Today I'll be sharing my thoughts on TWO adaptations of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, both adaptations are from the 1970s, but they are so DIFFERENT from one another. One I'd definitely recommend, the other, well, not so much.
What can I say about this adaptation of Jane Eyre? Susannah York did NOT make a convincing Jane Eyre. While this couple managed to still have a twelve year age difference, it wasn't because she was so young, quite the reverse. She was over thirty and trying to play a young woman of eighteen, nineteen, or twenty. It did NOT work well. In my opinion. She was not convincing in her role as a young, plain governess. And I had a hard time believing in the romance of this couple. George C. Scott, likewise, did not make a convincing Mr. Rochester. In fact, none of the actors--at least the human ones--were quite believable in their roles in this movie. (The horses and Pilot did okay for the most part.) Now, some did better than others. I won't lie. Not everyone was equally horrible. And part of the trouble could have been the script. (The Rivers family are not her cousins, she doesn't receive an inheritance, etc. Also the Reed family does not appear at all.)
I believe there are some issues with some DVD productions being extremely low quality--in terms of picture quality, sound quality, etc. And I do believe that played a role in why I found this one so painful to watch. But only partly. Because better sound quality wouldn't necessarily have made me appreciate the score to this film any better. I found it very intrusive. It just didn't feel like it was written for this movie.
Here's the 1983 one for comparison.)
Is this adaptation for every viewer? Probably not. It is just over four hours in length. For viewers unfamiliar with other BBC adaptations from the 1970s and 1980s, the production quality may seem low. It doesn't necessarily feel like a proper movie. It doesn't have this grand, sophisticated, polished feel to it. The sets, the scenery, the costumes, the landscapes, the filming isn't as grand. Don't be surprised to find reviews calling it boring and unwatchable. It's all a matter of taste and preference. For viewers who are READERS, for viewers who LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the novel, Jane Eyre. For viewers who passionately care for Bronte's novel and hold Bronte's words in high esteem, it doesn't really get any better than this. (Same with the 1983.) I read a review of the 2011 movie that said it [the 2011 movie] was better because it didn't try to read the book to viewers. And it made me smile a little. It's all a matter of taste. Faithfulness--particularly faithfulness in dialogue between Jane and Edward--is SO VERY VERY VERY important to me. And this one has it, for the most part.
I will say that this adaptation was heavy in narration. And that sometimes the narration was intrusive. The narrator stating what was so clearly obvious to one and all. In a few scenes, this bothered me a lot. I kept thinking it would be near-perfect if the narrator would quiet down and let me watch in peace. But. For the most part. I did like this adaptation.
This adaptation got many things right. I loved the romance of this one. They make a very good couple. And while this Jane smiled a little too much, I loved the twinkle in Rochesters eyes.
First Conversation, part one, part two
Second Conversation, part one, part two
Guests at Thornfield
Conversation After The Proposal (Next Day)
Mr. Rochester as Gypsy
Meeting Mr. Rochester
After the Big Reveal
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews