Jane Eyre (2011)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Jane Eyre (2011) from Focus Features, BBC Films
Rated PG-13. Drama, Romance, Period Film

My thoughts: Many know the classic story of plain but quick-witted Jane Eyre, an orphan from a bleak childhood who, as a young woman, is hired on to be governess for the ward of one Mr. Rochester, the enigmatic, changeful master of Thornfield Hall. A critical secret of Mr. Rochester’s threatens to undo what happiness he and Jane find together in this dark but redemptive romance.

I’d describe this adaptation of the famous novel as dreary. Dreary, but, then, exquisite.

Admittedly, it took a bit of time for my automatic mental comparisons to the 1996 Miramax version to cease so that I could get absorbed in this one. Actually, it was my finding myself absorbed, amazed, that made me realize the comparing had stopped. I thought at first that this particular Mr. Rochester was too handsome to embody his character convincingly, as Rochester isn’t supposed to be a looker, but after a while, I was too absorbed by the performances to be distracted by that.

I must say, this version, with its weaknesses, might be best for viewers who’ve read the novel and who therefore wouldn’t have to wonder about details the film doesn’t explain, such as the story of Rochester’s ward, and what happens after the film’s ending. Oh, and Jane and her employer arrive at the threshold of romance a little too quickly for me here, but once they do arrive, do they ever play it well.

Plus, the last four words of the film. The last four words. And Rochester’s reaction. And the music.

Exquisite, I tell you.

My corresponding reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

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The UK trailer for Jane Eyre.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

classic-books-2

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Five Gold Stars

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Admittedly, seeing “spooky” snapshots of various Jane Eyre films made me reluctant to read this novel for years. But when I finally took the plunge, the book didn’t feel quite as spooky and dark as the film snapshots looked. (I had the same feeling when I finally read Northanger Abbey after years of avoiding it. All of the “spooky darkness” I found depicted on much of the media about it turned out to make up a pretty small fraction of the actual book.)

Going into it, I didn’t expect to admire Jane so much, but, ah! She’s quite a cookie! What a head on her shoulders. She’s not just some dull bore sitting off in a corner with dull thoughts, but she’s quick as all get out, with a well of desires along with her resolve. I was miffed to see her depicted in an early film as a pretty thing, a little songbird perched at the piano, melting Mr. Rochester’s heart with her sweet little tune. It took so much of the point out of her whole character, and I had to turn the movie off. (Rarely do I begin a movie without ever finishing it.)

Jane’s power as a heroine comes not from being a cutie, from being a figure of stunning talents to turn everyone’s heads and make everybody worship her, but her power comes from her inner landscape. She doesn’t have the face of a Miss Blanche to make her interesting, but the fact that Jane doesn’t need that in order to be subtly fascinating is what makes her…fascinating. It’s what makes her classic.

I’m glad I finally took the plunge with this not-so-incredibly-dark-after-all book, now one of my all-time favorite novels.

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I’ve seen about two and 1/3 of the many film adaptations of Jane Eyre (the fraction being the one I turned off before finishing.) Here’s a clip from the 2011 Focus Features adaptation. You’ll find my review of the film here.