The Books-To-Movie Challenge for August was the 2011 film adaptation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is one of my all time favorite novels that I reread frequently and when I heard that a new version was being done by the same company that did the 2005 adaption of Pride and Prejudice I was excited. Then when I found out Judie Dench was to be in it I was really ecstatic!
Visually I have mixed feelings about this version. Some of the cinematography is breathtaking, the scene where Jane and Mr. Rochester meet is fabulous, the castle destroyed at the end is breathtaking but (I know you felt that coming) some of the film is so dark. By that I mean the lighting is so poor for some of it that I had trouble seeing everything that was going on when I originally saw it in the theater.
As far as the Gothic elements of the novel, I felt like the film adaptation did a good job without having the Gothic elements overwhelm the story line. The scene with the child Jane in the red room was especially well done, in my opinion.
Not surprisingly I loved Dame Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper. I did think it was an interesting change at the end of the film where Mrs. Fairfax told Jane she would have given her money if she would have said anything. I don’t remember that being in the novel but it did add a warmth and love to a rather austere character. In the novel Mrs. Fairfax doesn’t approve of the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester, she clearly believes in the line between the classes and dislikes Jane towards the end because Jane is willing to marry Mr. Rochester.
I was disappointed that they cut out the gypsy scene, as that is one of my favorite scenes in the novel. I was interested to see how Michael Fassbender would pull off playing the gypsy lady but alas, it was not included in this version of the film. I was also disappointed they didn’t include the twins and the doctor who was studying their ability to communicate with each other over long distances. I feel that they helped explain why Jane was able to hear Mr. Rochester after they had separated, to know that she was needed by him and to return.
The sexual tension between Jane and Mr. Rochester was amazingly well done! The body language and expressions of both Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender was incredible is portraying their character’s feelings. The scenes between the two of them were so well done I wished they would have shot more. Mia does such a good job of delivering Jane’s lines and shooting down Mr. Rochester’s ridiculous flights of fancy. The scene between Jane and Rochester where he tries to convince her to run away with him had me in tears in the theater because the emotion was so well done between the two characters.
I was so glad that this version finally has a plain Jane. I don’t think Mia wears any makeup at all during the entire film and the style of her hair adds to her plainness. Since this is such a key element in the novel I have been disappointed in Hollywood’s beautification of Jane in the past (can we say the 1940s version where Jane is beautiful?!) but was very pleased by this version.
The changes that were made to the end of the novel I was disappointed in, I felt like we didn’t really get to know St. John Rivers. We didn’t get to see his disappointment in love, he only mentions he was recently disappointed but no details about his past love. We also don’t find out that the Rivers and Jane are really related, that is part of the reason she shared her wealth with them because they are her cousins and she valued that relationship more than the money. I do think that Jamie Bell does a good job portraying St. John Rivers andt looks pretty hot while doing it.
Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels of all time. Jane sticks to her morals, she doesn’t lower her standards because she knows she deserves more than what Rochester is offering but in the end she gets her love. I think that is sometimes missing from the novels and film written now, this adherence to your morals despite the provocation or what is being offered.
Being well acquainted with the novel and having watched the BBC’s version numerous times I follow the story without any trouble but my sister’s fiance, being unfamiliar with the story, watched this version with us recently and I realized how much of the story this version is missing. I know that large sections were cut out of the film because of time constraints but his comments and questions really brought out how much was glossed over or skipped. I came to the conclusion that for this version you would really need to know the story to be able to follow and understand everything that happens. That being said, I really like this version. What did you think? Jonathan Stewart Jersey