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The Latest Jane Eyre Movie - my review

Thursday, February 16, 2012
I give you warning. I am a Jane Eyre purist. A Jane Eyre fanatic. It is my favourite book to read. Over and over. And everytime I get something more out of it than I did the last time I read it. I have it in paperback, hardback and unabridged audio (abridged is sacriligious), and own every movie ever made of the famous story by Charlotte Bronte.

Finally, last night I got to see the latest adaptation from Universal Studios. It arrived on dvd into the stores and I grabbed it. When we lived in Christchurch I avoided the cinemas. I don't like movie theatres anyway - they always make me feel a little claustrophobic. I think it's because of all the lighted exit signs they have displayed - as though they are expecting there to be a calamity. Combine that with earthquakes, and I wasn't going anywhere near them! So I had to wait until the DVD came out.


I was a little nervous starting it because of the last, recent adaptation which was dreadful! It is certainly a challenge to fit the very long life story of Jane Eyre into a movie length feature.
The best movie adaptation of Jane Eyre is this one pictured below - it is the full length of the book, almost word perfect. The acting is a little stilted, but for purists like me, it is perfect.


This movie adaptation (pictured below) is awful. Terrible Awful. Dreadful. It is pretty to look at, but they ravaged the original story and totally destroyed the moral character that is Jane Eyre. You could tell the actress had botox lips (so unJanian and certainly not common in the 1700's), and Mr. Rochester was far, far too old.


And now to my review of this movie, the latest work.


First of all, the main characters, Jane and Edward were perfect. They are not pretty people in the book, she is plain and simple, and he is old and hardened. I think the casting was great for this movie, and Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax the housekeeper rounded it off really well.

What I really liked about this movie was that the screenwriters focused on the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester. The movie starts with a scene almost at the end of the story, where Jane runs away in desperation from Thornfield Hall, and is left desolate on the moors of northern England. Then there are flashback of her life when she was a child, all weaved in with the main story of her coming to Thornfield and falling in love with her master. I think, for a movie length adaptation, this was probably the best way to do it - rather than try and cram all her childhood into the beginning and make the mistake of not doing it justice, because Mr. Rochester and Jane and the secret of Thornfield Hall are the main theme and to rush through that would do away with the beauty of the story.

Ok, I will admit that there were little irritations with the movie - some of the most famous lines were uttered as anti-climaxes, and there were little indiscrepancies such as Jane climbing out the window when she escaped Thornfield. And not declaring the family connection with the Rivers family - that was a little clumsily done, but I understand why the producers leave it out, because it would seem a little too coincidental in a short movie to have that. But all in all, I felt that it was very well done. I will be watching it again with pleasure. The sccenery and the settings were beautiful. Not overdone, or stage managed, but appeared authentic and real. There were a few moments of fright and suspense, and the music really added to the mood of the whole movie, which has to be admitted, is little dark. I watched the deleted scenes after the movie, and I'm very, very glad they were deleted. It would have ruined the movie to put some of them in!



The one important thing for Jane, in the original story, is how she overcomes the temptation of her love and physical attraction for Mr. Rochester by obeying her moral code. Of doing what is right in God's eyes. That is what I believe to be the climax of the story. Coming to a crossroads, and choosing the harder, most painful direction, because her belief of pleasing God came before her belief in bringing happiness to herself. Of doing the right thing.

I judge every Jane Eyre movie on how they deal with this issue. In a modern world, where anything goes and where that 'anything' sells, I feel it must always be tempting for a producer or writer to adjust Jane Eyre a little (as they did in the last awful movie) to sell it to the masses. But in this latest one, I think they did a good job of portraying Jane's agonising decision accurately. It is a very moving scene in the movie where Edward is hanging on to her begging with her to stay with him, and she resists in the face of every temptation and desire, and flees.

And in the end it is rewarded, not just for her; and that except for the one year they were apart, she can live peaceably with herself and her conscience, but also for Mr. Rochester, even though he has to endure painful consequences of his past 'error'.

I liked the movie alot, for a short film of Jane Eyre. The settings and mood of the film alone are wonderful, and combined with the excellent casting and dialogue that flowed, it is a movie I recommend for any Jane Eyre fan. It's not perfect, but it's not bad either.

I especially liked the ending. The emotion and feeling, even though it appears to be cut short, made me cry. I loved it!


8 comments :

Max said...

I enjoyed your review, and agreed with your assessment. For me the natural sounding Yorkshire accents of the two main characters really made it for me. I sat anxiously in the Rangiora picture theatre watching this a while back-now it's closed due to risk of collapse!

Sandy Addison said...

Looks Good - I am always after a good movie but I shall have to Read Jane Eyre again

Diane N. said...

Thanks for the review! Sounds like one to rent some time.

scrutiny said...

I'll definitely be watching this! Thank you for the recommendation. Out of interest, have you ever read Wide Sargasso Sea? One of my favourite books ever; though if you're a purist you might not enjoy this book at all. :)
~Iris

Rachel said...

Hello Iris! Great to hear from you! How are you? Miss all you PC friends. I'm definitely interested in new books to read. thanks for the recommendation. By a purist, I mean that I like movie adaptations to be true to the story! So many of them aren't. :o(
I'd love to know more about that book.
xx

scrutiny said...

Hi Rachel!! Got your other message, thanks! Wide Sargasso Sea is sort of like a prequel to Jane Eyre, but it totally flips everything around. It's nothing like other pre-/sequels to classic books - it's actually really, really good on its own. But some people find it blasphemous because it really makes you reassess everything in Jane Eyre. If your definition of purist is that you like the movie to follow the book - I'm the same! But it depends on the adaptation - some make the book better, some are better than the book... it all varies with me. Big hugs! I enjoy your blog a lot! :D

Heather L. said...

I loved the beauty of the scenes in this latest film -- the clothing, the lighting, the grays.....just gorgeous

Poppy Q said...

I liked this version too, and enjoyed that Jane had no makeup on and plain hair, I hate it when they are overdone. Mr Rochester wasn't my fave though, I didn't fancy him myself, but can see how Jane was charmed.

Just waiting for it to drop in price, and I'll be buying my own copy.

Julie Q

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