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Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and written by Mitch Glazer, Great Expectations is a movie about the love of a man for an unreachable woman, and how fate ultimately brings them together. Serendipity directed by Peter Chelsom, is a more predictable romantic comedy that relies on destiny to bring a couple together, after the many coincidences that linked them to one another. Serendipity and Great Expectations both revolve around life’s great coincidences due to fate, and how their characters indulge in the direction fate leads them.
Loosely based on the Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations is a tale of a young man's unforgettable passage into manhood, and the three individuals who undeniably changed his life forever. Through the surprising interactions of these vivid characters, Great Expectations takes a unique and contemporary look at life's great coincidences. In a small Florida town on the Gulf Coast, eight-year-old Finn Bell lives with his sister Maggie and his "Uncle" Joe. They barely scrape by, but aspiring
artist Finn enjoys his simple life, drawing pictures in the colorful Gulf waters. Finn's journey to adulthood begins suddenly with the shocking appearance of a dangerous convict who forces the boy to aid in his escape from prison. With this experience still freshly etched in his mind, Finn is summoned to the decaying mansion of Ms. Nora Dinsmoor, the richest woman in the gulf, who had lost her mind thirty years earlier when her fiancé left her standing at the altar. There, Finn meets Dinsmoor's niece Estella, who, even at age 11, displays an upper class iciness toward the young, impoverished boy who instantly and hopelessly falls in love with her. Finn's meetings with Estella and her crazed, wealthy aunt fuel new dreams: to paint for the rich, to enjoy their freedom, and to love Estella. Once Ms. Dinsmoor realizes Finn is there for his love for Estella, she warns him that Estella will break his heart. The crazed woman's warnings become Finn's harshest reality when Estella abruptly leaves without saying goodbye. A hopeless Finn stops painting, stops dreaming ... until a mysterious benefactor sends the now grown young man to New York. Pursuing his dreams in the glamorous world of the New York art scene, the once-poor artist seems to finally have it all; wealth, status, fame and a reunion with the newly engaged Estella.
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According to Merriam Webster Online, serendipity is the phenomenon of making fortunate discoveries by accident. In the movie Serendipity, just this happens as the love story unfolds when the paths of two strangers collide during a busting day in New York, and they start to feel a mutual all-consuming attraction for each other. They meet while shopping for gloves for their respective lovers. Despite that each is involved in another relationship, Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas buy their time to stay connected by wandering through Manhattan and talking over hot chocolate at a famous restaurant perfectly named, Serendipity. The magic was right and a night of Christmas shopping turned into romance, even though they never exchanged names. When the night reaches its inevitable end, the two are forced to determine the next step. Jon wanted to explore things further, but Sara wasn't sure if their love was meant to be. Jon suggests exchanging phone numbers, but Sara still wasn’t sure as she has a different idea in mind that will allow fate to take control of the future. They decided to test fate by splitting up and seeing if destiny brings them back together. Sara convinced him that if they were meant to be together, the universe will reveal its telltale signs, and with that she promised that the next day she would write her first name in a book with a phone number and she would place it an a second hand book store. If the book ever got into his hands, he would be able to get a hold of her ... Many years later, having lost each other that night, both are engaged to be married. Still, neither can shake the need to give fate one last chance to reunite them. Jon enlists the help of his best man to track down the girl he can't forget, starting at the store where they met. Sara asks her new age musician fiancé for a break before the wedding and, with her best friend in tow, flies from California to New York hoping destiny will bring her soul-mate back. Near-misses and classic Shakespearean confusion bring the two close to meeting a number of times ultimately having fate be the final word on whether it was meant to be.
While Fate is the central theme in both of these movies, their differences would not classify them as being similar at all; predictable versus unpredictable, a light romantic comedy versus a deep drama, and vivid characters versus somewhat vague characters. Serendipity is the more light hearted romantic comedy that is somewhat predictable with characters that are not very developed, and Great Expectations is the in depth drama that centers around the well developed characters in an unpredictable way. During the course of the movies, both sets of characters end up falling in love with other people, only relying on fate to bring them back to one another in the end. In Great Expectations, the Fate is not as obvious as it is in Serendipity. In Serendipity, Sara comes right out and says she relies on fate and life’s coincidences to lead her way. Both main male characters set out to accomplish things in their own respective lives before fate takes its hand. The exceptional cinematography by Cuaron in Great Expectations is a wonderful benefit to the movie adding yet another level of thinking for the audience. Serendipity does not incorporate other features to enhance the movie, relying on solely on the plot and actors.
In Great Expectations and Serendipity, the central theme is letting fate take its course through the lives of the characters. Life is full of the many coincidences that relate a person to another, it is these coincidences that both of the movies thrive from. In both of these movies, the audience is swayed away from thinking that each will find their respective soul-mate, but of course, fate does bring each set of soul-mates together in the end of the movies. While these movies did not have very many similarities throughout their plots, their general theme was very similar.