Friday, August 26, 2011

Jane Eyre

The most recent reworking of Jane Eyre is a delightful succinct offering to fans of 18th century English literature adaptations to the screen. Directed by Cary Fukunaga, the movie opens with Jane fleeing Thornfield Hall and lover Edward Rochester and being stranded on the moors. She makes her way to the home of the Rivers, and is taken in by St. John Rivers, her cousin and Mary and Diana Rivers who are St. John's sisters and also Jane's cousins. During her stay with them she reflects back upon her life and it is this reflection that forms the greater part of the film. In this way, director Fukunaga focuses the movie on the story of Jane and Edward.
Mia Wasikowska's portrayal of the intelligent and moral Jane is simply amazing. Wasikowska as Jane, tries to hide her emotions as the proper and prim Jane, but in doing so portrays what she is really feeling. It is this aspect of her portrayal that makes Wasikowska the definitive Jane. Her horror at discovering that Rochester is already married is palatable because it is played with quiet intensity by Jane.

Michael Fassbender is the tempestuous Edward Rochester and he too does a good job of capturing the essential character of Rochester.

This adaptation of Jane Eyre also features Judi Dench, a staple in many BBC productions, as his housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax. One thing we do see in this movie is the caring relationship between Mrs. Fairfax and Jane, especially when Jane returns to the burned out Thornfield Hall and meets the housekeeper who then tells Jane that she needn't have run away because she would have helped her.

With it's themes of religion, love, forgiveness and madness, Jane Eyre is a movie to be enjoyed. This cinematic offering is a little rushed because unlike the 2006 version which was a miniseries, it must offer a detailed and involved storyline over the course of a mere two hours. We don't get to see the transformation of Mr. Rochester from a gruff, reticent man to the warm master of Thornfield in love as Bronte did in the novel.

My preference is still for the 2006 version which starred Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. We get more of a sense of what Rochester was suffering though with his mad wife who was tricked upon him and the sense of desolation and hopelessness he experienced. There is also a more charged atmosphere between Edward and Jane as their forbidden love blossoms.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend this movie to those who love Pride and Prejudice, North and South and so forth and who want a quick dose of an English lit movie.

1 comment:

m said...

The Fukunaga version plus the William Hurt version combined would be close to a fuller picture of the horror of the lives that both Rochester and Jane lived. I have not seen your preferred version however. I am still waiting for a version which is a much fuller adaptation of Jane's journey.