Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jane Eyre: From Book to Film

Last week, I managed to see the new film of Jane Eyre at the cinema, an event I'd been longing for as this is one of my all-time favourite books. As always, I was a little nervous about the portrayal of Mr Rochester since he's been my literary hero for a long time, through many different versions of the novel in film and TV. I also loved the recent TV production starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, which had more time to develop the characters.

So what did I think? It was a beautifully made, atmospheric film, with stunning cinematography, excellent main characters and an intriguingly different beginning from most versions. I don't remember seeing Michael Fassbender before and I wasn't disappointed with his portrayal of Mr Rochester. Mia Wasikowska seemed the embodiment of the young, but strong Jane Eyre, and Judi Dench, excelled (as always) in her portrayal of Mrs Fairfax. And the Yorkshire accents sounded authentic.

But... one of the biggest disappointments for me was the love story itself. I love the passion in the book, and the relationship between Mr Rochester and Jane just didn't convince me in this version. I felt more emotion during the scenes with the young Jane and her fragile childhood friend at the terrible Lowood school. Perhaps the film was too short to develop the main romance with enough conviction, but even the ending left me, and my friends, a bit bemused. Although Thornfield Hall is a ruin at the end, this looked like a set piece and it was a bit incongruous for Jane to find Mrs Fairfax suddenly appearing in time for her arrival. And that rather diluted the final meeting between Jane and Mr Rochester.

Obviously a film is never going to be 100% accurate in bringing the pages of a novel to life, and something is bound to suffer. On the whole, it was an enjoyable, atmospheric film but I don't think it's the film version of Jane Eyre I'll most fondly remember.



Carolb said...

I think transferring classics like Jane Eyre to film will always be less than satisfying, as the story has to be set into a fixed running time. If you've read the book you know what's sadly had to be sacrificed to fit.

I enjoyed the last tv version of it too.

Frances Garrood said...

I haven't seen the film yet, but I've read similar comments in reviews of the film, Rosemary.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You're quite correct of course, Carol - running time will always compromise the original story in some way.

Glad to hear I'm not alone in my opinion, Frances! Thanks.

Debs Carr said...

I haven't seen this version, but I wasn't sure about the chemistry between the two actors when I saw the clip of the film. I'll wait to see it when it comes on tv, I think.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's interesting, Debs. It is a good film even with my slight reservations!

Joylene said...

Thank you for this, Rosemary. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. I must say the chemistry between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice, 2005 was intense. Very well done.

Talli Roland said...

I think I must be one of the few who really doesn't like 'Jane Eyre'. It just didn't appeal... and Mr Rochester... ergh. I can understand the appeal, though.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Joylene - thanks for visiting! Hope you enjoy the film when you see it.

Hi Talli - maybe you're a Wuthering Heights person? I like both, but definitely keener on Mr Rochester than Heathcliff!