Jane Eyre

Yikes, I’m late. It’s spring. I saw a bee today, the first one I’ve noticed, and I’ve been dealing with all sorts of vegetation problems outside, the result of several years’ neglect while I wrote, or, more likely, lurked around inside thinking about starting to write. But never mind all that.

I finally got to see Jane Eyre, weeks after everyone else, and I think it’s a good enough interpretation that it could stand a little more discussion. So I loved it, unreservedly, and reader, I would marry this movie given half the chance.

I believe–is this true?–that it’s the only film version that does not resort to a voiceover to link plot elements. Yet the director took some liberties with the timeline, beginning it as Jane flees Thornfield, and actually repeating about a minute of footage when the story catches up with itself. The whole Lowood part of the book (ooh, all that discipline!) is shortened, skimming over Helen Burns and ignoring the saintly Miss Temple. The Rochester-in-drag as a fortune-teller scene was wisely abandoned and if I had any complaint it was that Michael Fassbender was too hot (even in a silly nightie. Oooh). However, even that worked; at the end, he was frail and diminished and sporting a beard a woman could get lost in.

And Jane herself–well, I’ve never liked any of the others, such as the permanently cross and overbitten Ruth Wilson in the 2006 BBC version, the too-pretty Charlotte Gainsbourg (1996), and I thought at moments in the 1970 version with Susannah York that she almost got it. But Mia Wasikowska was amazing; she portrayed such a sense of inner passion behind the mask.

One scene that was omitted, which surprised me at first, was that in which Jane’s wedding veil is ripped in half by Bertha (uh, you do know she’s the mad wife in the attic, right? oops, spoiler). But it made sense in the understated interpretation, abandoning the more obviously gothic elements.

There were some lovely moments–the sexy, and again, understated scene after the fire when Jane and Rochester almost kiss (they rub noses. Aaaw); when Jane’s wedding gown drops around her feet, mirroring the earlier scene where her “fine clothes” are taken from her at Lowood.

The locations and lighting and soundtrack were incredible. Most of it was filmed in Derbyshire, and here are some of the locations. Haddon Hall, left, is Thornfield:

Have you seen the movie? What did you think? What was your favorite scene?

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Robin L. Rotham
11 years ago

I’m so jealous! It will never come here — I’ll have to wait for pay-per-view or NetFlix to see it.

Jane George
11 years ago

I think you might be right about the voice over. I saw it with my friend and our 14 yr old daughters. My daughter had just finished the book and watched the Ciaran Hinds/Samantha Morton version. The other teen was new to the story and said she was confused. (There was whispering between them during the show.)

I loved the new version as it delved more deeply into their personalities. My daughter prefers the Hinds version because it’s not as dark, it’s less confusing, and he has amazing green eyes.

I oughtta hand her a romance novel pretty soon. ;-j

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Well, you’ve just about convinced me to go see it, Janet. (pointing out that Michael Fassbender is hot helped a lot)

My favorite version is the 1943 one with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles, but mostly because I love the Lowood part with the truly captivating Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns. I’ve loved that part of the movie since seeing it on TV as a child.

I don’t think you are late. The movie was just released about a week ago, wasn’t it?

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
11 years ago

The movie was released in NY and LA about a month and has just gone into wide release because it’s doing so well. I too liked the Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine version but mainly for Welles since Fontaine does her usual simpering act. I didn’t mind that Michael Fassbender was so hot, because he’s not classically good-looking, just sexy. Those hands, and he has nice feet too. I thought he and Mia had great chemistry. Loved Jamie Bell as St. John as well and Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax.

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

I’ve heard rumors that this version *gets* that Jane Eyre is a horror story. True?

11 years ago

Oh, I am so very jealous you got to see it, Janet!! Unfortunately it will never come here, as the good people of Shreveport/Bossier are entirely too action flick oriented. So, like Robin, I shall have to wait for NetFlix. But it sounds wonderful! And, oh, the scenery is quite lovely!

Cara King
11 years ago

I did wonder if the “starting in the middle” part would confuse those who didn’t know the story — Jane George, thanks for confirming it!

Though I wished that Rochester were taller, or Jane Eyre slightly less tall, I really loved this version. Janet, I agree with you on Jane! As I mentioned previously, I’ve found too many previous Jane Eyres (or Janes Eyre?) to be good and meek…when the Jane I know is the stubbornest creature ever. This Jane, though, had the immense will I see in Bronte’s book.

And yes, gorgeous, gorgeous countryside….

Jeanne M
11 years ago

From your review this movie sounds like it finally does true justice to the book. Your photographs were wonderful but now it’s time you plan a tour – and take us all with you!

11 years ago

I haven’t seen it and I have been desperately waiting for it to come to a theatre near me!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Now I am dying to see it! Gorgeous scenery, sexy hero, stubborn passionate heroine – sounds like they may have gotten nearer the mark than any previous incarnations. I need to check to see if it will come far enough South for me to see it!

11 years ago

I saw this two weeks ago and mirror Janet’s comments (although I rather liked the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson version). Last September my husband and I took a walking tour of the Peak District. We chose that particular walk (after much whining on my part) precisely because it had so many literary connections; we even spent a night in the area Bronte chose as setting for Jane Eyre.

Mia Wasikowska is too tall for the “despise me because I’m plain and poor and little” speech, but otherwise I think she did a fine job. Mr. Rochester is supposed to be compelling and charismatic, and Michael Fassbender is definitely all that (plus in the scene where he leans out the window to call after Jane he has a very attractive posterior). It wouldn’t have worked if he’d been too pretty. Jude Law or Orlando Bloom, for example, would not have worked in this role. However, I think either of them would have been better for St. John Rivers than Jamie Bell. Nothing against Bell, but St. John is supposed to be as beautiful as an angel or a Greek statue, and Bell doesn’t quite measure up. The recent movie also left out mention of his romance with the local squire’s daughter, which is a shame as it adds a facet to his character that I think is important. He has denied himself human love and physical passion, and it is one more way in which St. John and Rochester represent opposites.

11 years ago

Another movie I haven’t seen that I really want to. There just doesn’t seem to be time. I hate to watch movies without my husband, but we are on such opposite schedules I may have to start doing so.

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