Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Many Faces of Jane Eyre

All right, Jane Eyre has been a favorite book of mine since I was 13. I love the heroine - plain, serious, strong, righteous, steadfast. And Mr. Rochester is, of course, a regular Byronic hero - brooding, impassioned, powerful, mysterious. As far as gothic novels go, it's definitely a winner.

So guess what - there have been over twenty-seven film adaptations of this book. Twenty-seven! I have NOT seen all 27, but I have seen quite a few. Some I like, some I loathe, some I wish I could copy and paste elements out of them to make one perfect, perfect Jane Eyre movie. Sigh. The following is my diagnosis of said adaptations.

1944, starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. Joan F. has a flighty, frightened style of acting (have you seen "Rebecca?") that, while effective, is NOT Jane. Also, Orson Welles just reminds me a lot of "Poor Judd" from Oklahoma. Can't really get over it!

1983, starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke. This is definitely a favorite. Timothy Dalton pretty much IS Rochester, and Zelah looks closest to how I pictured Jane in the book (though a little older). One rotten tomato: sometimes Dalton's impassioned outbursts are a little TOO Byronic for me...borderline cheesy? At times perhaps? Rarely though. Still a favorite.

1996, starring William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsborough. Seen a bit of this one. Fun fact, this was directed by Franco Zeffirrelli! He did Romeo and Juliet (the 70's version). This one's interesting...the Jane was a little too stoic for me, but I thought this Rochester was a pretty good choice. Better than the next one anyways!

1997, starring Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. I've seen part of this. Okay, does anyone else think this Jane looks like Mackenzie Bezzant? Even a little? Haha okay maybe not. Anyways, Ciaran Hinds is not Mr. Rochester. 1) He has a moustache. 2) He is Captain Wentworth. 3) He has a moustache. Did I mention that Rochester should NOT have a moustache?

2006, starring Toby Stephens (Orsino in 12th night!)and Ruth Wilson. Okay, I really like this one. Visually stunning, gorgeous soundtrack, Ruth is spunky (maybe too much? In the book Jane is more sedate) and Toby does a surprisingly fantastic job! He's dark but still teases, and he's manly. The downside: Hollywood. Of course they find a way to make things sketch. Grr...

I'm curious about the 2011 version! Jane is young! Like in the book. And this Rochester seems to have a good piercing presence. Aunt Janet, have you seen it? Is it praiseworthy and of good report?

Well, I successfully postponed studying for my last final by posting something that probably makes no difference either way. :) At least the book will always be good.


Marie W said...

Looks like I have a new viewing list. Netflix "watch instantly," don't fail me now!

Janet said...

Alas, I have only seen Timothy Dalton's version. I loved that version so much, I never bothered with the others. You did such a great survey of the movies, I am going to have to watch more. I haven't seen the new one yet, but plan to.

Unknown said...

The 2006 version of Jane Eyre is the best of all of them in my opinion. :) I think the acting is awesome, and "Jane" and "Mr. Rochester" were awesome together. It was like watching real life, instead of a "play". They could really look and "feel" the part! Loved it!!!

Northern Dreamer said...

Just finished watching the 2011 version, and although I think the actors COULD have been a good fit, the whole adaptation was way too hurried to make it a good one in my opinion. They left out SO many key moments that helped to build the intensity of the story, and I just came away feeling that it was very disjointed and rushed. I was just so disappointed. The 2006 version is still my absolute favourite - I personally think Toby was the perfect Mr. Rochester!

Morgan Kristocale said...

I first saw "Jane Eyre" when I was 17 (many years ago) and fell in love. In my opinion, nothing can touch this production. I'm a fan of Timothy Dalton, but I was very disappointed in that production. I saw another production and was highly disappointed in it as well, so I'll stick with the original. If it ain't broken... you know? =)