Children often use stories as an escapade from life and into fictitious worlds where they feel comfortable letting their imagination roam free. Pip, the orphan boy from Charles Dickens‘ classic “Great Expectations”, traverses one such world. Pip’s story transfixes young Matilda Naimo (Xzannjah), one of the many young children in the war-torn province of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

Written and adapted to the big screen by Andrew Adamson and based on the novel “Mister Pip” by Lloyd Jones, Mr. Pip is a vivid documentation of the rural living conditions that the people of Bougainville inhabit. Set and filmed in the Solomon Islands, Adamson captures the beauty of nature through the scenic landscapes around town.

Hugh Laurie plays Tom Watts, the only white man left on the island. With no facilities for education, he uses “Great Expectations”, a book he has with him, to impart knowledge of wisdom to the children chapter by chapter. At his charge are dozens of innocent and genuinely curious kids, hoping to learn something new each day – a reminder that children in developed countries are fortunate to have proper learning environments.

Eager to learn, Matilda seeks solace in the comfort of Pip, telling her mother Dolores (Healesville Joel) what she has learnt after meeting him. Unsurprisingly, Dolores is unhappy that Matilda does not learn anything practical – and so starts a string of heated exchanges between mother and daughter on what is pragmatic for the state they are in.

Further worsening their predicament, The Redskins is sent to destroy the local rebels, an army that holds no bars in carrying out their duties, albeit in unlawful ways. At the discovery of a certain “Pip” that the children seem to advocate, the lead officer leaves a wreck in the town that sees homes damaged, at the expense of the people’s lives.

A war film unlike any other, Mr. Pip draws your attention to the ramshackle quality of living in Bougainville, but also the unabashed happiness that the people emit. It’s a stark contrast to modern-day living in the city that we are accustomed to, and opens our eyes to another part of the world. Made by New Zealand filmmakers in 2012, Mr. Pip is a fine example that shows The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogies are not the only successful film products from the country.

Mr. Pip is now showing in theatres.

Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Genre: Drama, War
Running time: 116 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5

Mr. Pip was screened as part of Singapore Film Society (SFS) Talkies at Shaw Lido on 14 March 2015 with Tim Coddington, its Executive Producer, in attendance.