Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jane Eyre.

Tonight I watched the new Jane Eyre again. And this time, I jotted down some notes as I watched. Go ahead and laugh, but this is the only way I can remember the things I wanted to say about the film. :) There will be spoilers, so if you don't know the plot of the story, be warned.

I read Jane Eyre exactly two years ago and absolutely loved it. Shortly after that, I saw the 1943 Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine version of the film. I liked it a lot but was disappointed because so much was changed or left out. That was the only film adaptation I had seen up until this week.

I really love this version. It's a beautiful film. There are a few little things that I didn't like, which I'll mention later. But since the details of the novel aren't fresh on my mind like they were when I first saw the 1943 version, I'm willing to overlook the little things. :)

First of all, this movie has a dark, mysterious feel. They really emphasized the Gothic elements of the story, a lot like Orson Welles did in the other version. In the special features, it's mentioned that the director wanted a mix of a love story and a horror film. Don't worry- it didn't come across that way at all, in my opinion. :) But Jane Eyre is a darker story, more like Charles Dickens than Jane Austen.

The casting was perfect. Mia Wasikowska was perfect as Jane Eyre, and Michael Fassbender was very good as Mr. Rochester. I have to say that as hard as the filmmakers try to make actresses like Mia "plain," as Jane is supposed to be, it's still obvious how pretty they are. :) I've seen this so many times in pictures of the different Janes. In this case, they give Mia a dreadfully unflattering hairstyle (or, according to the special features, it's a wig) to try to distract from the fact that she might be a little too pretty to be Jane Eyre.

I thought that the young Jane was perfect as well. She really even looks like a younger version of Mia. And I have to laugh when she jumps on her cousin after he's hit her, and he lays there screaming like a little wimp. It drives me crazy that so many good literary heroines end up in cruel or dysfunctional families. This might sound terrible, but I also find it amusing when young Jane is asked how she might avoid "the place the wicked go after death," and she responds: "I must keep in good health and not die." I've always thought that was funny, because she's just as serious and sober as she can be when she says it. She's not trying to be smart.


I loved Judi Dench as the housekeeper {I've had a fondness for her ever since the first time I saw her as the sweet Miss Matty in Cranford}. I love her expression when she's eating with Jane and Adele, and Rochester is outside shooting. And her line, "He's taken to singing." Sally Hawkins was incredibly creepy as Mrs. Reed, especially considering she plays Anne Elliot in my favorite version of Persuasion. I was glad that the Rivers family was included (they're not even in the 40s version). It was nice to see Tamzin Merchant, also known as Georgiana Darcy in the best version of P&P *cough*. But what is with the English pronunciation of "St. John?" It sounds like they're saying "sin gin."

I'm so glad they kept these quotes, quite possibly my two favorite quotes from this story:

"You transfix me quite."

"And if God had blessed me with beauty and wealth, I could make it as hard for you to leave me as it is for me to leave you."

My favorite scenes by far are the ones between Jane and Rochester together. The fire during the night, the proposal, the one where he's begging her not to leave. I just wanted to see more of them, you know? I realize this is Jane's story, but I wanted more of her relationship with Rochester- to see how it developed instead of it seeming to happen rather suddenly. But what was there was lovely. :)

And here are the things I wasn't so sure about. I still don't know how I feel about the flashback idea. This film starts with Jane leaving Thornfield, wandering the moors, and meeting the Rivers family. Then there are flashbacks to her childhood and her time with Rochester. I didn't really mind this myself. But I think that for casual viewers, people who aren't familiar with the story, it could be a little confusing. I would be confused by it if I hadn't already read the book.

I wish some of the details and scenes hadn't been cut. Like the gypsy scene. I want to see that in a film! Is it in the newest mini series (2006 or whatever it is)?

I know that some people consider Jane Eyre a feminist novel, but I've never considered it that. I was a little disappointed that in this film, when Rochester asks Jane to stay and be his mistress rather than leave him, Jane's refusal was based mostly on herself and her self-respect. When I read the novel, I saw evidence of God and Jane's relationship with him everywhere. Her refusal did have something to do with self-respect, but it was also largely because it would be wrong in the eyes of God. I know in the film she says something like, "Help me, God," as she pulls herself away from him, but I still felt like that wasn't the focus.

The scenery and the music, like in 2005 Pride and Prejudice, are incredibly gorgeous. The interior scenes are dark, but the outside scenes are full of green and stone walls and beautiful trees and moors and all of the lovely things I associate with English scenery. :) The haunting music is by the super-talented Dario Marianelli, who is also responsible for the 2005 P&P soundtrack. I bought the soundtrack weeks ago on iTunes and have been listening to it ever since. I'm listening to it right now, in fact. It's amazing how much more you notice the score of a film when you've already been listening to it.

I was the slightest bit disappointed with the special features on the DVD. As someone who loves watching features and documentaries about the making of films, there just wasn't enough. :) The deleted scenes were good, but I'm glad they left out the creepy ones with ghosty Helen. The other features were good but just entirely too short!

Anyway, I loved this film. I keep hearing mixed reactions: some people love it, some people don't. I guess it's like that with most classic novels that are adapted to film.

Have you seen it? I want to know what you thought. 

Until next time,


  1. I hadn't read the book in a couple years when I watched it, so I was totally confused at the beginning! I caught on quickly though :) Yeah, I thought they fell in love too suddenly too. I was like, "Huh? When did they go from talking to each other to loving each other?" Other than that, I thought the movie was gorgeous.

  2. Okay, now I really want to see this. I think I might read the book first, though. :)

    I love how you do your movie reviews, by the way! They are very fun to read and go more into what you liked/disliked rather than plot summary.

  3. I really like the book, and I am so excited to watch the movie.:)

  4. I've recently become obsessed with this version of "Jane Eyre," as I have been with the book for ages; when I first saw it in a theater, I couldn't get past Rochester's blue eyes (they're black in the book!) and how many book-scenes were cut. But since I DVR'd it off Cinemax last month, and now think of it more as a "highlights reel" of the book, I can't stop rewatching it. Wasikowska and Fassbender inhabit their roles so perfectly, despite some physical differences from book-Jane and -Rochester, and the cinematography and score are just gorgeous.

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