Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jane Eyre: The Movies (Part 2)

Last week I posted my reviews for every Jane Eyre adaptation available to me. As promised, here is the follow-up post, which will hopefully be a little less scholarly, and more fun.  

My recommendations
My movie recommendations depends on who you are and how acquainted you are already with the story.

If you do not know the story at all, I would suggest watching the 1983 mini-series so you can know the complete story, and then the version from 1996 and/or 2011. If you dislike older, slow-moving movies, or you already know the story, skip my first recommendation.
Now, here’s the deal about the ones from…
1996: It’s a fairly good representation of Jane and the acting is good; there is an enjoyable feeling throughout, and just something unaccountable that makes me like it a lot even though the story is much shortened and strays from the storyline too much. Enjoy it, but don’t trust it.
2011: This one is too short as well, but overall I like the actors better, and it does maintain the novel’s storyline. Things such as hair color are observed correctly, and it got some elements and details the others are without (missed a lot too, but…). It’s rated PG-13, pretty much for a painting of a nude woman which Jane sees and later inspects (don’t ask me why). These parts taken away, and I think it would be PG. I’ve heard it’s an old-fashioned, realistic looking painting, and might actually have gotten away with PG in some other film. I can’t tell you first-hand because I fast-forwarded it. If you wish to do that too, I can tell you exactly where if you like.
This version could be confusing because it starts in the climax area and then is comprised of flashbacks.

So, just consult your own taste from my reports and choose accordingly. One more thing – if you watch the one from 2011, definitely watch the deleted scenes called “Badminton in the Garden” and “Bertha Rips Veil in Jane’s Room.” These are rather important to the story and in my opinion should not have been left out. Some of the other deleted scenes were strange, though.

The bottom line is: if the story sounds of interest to you, be sure to read the book. Nothing can tell you the story like it can!!
Watching a movie first could be a good thing or a bad thing depending. It’s better to read it first I’m sure; I didn't, but I knew I’d want to read it when I watched it. For others it might just give a wrong impression of the characters, however.

My favorite
I really cannot decide. There are good and bad points to all the ones I like. The three mentioned above are my top favorites, of course. Maybe my favorite is the 2011 version (un-PG13ed, that is). While it was much too short to be quite satisfactory, it was really a beautiful film and, for the most part, not inaccurate to the novel. Jane wasn’t tall or too old (yay!), Blanche Ingram had dark hair (yay!) and Mr. Rochester was definitely not repulsive. *Spoilers* The main thing I disliked was the Rivers not being related to Jane. To me, that’s a very important part of the story, and shows us more of her character by how she reacts. At least she got her fortune, though. *Un-Spoilers* It did get the part with St. John, Diana, and Mary a lot closer than several others (and most of the main versions).
I’ve only seen it once, though, so this may not yet be enough to proclaim it as my favorite.

And here we have Melody the Trailer Fanatic giving you one for each of her top 3:

Which is your favorite? I’m very interested to see the results of this poll.

Which is your favorite version of Jane Eyre?
2011 2006 1997 1996 1983 1973 1970 1943 1934 free polls 

Other favorites
Just for fun….

Favorite Jane
This is sort of a tie between Charlotte Gainsbourg (1996) and Mia Wasikowska (2011). C.G. is rather too tall and her hair is darker, I think, than Jane’s was supposed to be; but she did have rather ‘irregular features’ – interesting looks, which at the same time did not at all displease me…not really un-pretty. I liked her acting pretty well too, even though I think she should have been a little more passionate a few times.
M.W. was a good enough actress, although she didn’t say things the way I imagined Jane to; she just wasn’t quite Jane. (But then, who can be, but Jane in the book?) By the way, does anybody know what sort of accent she had? It wasn’t the same as people, and the Jane Eyres, usually have on these films – to me it actually sounded closer to lower-class characters – and it bugged me a bit. She was a little too serious, but then most of the movies portray her that way. She is in the book, too, part of the time; but not for all of it. She definitely has a sense of humor, and can say funny, witty things. (Right, Miss Dashwood? haha)

I guess if the tie-breaker is height and hair color, M.W. gets the award. (She’s short by today’s standards I think, but still not short enough in comparison to her Rochester’s height.)

Favorite Mr. Rochester
You cannot know Mr. Rochester at all until you read the book, and even then he takes some deciphering.

I’m not satisfied with any of them, but that’s hardly surprising, is it? That seems to be my answer to everything.

Toby Stephens (2006) might fit the book’s description of Mr. Rochester the best, but for me, there is something wanting. There’s something about his portrayal that I don’t like, and I can’t put my finger on it, especially since I haven’t seen the whole thing.

Okay, down to business. I’ve been delaying my answer: I really do have a favorite this time, and that’s Michael Fassbender (2011). He’s not, in my opinion, un-handsome enough to be accurate, but you know, I prefer that to the other way around. (tehe) I thought his rants when he first came back to Thornfield – banging on the piano, going outside and shooting the air – were a bit strange and nothing like that occurred in the book, but that’s not the actor’s fault.
He was just more likable than others. When they make Rochester dislikable, it’s harder to sympathize with Jane, and half the impact of the story is gone.
He still wasn’t right, but you know.
As always with this version, the character was underdeveloped; there wasn’t enough conversation to know him well enough, etc.

Favorite Mrs. Fairfax
Joan Plowright, 1996. This is probably the easiest one to answer. I thought she was spot-on.
When I first heard Judi Dench was Mrs. Fairfax in the new adaptation, I thought it sounded like a really good fit. Actually seeing her in that role didn’t quite rise to my expectations. She wasn’t cheery enough or…something. Maybe Miss Dashwood is right – she’s just Miss Matty, and there’s an end to it. ;-)

Favorite Adèle
Some people might not consider Adèle an important character, but after all, she’s the whole reason Jane went to Thornfield.

The Adèles aren’t very easily compared, but my favorite is probably Josèphine Serre from 1996. I’m not sure why, but I just remember her the most, and I liked her pretty well. She was too old for the part in real life, though.

St. John Rivers, 1996
Favorite St. John Rivers
St. John (Or “Sinjon/Sintjon” as they say it) is actually a fairly major character when it gets to that part of the book. In most of the movies, that part is way condensed.

My favorite as far as accuracy goes is Andrew Bicknell from 1983, and he was pretty good. Otherwise, though, I liked Samuel West from 1996.

Recognizable actors from all versions
Here’s a list of actors I recognized from each version, and the parts they played in other movies (mostly what I’ve seen).

Colin Clive (Mr. Rochester) – “Henry” Frankenstein, Frankenstein (1931)

George C. Scott (Mr. Rochester) – Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (1984)
Susannah York (Jane Eyre) – Mrs. Cratchit, A Christmas Carol (1984)

Tracey Childs (Georgiana Reed) – Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility 1981; Suzanne, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Amanda Root (Miss Temple) – Anne Elliot, Persuasion (1995); Mrs. Davilow, Daniel Deronda* (2002)
Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Reed) – Mrs. Croft, Persuasion (1995)
Samuel West (St. John Rivers) – Mr. William Elliot, Persuasion (1995)
Joan Plowright (Mrs. Fairfax) – Martha Sourby, Return to the Secret Garden

Samantha Morton (Jane Eyre) – Harriet Smith, Emma (1996, A&E)
Ciaran Hinds (Rochester) – Captain Wentworth, Persuasion (1995); Michael Henchard, The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003); Lord Tarleton, Amazing Grace
Deborah Findlay (Mrs. Reed) – Miss Phoebe, Wives and Daughters (1999); Miss Tomkinson, Cranford (2007) and Return to Cranford (2009)
Gemma Jones (Mrs. Fairfax) – Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Rupert Penry-Jones (St. John Rivers) – Captain Wentworth, Persuasion (1995)
Elizabeth Garvie (Diana Rivers) – Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1980)
Peter Wight (Clergyman) – Mr. Wilfer, Our Mutual Friend* (1998); Mr. Gardiner, Pride and Prejudice* (2005)

Christina Cole (Blanche Ingram) – Mrs. Augusta Elton, Emma (2009); Nora Rowly, He Knew He Was Right; Caroline Bingley, Lost in Austen**
Francesca Annis (Lady Ingram) – Mrs. Gibson, Wives and Daughters (1999); Lady Ludlow, Cranford (2007) and Return to Cranford (2009)
Pam Ferris (Grace Poole) – Mrs. General, Little Dorrit* (2008); Mrs. Boffin, Our Mutual Friend* (1998)
Andrew Buchan (St. John Rivers) – Jem Hearne, Cranford and Return to Cranford (2007, ’09)
Georgia King (Rosamond Oliver) – Pet Meagles/Gowan, Little Dorrit* (2008)
Charity Wakefield (Miss Temple) – Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility (2008)

Jamie Bell (St. John Rivers) – Smike, Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Judi Dench (Mrs. Fairfax) – Matilda (“Miss Matty”) Jenkyns, Cranford and Return to Cranford (2007, ’09); Lady Catherine De Bourg, Pride and Prejudice* (2005)
Sally Hawkins (Mrs. Reed) – Anne Elliot, Persuasion (2007)

*I may not have seen this (or all of it) therefore I can’t recommend it as a whole; OR could mean I know there’s something in it which I found objectionable. I either recognized the actor from what I did see, or I heard about them being on it, etc.
**I would definitely not recommend this if I had seen it, which I have not.

So, which Jane Eyre movie(s) is (are) your favorite(s)? (Don't forget to vote on the poll!) Favorite portrayals of the main characters? I love to read your comments. =)


Miss Dashwood said...

So here I go, commenting through the post.
I think I may take your recommendation and watch JE '96. The only reason I shied away from 2011 was its rating--but if the painting is the only objectionable thing, that's easily fast-forwarded. Is it really scary, though? The trailer looks a little frightening. I can be kinda squeamish when it comes to movies. :P
I've already read the book, so no fear of confusion. Please, people, READ BOOKS BEFORE YOU WATCH MOVIES.
I wonder if maybe the Rivers' relationship to Jane was taken out because they thought it was too weird that Jane considered marrying her cousin? Personally I think that's weird, but in 1840's England it was pretty common.
I always think of Jane as dark-haired, but I don't think there's actually anything in the text that says she is. Oh, and yeah, she has a sense of humor. I stand corrected. :)
Looking at pictures of Toby Stephens and Michael Fassbender, I'd have to say that TS fits my mental image of Rochester. MF seems too young. Wasn't Rochester about forty?
"Banging the piano, going outside and shooting the air"--not quite sure why, but this made me laugh out loud!
Miss Phoebe plays Mrs. Reed in '97???? *shrieks with laughter* Wow. I really can't picture her in that role. She's too... Miss-Phoebe-ish.
Melody!! You haven't seen Little Dorrit? Shame, shame! There are one or two scenes that need to be fast-forwarded (one of them a murder, but you see almost nothing) but the good FAR outweighs the bad in that movie. Get thee to the library, my dear, and watch LD as soon as possible.
Oh, and I'm not going to bother apologizing for my long comment, it just takes up more space. ;)

Julia said...

Hi Melody!

I have awarded you on my blog (Julia's Journal) because I just love your blogging! :D

I don't know if you accept blog awards and such, but there you go, just in case. :)


Melody said...

Miss Dashwood,
No, I didn't think it was 'scary'. The trailer made it look more that way than it actually is. ;-) Drama, you know. ha ha
The only other part was where Mason was wounded, which I didn't really mention because it's not really worse than many of the other ones. They show the wound closer up for a few seconds, whereupon I just looked away. ;-)
But don't worry, they didn't turn it into a horror movie. It isn't any more scary than the book. ha ha

I think the reason they left that out was just for sake of time. As I said, too short. :P
Yeah, I used to think that was weird, and I still think it was weird if you've know the person for a long time (like a relation); but since I started reading literature it doesn't bug me as much any more. Especially in cases like these, where she didn't even know he was her cousin till later, and didn't even meet him until she was almost 19!
It's just St. John in general that bugs me. :P

Mr. Rochester says Jane has "hazel hair and hazel eyes". Jane there tells the reader that her eyes are in fact green, but she doesn't correct the hair. I looked up the word 'hazel' and it's supposed to mean a sort of light brown, like a hazel nut. ;-)

Yes, MF is too young, I forgot to mention that. Only a couple years though, and usually they're too old. Again, I prefer it to be the more complimentary way. ;-)
He's supposed to be "near forty" and about 20 years older than her, so probably 37-39, I'd say. The actor was 35, but then when Jane first saw him, it said he looked about 35. ;-)
44 seems to be the age a lot of them were, for some reason. ha

Yeah, she was too Miss Phoebe-ish when she played it, too. :P One fun thing about the 1997 version is all the actors to recognize. =)

Oh! No, my dear, I HAVE seen Little Dorrit! It would be quite shocking if I had not! Oh, no! Several times too! haha I guess my '*' note did make it seem like that, but maybe you didn't read the part that said "it could also mean I know there's something in it which I found objectionable". As you said, not much (and I've actually always fast-forwarded them, so I don't exactly know what they are, except the murder; I had to be told that. or it wouldn't make sense. ha)
Anyways, if you click on 'Little Dorrit' there it will go to my review and you can read all about what I think. ;-)

I like long comments. =)

LitLover said...

Just answering your question about Mia's accent. England is just like America in the sense that it has very different dialects that vary depending on region. Most Americans are acquainted with the stereotypical "dainty" accent typical to London and a lot of southern districts of England. The northern accent is the one used by Mia Wasikowska and is, in fact, more true to the novel. Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre in a setting based on her native district of Yorkshire where the accent you question is common. If you like researching historical backgrounds, I would recommend you look into it. Lowood was actually based on Charlotte's school in Lancashire, the district west of Yorkshire. Some people debate that Millcote (the town outside of Thornfield) is based on Sheffield in Yorkshire.

LitLover said...

Oh, and just out of curiosity, is there a certain religion you follow that keeps you from watching PG-13 movies and things of that sort?

Jessica said...

I thought I recognized "Anne" from Persuasion, but forgot to confirm it later! Ha

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

It's odd that there's so many film adaptations and all of them seem to fail in one major point or another.
I'm becoming quite fond of the 2011 version myself, I've watched it three times since I got the DVD in August. I really like the Sinjon Rivers in that one but was also a bit disappointed that they didn't say he was her cousin too, but maybe they thought that in our modern age the thought of even distant cousins marrying is too strange. The 1996 version is still a favorite I haven't that or the 1983 version in a while though. I like your recommendations!

In the 2011 version it sounded like several of the actors tried to take on a slightly Yorkshire accent since that's the county where people think Thornfield is supposed to be. Mia's accent definitely had a touch of Yorkshire which as you say would be wrong because her parents and her uncle were upper class and Gateshead would have taught elocution and French so girls like Jane from good families wouldn't have had "country" accents like that.

Because I still can't decide if I like Mr. Rochester or not it's hard to decide which version I like best. There is something wanting in even the best portrayals, I think.

Joan Plowright was excellent in the role of Mr. Fairfax, I think she's my favorite too! I like the 1996 Adele too, she's sweeter and more interesting than the other Adeles.

Perhaps one reason why I've come to like Sinjon Rivers quite a bit is because there are so many interesting actors who have portrayed the character. Samuel West is a favorite of mine so I do like his Sinjon but think he's almost too likable. I don't remember the 1983 Sinjon, hmm...

Oooh! On a side note, I bought A Christmas Carol (1984) the other night and look forward to watching it with my family soon, but they might make me wait until December at least! :( Can't wait to see George C. Scott as Scrooge!

I think I voted for the 1996 version because I like the actors in the roles better than any of the other versions. It even has my favorite Bertha in it, ha ha!

I do need to read the book again to get the true story and characters fixed in my mind. I really enjoyed this series of posts! :)

Melody said...

Yes, I had noticed about different accents from different places, and that's what I was thinking. Though the book never actually says where it takes place; even if Charlotte Bronte said somewhere that that's what she was basing it on, she must have written the book so people could place it where they would like in their heads. ;-)

To answer your question, I'm a Christian. Now that means different things depending on who you're talking to, so I'll be more specific; I believe what the Bible says: that Jesus died for our sins and if we ask for forgiveness and accept him into our lives (which I have) we will go to Heaven.
However, my "religion" isn't really what 'keeps me' from watching certain things, etc. I belong to the Lord and want to please him in all that I do. Everyone has different standards, but movies with content over PG are usually something I know I shouldn't be watching and would not help me in my relationship with Him.

Melody said...

Miss Laurie,
Well, even if that's true, I still think they shouldn't have left it out. It's a major part of the story. >.<

About the accents - that's just what I was thinking.

Haha, St. John...Samuel West's was a little too likable. But at least he wasn't really cheerful like Rupert Penry-Jones in the 1997 version! ha!

Oh THERE'S the comment! I knew you said it somewhere. ;-) I hope you enjoy that version. We watch it every year on Christmas Eve. Well, we always watch some Christmas Carol on C-mas Eve, but it's usually that version because it's our favorite.
Around our house Christmas starts officially the day after Thanksgiving, which is when we set everything up. Although if it snows, we start listening to Christmas music early! It snowed on the 18th wasn't for very long, didn't stick much and melted when it stopped, but while it lasted it was so beautiful. The flakes were really really big!! And I was going to a harvest party that night, ha!

I can't remember that Bertha off the top of my head. I watched them all so close together...*phew*

I was going to be posting today...something about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (fancy that?) but, it's not happening. I've been too busy to write it.

Well, this comment was too long...I probably should have emailed you...

Marie said...

Well, I have only seen the 2011 version and the version with George C. Scott. The latter I did not care for much, as both Jane and Mr. Rochester were much too old. The 2011 version I liked very much, though, and I'd be curious to see other versions. Oh,and I've heard that Jane in the 2011 version plays Alice in the new Alice in Wonderland(which I would not want to see). I can quite see her as being an Alice.

Hamlette said...

I've just discovered your blog and absolutely love these reviews of yours! It looks like almost everything I would say has already been said in the comments, except for one thing.

I think the reason that Jane inspects the painting (which I also thought was a weird addition, especially since they spent time on it that could have been used elsewhere) is that she's curious. Clearly, she knows the facts of life, but she has had practically no contact with any men, definitely not with any she might be attracted to, and now here she is in the house of this exceedingly male man, she's feeling all these new things, and there's this picture. She's got to be wondering what it's supposed to mean, why it's there (as are we), what it might be able to tell her about this household.

So, uh, I think it's supposed to illustrate her awakening and curiosity about the bodily side of relationships. (Can I say that more delicately?)

And so, in sum, it's totally skippable. Watch without those couple of scenes, they're really not important.

Okay, off to read another post or two of yours quick before supper.

Melody said...

Goodness, I never answered your comment here! Well, in case you see this--I know, the one with George C. Scott was AWFUL. Ugh. I could barely make it through. ;) I'd recommend the 1983 one as the next you should see, if you haven't already done so...

Welcome! I love getting comments from new followers. :D :D
Well, considering that the painting was just of a woman (I think?) I find it odd that anything else could be found out from the painting that she didn't already know, ha ha ha. (And it was unrealistic too, I have heard.) But anyways... icky. :P
Having never seen the part I guess I don't have a very informed point of view, but my best guess was that she was looking at it for its artistic value (if indeed it had any :P) seeing as she was an artist. (The book did say she looked at some pictures in the halls, but I really doubt that was what Charlotte Bronte had in mind.)
I just wish they would not have done that. How annoying.

Hamlette said...

I only saw this once, about 2 years ago, so I can't recall for sure, but I think the woman depicted was considerably more voluptuous and womanly than Jane. So the impression I got was more like a preteen looking at a National Geographic about indigenous people and going, "Oh, wow, I look nothing like that yet." Mixed perhaps with a little worry about the fact that, well, Rochester is probably used to more womanly women.

But the inclusion of that painting is the whole reason I don't own a copy of that version. So unnecessary.

Melody said...

Haha, well, according to a sister of mine she wasn't... ;) But like I said I never did see it myself. And as to worrying, it was early on in the movie and she'd barely even talked to Mr. Rochester very much at that point.
Yeah, that's why I wouldn't want to own it too... I just don't like the idea of having something in my possession that has something in it I don't approve of watching. ;)

Hamlette said...

I actually miss VHS for this reason -- if I really liked a movie except for one scene that was not essential to the plot, I could buy a copy and just record over that scene. Now I don't have that option with DVDs, so until we decide to invest in a ClearPlay machine, I'm stuck.

Unknown said...

Hello Melody,
What parts in the 2011 adaptation is there a nude painting?It would be nice to know when to skip it.Tis irritating they add that in. Not only is it superfluous, but it is unrealistic. 1840 England is a very modest society. Sweet little Jane would have blushed to behold it. She wouldn't have inspected it.

Would you rather hear the story...

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