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Adapted by Andrew Adamson from the best-selling novel by Lloyd Jones, Mr Pip is the story of how Mr Watts, a teacher on the war-torn island of Bougainville, helps a young girl survive the violence of her daily life through the power of imagination. Mr Watts reads from his favourite book, “Great Expectations”, and 14-year-old Matilda is transported into the Victorian world, finding inspiration, friendship and hope when her real life is filled with harsh uncertainty and danger.
Mr Pip was filmed in the village of Pidia on Bougainville Island, a territory of Papua New Guinea, and in Auckland and Oamaru in New Zealand, between June and September 2011.
In Bougainville, the beautiful white sand beaches, lush tropical rainforest, the exotic look of the village buildings and the blue seas and skies made an idyllic backdrop for the lyrical scenes of village life and the developing friendship of Matilda and Mr Watts. The beauty of this environment contrasts sharply with the jolting reality of the harsh wartime parts of the story that take place in the village. The Lloyd Jones novel, Mister Pip, upon which the film is based, was set in Bougainville during the 1990s when the country was torn apart by a war over copper mining and land rights, and most of the story it tells is very close to the experiences of the people there.