Posted by: Shirley | April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Jane (Eyre) the movie

First off, had a lot of fun eating Malaysian with Kirk and Karen, and enjoyed meeting Jill, Vanessa, and Lucia!  Thanks for coming out, everybody.

I enjoyed this adaptation, but it ain’t the best I’ve seen.  I found it rushed through and skipped some parts, and dragged itself slowly through others.  You didn’t get the full sense of how much Jane suffered at Lowell school, or the depth of her friendship with Helen.  But we did see slow scenes of Jane playing badminton, and Rochester digging up a dead bush.  The film also removed the familial link between Jane and St. John Rivers and his sisters, and beginning the movie in media res and flashing back was jarring at times and seemed confusing for those unfamiliar with the story.

I also found Blanche Ingram winning in this version, and that is not supposed to be!  She seemed spunky and a little witty, as opposed to plain, quiet Jane.  I wished the movie had included the scene where Rochester plays the great trick on all his guests, to show what a cold gold-digger Blanche is; without it, I felt she wasn’t such a bad choice for Rochester.

Some of us agreed that while Judi Dench played Mrs. Fairfax perfectly, the character was so mild that it seemed a waste of Judi Dench.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh is more where she’s at.

The actors got Jane, Rochester, and St. John down pat.  While the colors and scenery in the film were dark, muted, and bleak, it fit the story’s gothic themes and mimicked the moors Charlotte Bronte must have wandered.  I did like that this movie focused on Jane’s limited experiences in life, that she has never seen a city or spoken to a man.  And while she manages to find love, that woman in the attic is symbolic of the confinement women of the time felt.

The movie, like the book, is very un-Austen, unless you think of the gothic stories made fun of in Northanger Abbey.  It was gothic, tragically romantic, and even melodramatic.

I love the story, but my favorite version remains the 2006 adapation by BBC.  Now, this version got the reunion scene between Jane and Rochester right.  The movie last night cut straight to the chase, but the BBC version is truer to the book and captures the tenderness of the moment.  Rochester is at his most vulnerable and needs help to even pour a drink, and Jane almost teases him by playing along at first.

And, if you’re a Jane Eyre fan but haven’t read the story of that other woman in the attic, check out Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys.  It challenges the notion of Jane Eyre being a feminist story, and puts Rochester in a whole other light.

Share your thoughts!

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Responses

  1. I agree with you Shirley that this isn’t the best Jane Eyre. The 2006 version is significantly better as well as the one from the 90’s with Ciaran Hinds. I think the issue with this film time, at just two hours there’s no way to touch upon all the great parts of the novel. I did think the actors were wonderful and I enjoyed the dark, sadness of the film. I also think that they assume that you have read the novel so I could see how someone who isn’t familiar with the story could feel a bit lost. Overall, I enjoyed it though – Jane Eyre is one of my favs!

  2. I’m waiting for someone to do a good Wuthering Heights! I’ve seen the Laurence Olivier and the Juliette Binoche versions, and didn’t feel either was satisfactory.


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