Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"It is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame."*

First off, a big congratulations to the UCONN men's basketball team on their third NCAA championship!!! Well done, Huskies! I am looking forward to enjoying a proper bedtime now that the "hoopla" of March Madness is over. (pun intended - WAH WAAAAH!)

Right, **SPOILERS** ahead, although as the book was written 164 years ago, if you don't know this story by now, well...you probably aren't reading this blog anyhow.

On Sunday, "Miss Post" and I saw Cary Fukunaga's film of Jane Eyre. Before we went, I rewatched a couple of old versions of Jane Eyre (the Samantha Morton/Ciaran Hinds one and the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson one) for comparison's sake. The Zefferelli version with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt is permanently imprinted in my mind, so I didn't need to rewatch that one.

I liked the new version a lot, and it has a lot of good things going for it: great cast, gorgeous costumes (I want Jane's paisley shawl from the end), amazing scenery, and a beautiful score by Dario Marianelli, who did the score to Pride and Prejudice (2005). The film was very moody, and I felt it did a great job capturing the bleakness and solitude of living on the moors of Yorkshire. I thought that the cast also did a great job of conveying their loneliness, their longing, and their inner passion in the face of a repressive and (at times ambiguously) moral society.

Mia Wasikowska (who was brilliant in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) strikes the perfect balance between Jane's shy, proper reserve and her inner passion. Sometimes adult Jane gets played a little too wishy-washy for my taste (Morton), but Wasikowska does a great job with this. Michael Fassbender's Rochester is sheer intensity, with a fierceness and cruelty to his wit. (Stephens played the part more sardonically; Fassbender is just mean.) When he is first introduced, he is definitely unattractive in his unlikeablity, but he starts to soften as the movie unfolds. The two leads have a good chemistry together (I had read some reviews stating otherwise). In particular, in the scene where Rochester gets Jane to help him with Mason after the attack, I felt like they were no longer two individuals, but a team. (Yay, Team Rochester!) Judi Dench was a very likeable Mrs. Fairfax, and Jamie Bell was very serious as St. John Rivers (I was concerned about the casting of both of those parts. Bell was perhaps a little too serious.) The Rivers' part of the story didn't get truncated the way it has been in other versions, which was good. It is as an important part of Jane's development as the red room and Lowood School.

My biggest complaint: by keeping to a 120 minute running time (with credits), things got cut, and because of that, some parts of the story moved far too fast. I find it interesting that they didn't add in even 10 minutes of incidents in the development of Jane and Rochester's relationship, which was shortchanged. A key part of the novel is Rochester's baiting of Jane, or, as Miss Post and I put it, "I love you so much; I am going to tell you that I am marrying someone else. Are you jealous? Are you miserable? APRIL FOOL!!"

I feel that 2011's Jane Eyre is to 2005's Pride & Prejudice as 2006's "Jane Eyre" is to 1995's "Pride & Prejudice". A beautiful piece to be sure, but an incomplete realization of the novel. The core audience for this movie will sit and watch a six hour miniseries on PBS or BBC video; they'd sit for 10 more minutes in a movie theater. (Even with the person who was sitting next to me doing her best impression of Catherine Morland reading The Mysteries of Udolpho. Lady, it wasn't that scary. Seriously.) I definitely will be adding this one to my collection, and I also think that a second viewing on the big screen might be in order.

*My favorite line of Jane Eyre (the imagery just gets me):
"Because, I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you- especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, - you'd forget me."


  1. Melanie, you liked it more than I did, as you could tell from my review at (http://janitesonthejames.blogspot.com/2011/04/jane-eyre-2011-review-by-two.html). Loved your "spoilers" comment! And I love your favorite Rochester line--it's unforgettable. I can't believe the makers of this movie did not know that the Jane Eyre audience would most certainly have been willing to sit a little longer in order to have a little more time to see the relationship develop and to have a more satisfying, less abrupt ending. I think 2 1/2 hours would have worked.

  2. Very good observations and review. I laughed in agreement at your statement above regarding the fans of Jane Eyre. I agree with Jean that this movie could have done an extra 30 minutes. I read the book right before I saw the movie, so maybe my mind filled in the blanks. I can't imagine someone who doesn't know the story would understand what was happening and that the Rivers were discovered cousins of Jane. I really liked the scenery, the natural lighting, and the actors. I felt there was chemistry between the two stars and Fassbender played Rochester quite well. Although I don't feel like the movie really portrayed the APRIL FOOL's joke well enough for me. I wish they kept in the gypsy scene.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, ladies. It sounds like a lot of us feel the same way about the development of the romance: more perverse torture for Jane, please!! Bring back the gypsy!

    Anne, agreed; the "April Fool" reveal could have been a bit more dramatic, an issue I think could've been easily fixed with a musical cue. (I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but Marinelli's score at that point in the film was very similar to his score for V for Vendetta when Evey walks into the rain. It needn't have been THAT dramatic, but a little more OOMPH would have been good. And the lightning.I LOVED that imagery in the novel.)

    I hope that when the film gets released on dvd that there will be an extended or director's cut version putting in scenes to "fix" parts of the story. Two and a half hours is still very manageable, especially when you have a "pause" button.



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