a prison escape in a cemetery. He intimidates him and causes him to bring him food and a file. When Magwitch attacks another escape instead of fleeing, the police arrest him again. Thereupon the old and rich maid Miss Havisham hires Pip to look after her house and a beautiful girl named Estella. Estella keeps teasing him about his bad manners, but Pip falls in love with her. Pip meets Herbert Pocket, a relative of Miss Havisham his age, and her lawyer, Mr. Jaggers. When Pip turns 14, he can no longer come into the house because he is to be trained as a blacksmith.

Five years later, Mr. Jaggers visits Pip. He informs him that a mysterious patron wants the young man to be raised to be a gentleman. Pip thinks Miss Havisham is behind it and says yes. Herbert Pocket is said to be Pip's teacher of behavior. Herbert tells Pip that Miss Havisham is so bitter that she wants revenge on men. Estella is the tool of her vengeance. Pip refuses to believe that.

When Pip turned 21, he was visited by Joe Gargery, who was irritated by Pip's snobbish behavior. Joe tells Pip that Miss Havisham wants to see him. Pip sees Estella again, who is about to warn him about herself. The two spend a lot of time together, but to Pip's displeasure, she flirts with many other men, including Bentley Drummle, a well-off but unpopular contemporary. Pip meets Magwitch, who tells him that he is his patron. Mr. Jaggers confirms this. Magwitch was then deported to Australia and made his fortune there. When Mr. Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers' assistant, informs them that Magwitch's old enemy, the other fugitive, is in London, Pip decides to take the old man to the continent on a mail ship. Pip wants to say goodbye to Estella and Miss Havisham. Estella informs him that she will marry Drummle. Pip confirms that this is Miss Havisham's revenge, because Estella will torment Drummle. As Pip leaves, glowing wood chips from the fireplace set the old woman's dress on fire. Pip hears their screams and returns, but is late.

As Pip, Herbert and Magwitch row to the mail ship, the police, alerted by Magwitch's enemy, are waiting for them. Magwitch seizes the man and kills him. The old man is wounded in the fight. Before that, Magwitch spoke to Pip about his lost daughter. Now Pip is suspicious, and Mr. Jaggers confirms his suspicions: The daughter is Estella. Pip visits the dying Magwitch and tells him about Estella and that he is in love with her. The old man dies happy. Unfortunately, Pip cannot obtain an inheritance, as Magwitch, as a convict, can only bequeath his property to one descendant. So from now on Pip has to go through life again as a poor man.

Sick and hopeless, Pip returns to Joe Gargery. He gets well and visits Miss Havisham's destroyed house. There he meets Estella. Drummle was enlightened about Estella's father Magwitch and broke off all relations with Estella because he despises her low parentage. Estella returned to the house she had inherited from Miss Havisham. She now wants to live in solitude like her protector. Pip pulls down the curtains, and for the first time in years, sunlight comes into the room. Pip pulls Estella to him and tells her that he never loved anyone like her. At first she hesitates, but then she takes Pip's arm and leaves the house with him.


Director David Lean, still unknown at the time, was taken to a stage version of the Dickens novel by his wife Kay Walsh in 1939. Lean saw the young Alec Guinness in the role of Herbert Pocket and promptly hired him for his film. Martita Hunt was also hired for the film to play Miss Havisham like on stage. The film made Lean and Guinness their international breakthrough.

In 2003, Mysterious Legacy was published as a limited collector's edition in a cardboard slipcase and with a 16-page booklet on DVD.


The lexicon of international films described the film as an “atmospheric adaptation of the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, precisely cast down to the smallest role ”. Although “the enchanting poetry of the first part” does not extend to the end, “the literarily demanding film” is one of the “best novel adaptations ever”. The reference work 6000 Films (1963) also noted: "The second part (city) is noticeably falling off."

Cinema was full of praise and spoke of a "highlight of English cinema". David Lean's screen adaptation is "[the] first really successful film adaptation of a Charles Dickens novel". She is "superb in every way". The “excellent camera”, “splendid equipment” and “famous actors” who made “the intricate saga a classic” are particularly outstanding. The conclusion was: "Wonderfully dense film adaptation."


At the Oscar ceremony in 1948 was Geheimisvolle inheritance in the categories of Best Cinematography (black and white) (Guy Green) and Best Art Direction (Black-White) ( John Bryan , Wilfred Shingleton ) with the Oscar awarded. Lean's film was the first British film to win an Oscar. There were further nominations in the categories of Best Film , Best Director (David Lean) and Best Adapted Screenplay (David Lean, Ronald Neame, Anthony Havelock-Allan).

The British Film Institute voted the literary adaptation in 1999 at number 5 of the 100 best British films of the 20th century . The British film magazine Total Film ranked Secret Legacy 2004 among the 15 best British films of all time.


The German dubbed version was created in 1971 on behalf of ZDF for the German premiere on television on July 25, 1971. As early as 1960, a DEFA dubbing directed by Lisa Honigmann was created for the GDR movie theater, but is no longer available today.

role actor Voice actor ZDF Voice actor DDR
pip John Mills Christian Brückner Hans-Peter Minetti
Estella as an adult Valerie Hobson Dagmar Altrichter Irma Münch
Estella as a child Jean Simmons Barbara Peters Gloria Jadwiga
Pip as a child Tony Wagner NN Ulrich Brehm
Joe Gargery Bernard Miles Edgar Ott Jochen Thomas
Mr. Jaggers Francis L. Sullivan Alexander Welbat Peter Kiwitt
Miss Havisham Martita Hunt Tilly Lauenstein Maria Rouvel
Abel Magwitch Finlay Currie Arnold Marquis Maximilian Larsen
Herbert Pocket Alec Guinness Claus Jurichs Wolfgang Thal
Biddy Eileen Erskine Marianne Lutz Use Bastubbe
Wemmick Ivor Barnard NN Hannes W. Braun
Mrs. Gargery Freda Jackson NN Inge Keller


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b See
  2. Mysterious Inheritance. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  3. 6000 films. Critical notes from the cinema years 1945 to 1958 . Handbook V of the Catholic film criticism, 3rd edition, Verlag Haus Altenberg, Düsseldorf 1963, p. 149.
  4. Cf. ( Memento of the original from October 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Mysterious Inheritance. In: German synchronous index , accessed on June 25, 2017 .
  6. See ( Memento of the original from April 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /