30/11/2012 11:35 GMT | Updated 30/01/2013 05:12 GMT

'Great Expectations Is About Lust, Power And Abuse - Very Modern,' Director Mike Newell Tells HuffPostUK

'Great Expectations' director Mike Newell is hopeful that audiences will be struck afresh by the erotic love between Pip and Estella when his new version hits UK cinemas this weekend.

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Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger star in Mike Newell's very modern conception of 'Great Expectations'

"It's a very contemporary story," he tells HuffPost UK. "It wasn't just abstract love, the boy lusted after the girl, and both of them are abused children. Both Pip and Estella are brutalised children working out their damage - it's a very modern notion, with the past influencing the present, and psychological damage getting handed down."

For Newell, previously at the helm of such hits as 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', it was a chance to "get back into my country's kind of stories - I wanted to come home. Harry Potter may be set in an English boarding school, but making the film by no means feels like that. It was time".

It was also the opportunity for the director to reunite with the man he brought to Hogwarts - Ralph Fiennes, who played villainous Voldemort with Newell at the helm - something that obviously delighted him...

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Ralph Fiennes plays Magwitch

"He's a brute of an actor. He won't give things up. At one point when he was in the moment as Magwitch, he put his hand up to motion for a re-take, and even that was so good, we left it in the movie."

And as for the actress playing the uniquely tragic role of Miss Havisham, Newell credits Helena Bonham Carter both for her performance and empathy for the deserted bride, who stopped the clocks when her groom failed to appear, and instead wilted away bitterly in her wedding dress.

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Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham - deserted and descended into lifelong bitterness

"That important question - why DID Miss Havisham stop the clocks? Helena had thought it all through. Miss Havisham had her reasons, apparently. She thought if she stopped time, the groom would return, having changed his mind (about abandoning her at the altar). And if she stopped time, it was simply as though it hadn't happened... and she could continue living in this parallel reality."

Great Expectations is in UK cinemas from today. Watch the trailer below...