The New Jane Eyre
I am a Jane Eyre Aficionado. I have loved the novel since I was a young girl. The story has so much merit to show us how character can be developed in spite of growing up in difficult circumstances. Jane Eyre does not compromise her standards and do the thing that feels good rather than that which is right. We need heroines today who stick to their values and moral beliefs.
There has been 18 versions of Jane Eyre on the screen. These are my favorites and a critique of the new Jane Eyre.
In 1983 my husband gave me a VCR copy of the Timothy Dalton version, which is 4 hours long. I have watched it dozens of times over the years. It is pure escapism for me. I never tire of it. No one has ever played Rochester quite like Dalton. He is too handsome for the part but his acting, brogue, and sheer sparkle is so captivating that your eyes are glued to him. He definitely steals the show from Jane in this version who is a little too understated and mousy. But she doesn’t ruin it for me.
In 2006 Masterpiece Theatre produced yet another 4 hour movie. The chemistry in this version between Jane and Rochester may be the best of all. This Jane is a little more antimated and pretty. Rochester is good but not Dalton caliber. I felt the romance and passion between the characters stronger in this adaptation and the ending is wonderfully delightful as they take the story a step further. It was a very satisfying conclusion.
The new Jane Eyre, made for the mass market, suffers from its two hours. I like Mia Wasikowska as Jane. She may be the best character image. Michael Fassbender was just OK as Rochester. He didn’t ruin it but didn’t sparkle in the part. The chemistry was somewhat lacking and because of the shortness of the movie it didn’t get time to develop. My husband remarked that the romance didn’t feel quite real. It didn’t bother me but then I have so much history in the story that it naturally flows for me.
Thornfield hall was perfect, feeling like the residence of Count Dracula. However the lighting was too dark through the entire movie. There was lots of natural candle light with shadows and candle glow on faces and places. It had its charm but more light in parts would have been a good contrast.
The movie wanted to have a unique twist so it began in the middle when Jane runs away. Then the story moves in flashbacks. It didn’t bother me, but I can see how it could get confusing to someone not familiar with the story.
When Jane is taken in by St. John Rivers and his sisters it is never revealed that she is related to them. I liked that. It always seemed a little to coincidental but then perhaps it was Providence.
For the shortness of the movie there was still some long contemplative scenes, beautifully thoughtful and emotional that surprised me were left in. The ending was rushed and did not satisfy. But still I liked it very much. A friend who saw it was very disappointed. Maybe it is hard to ruin Jane Eyre for me. 3 of 4 stars.