Monday, November 28, 2011

Revisiting Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages.

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

I know not everyone sees value in rereading books. But. I just can't help it. If I love a book once, I'm going to want to revisit it. Again and again and again. After all, if I never wanted to read it again...ever...could I even really say I loved it? Or loved, loved, loved it?

Jane Eyre was a pleasure to reread. It really was. From the first page to the last, it kept me satisfied. There was so much to savor, so much to slowly absorb. I didn't rush this one. I didn't want to rush this one. I wanted to enjoy every moment of this one. Because books as wonderful as Jane Eyre just aren't that easy to find.

Though Jane Eyre has been adapted to films many times, I don't think it's a novel that adapts particularly well. The novel is told in first person. We see EVERYTHING through Jane's eyes. It is a very personal connection the reader has to make with Jane if the novel is to be appreciated and loved. If you don't come to love Jane, if you don't come to understand Jane, if you don't come to see the world through Jane's eyes, if you don't see Mr. Rochester as Jane does, if you don't LOVE him as Jane does, then you're not getting the full experience.

I was disappointed with the 2011 adaptation. Especially with Mr. Rochester. Why? Well, if you didn't already LOVE Mr. Rochester, then you would have no real reason--other than appearance, perhaps?--to love him. By taking the words out of his mouth, by eliminating almost all of his dialogue with Jane, by eliminating the oh-so-crucial gypsy scene, viewers see only a slightly teasing Mr. Rochester with a very deep, very dark secret. We see him only at his very, very worst, for the most part. And the scene after Jane knows the truth, well, it just seems so far removed from anything in the book. It was seeking out that scene in the book, it was wanting to know how the *real* Mr. Rochester treated Jane after the big shocking reveal, that led me to reread the book.

The BBC production (from early 1980s) starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke is a much, much, much better adaptation. In my opinion. I loved, loved, loved how Jane's relationship with Mr. Rochester developed. I loved their scenes together. I loved the dialogue. I loved how we really got to know both characters through the episodes. (It is over five hours long!) Everything that I loved about the book (almost everything) was present in this adaptation. It just felt right!!!

Do you have a favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre?


My original review.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

12 comments:

Olene Quinn 2:46 PM  

My favorite is the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson version. I know a lot of the fans of the novel didn't like the casting of Stephens in that version, but I thought he had the extra charisma needed to make an on-screen version work.

I was so excited about the 2011 version, then so disapointed. I am a big fan of Fassbender and was over the moon that he was going to play Rochester, but the script was such a let down.

Jenica704 4:33 PM  

I haven't seen any film adaptation of Jane Eyre. I am on a waiting list at the library for the 2011 adaptation, but I may get the BBC instead. Thanks for the recommendation!

Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction

CharmedLassie 4:45 PM  

They eliminated the gypsy scene?! That's put me right off buying the film on DVD. That's an excellent scene for so many reasons.

I'm also hoping to reread Jane Eyre shortly. It's been too long and I have a nice shiny copy I bought to replace my old rather eaten one.

Lorna 5:44 PM  

Although he's really too handsome for the part, Timothy Dalton IS Mr. Rochester. Accept no substitutes! :)

To be fair, though, the PBS adaptation that came out a few years ago wasn't bad. I could not even finish the new theatrical version. And for this diehard Jane Eyre fan, that says something.

Books In The Attic 7:34 PM  

I agree with you fully. My favorite adaptation is the BBC mini-series with Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. I actually saw this before I read the book and it was what inspired me to then read it. So for me, not only is Dalton a really good actor, he feels like Mr. Rochester to me. It remains one of my favorite books of all time.

Beckie B. 6:12 AM  

I really liked the Samantha Morton/Ciaran Hinds adaptation. It was done around the same time as P&P with Colin Firth.

bookwormans 6:48 AM  

If you are looking for a strictly accurate version of "Jane Eyre" and Mr. Rochester in particular, I would have to agree with the Timothy Dalton version. Quite a few of the lines in the script are taken directly from the book and he delivers them superbly. He also, IMO, reveals a lot of Rochester's passion and emotion that other versions tend to mellow out.

That being said, I am also a huge fan of the 2006 Wilson/Stephens version. While Toby Stephens may not be as ideal a Rochester as Dalton, the chemistry that he has with Ruth Wilson is phenomenal. Sparks fly in every single scene that they have together.

I was also disappointed in the recent adaptation. Though I think that both Fassbender and Wasikowska could have been good in their roles, the script just didn't allow for it. It spent so much time trying to cram all of that plot into 2 hours that it lost a lot of the depth and characterization (hence the loss of the wonderful "gypsy" scene). I sat through it wondering how someone who had never read the book could watch this and get what was going on.

melissa @ 1lbr 11:55 AM  

I've seen a lot of adaptations (though, not all of them since many mentioned in the comments are new to me), but I completely agree with your assessment of the 1980s BBC version. Dalton will always be Mr. Rochester in my opinion. He really made that role.

Kailana 8:30 PM  

As to rereading it is not so much that I don't see value in it, but more that I just never seem to make time for it...

Lisa 9:25 PM  

I saw the musical when I was in New York City a few years ago and loved it. I know it is not a movie but I liked that version. I also saw the recent film version and I liked it but thought they could have done it better. I have not seen the BBC version so I will have to check it out. Too bad there's not one with Laurence Olivier in it. I love him in Wuthering Heights.

thereadingpanda 12:37 AM  

I don't get to reread as often as I used to, but rereading a well loved book is like visiting an old friend. I will have to revisit Jane and check out the BBC version in the near future.

Deanna 11:44 PM  

I love, love, love Jane Eyre! It was the first grown-up book I ever read when I was 11 years old and I've re-read it many times since. My favorite Jane Eyre movie of all time has to be the 1943 one starring Orson Welles. They just don't make dramatic movies like that anymore! And little Margaret O'Brien - she is precious.

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