Now I’m a Movie Critic: Jane Eyre

I just watched the most recent version of the movie Jane Eyre, which people tell me came out a while ago but since I only see things on HBO, it feels fresh and brand new to ME.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, this version stars Alice in Wonderland, whose real name is Mia Washawashawoohoo, Magneto, and Billy Elliot, who seems to have hung up his dance shoes (Don’t do it, Billy!  You were born to be in the balley!).

Now before I go any further, I should warn you that I wrote my college senior thesis on Jane Eyre.  And here you thought I was a nerd.  Nope, totally COOL.  Actually, it wasn’t just on Jane Eyre.  It was also on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, which for some reason no one ever makes movies of, and people SHOULD, because what’s sexier than a boss who puts on a nightgown and a wig just to get in bed with his maid and steal her virtue?  Seriously–DON’T YOU WANT TO SEE THAT IN A MOVIE?  I know I do.

Back to Jane Eyre.

********Stop right here if you’ve never read Jane Eyre, not because I’m worried about spoiling it for you but because you shouldn’t be wasting your time reading stupid blog posts when you could be reading one of the most romantic books in the entire universe.  GO READ IT.**********

So the movie did a nice job of moving through Jane’s early years, which is the part of the book that I find absolutely unbearable because almost everyone is cruel to poor passionate little Jane and I hate when little kids are lonely and mistreated–not that other people necessarily like it but it seems to get under my skin more in fiction than it does anyone else I know.  Anyway, the director got us safely through that part and then she meets Rochester and I happen to find Magneto very appealing and sexy even when he can’t bend metal, so that was good and Alice in Wonderland is just the right mixture of plain and pretty, and  Judi Dench was kind of wasted but it’s always nice to see her, like when your great-aunt shows up at your wedding and you can’t spend that much time with her but it’s nice to see her dear old familiar face out there in the sea of people.

There’s never enough dialogue between Jane and Rochester to suit me in adaptations–it’s always (understandably) truncated and (less understandably) dumbed down, I guess so modern audiences will understand it, but the whole POINT of their talks together is that they’re able to communicate with each other in a way no one else can keep up with, so it’s supposed to go over your head a little. Anyway, they successfully connect, nd then we all know what happens (or if we don’t, how many times do I have to tell you to stop reading this and go read THAT?) and then Jane runs away, meets Billy Elliot, inherits a fortune and goes back to find Rochester.  And then.  Nothing.  She holds his hand and they kiss.

The End.

Didn’t anyone involved with this move READ THE BOOK?  The whole point of the ending of Jane Eyre is that their positions are reversed: now she’s the one who’s rich and strong, and his life has been ruined and he’s lost various body parts, and now she gets to TORTURE him the way he tortured her.  And that’s why it’s so incredibly satisfying.

See, when Rochester’s rich and powerful, he torments Jane by pretending he’s going to marry another woman.  He’s well aware Jane loves him.  He loves her.  But he strings out this whole “I’m going to marry someone else” thing until her passion explodes and he can say, “Ha, just joking, I really love you as much as you love me.”  Fine.  Great.  But at the end of the book, when she’s doing better than he is, she turns the tables completely, and tells him all about cute Billy Elliot who wanted to marry her, and who’s a much better dancer than Rochester is.  Rochester sits there, blind and suffering, assuming she’s going to leave him for this better-looking guy, until SHE says, “Ha, just joking, I still love you.”

It’s total wish fulfillment for every woman who’s ever had to wait on a man’s pleasure (and back in 19th century England, I’m guessing there were quite a few of those).  And they completely cut it out of the movie, ending it with a whimper, not a bang.  Come on, guys–we already know Jane’s capable of love: it’s the fact that she can match his cruelty with her own that makes her so awesome!



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7 responses to “Now I’m a Movie Critic: Jane Eyre

  1. Deb Z.

    I am, also, a Jane Eyre fan (those Bronte sisters knew how to weave a tale). While I liked this version, the one that I adore is the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre version with Ruth Wilson and Toby (sigh) Stephens. It is longer so it gets at more of the detail and the ending is truer to the novel (it is written and directed by women). Check it out some time if you have a few hours and some strong tea.

  2. Claire

    I love that mini-series. I’ve watched it a couple of times! I think I read that he’s Maggie Smith’s son.

  3. Deb Z.

    Then I’m preaching to the choir! Yes, he is Maggie Smith’s son and does mostly stage work. I thought he was wonderful as Mr. Rochester.

  4. Claire

    He has oddly small hands though–now that I’ve mentioned it, youj’ll notice it and it will bother you (sorry). But I liked him a lot too. It was much more passionate than the movie version.

    Did you ever see the Timothy Dalton version in the mid-80’s? I included an ad for it from TV guide in my college thesis. I was very proud of that–I figured I was probably the first student to put a TV ad in her English dept thesis.

  5. Deb Z.

    That’s one version I haven’t seen. Love that you used a TV Guide ad in your thesis. I will now watch for his hands. It gives me an excuse to watch it again.

  6. suzan

    Jane Eyre is a favorite of mine. I saw the newest release 3 times. The first time I just sat there and thought “is that it?” The friend with me said the same thing. It took a bit to get used to the abrupt changes in time etc The second time I saw it was with friends who weren’t overly familiar with the story both 20 somethings and 60. They all liked it but were a bit confused. The third time was at a friends’ house with a bunch of others and I guess I adjusted because it was okay by then. I don’t think it tells the story well at all. I do think the cinematography was great and the actors they picked were good. I also enjoy Toby Stephens version best, his facial expressions are just priceless and the connection they have as in the book you can just feel. I also like the Ciaran Hinds version. After all Rochester is described as dark and brooding. He is a tad gruff as I would picture Rochester. The Dalton version lets just say has lots of emotion – almost embarrassingly so but I’m sure that’s how they felt. There’s also a “Hurt” version. John…..I can’t recall his name.

  7. Claire

    I love the Toby Stephens version. (He’s Maggie Smith’s son, if I remember correctly.) That may be my favorite. I’ve always liked the Orson Welles one because he looked the way I pictured Rochester. William Hurt, I think, played Rochester but he didn’t work for me. I only saw a couple of minutes of the Ciaran Hinds one but it felt wrong to me. (I loved him in PERSUASION though.)

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