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Jane Eyre Movie: Kimberly and Stephanie’s wild adventure

Kimberly: March 11, 2011

Kimberly Wilder at Jane Eyre premier

I love the book Jane Eyre! I love studying various movie and mini-series of Jane Eyre.

So, I just had to find a way tonight to go the premiere of the new Jane Eyre movie, directed by Cary Fukunaga, with Mia Wasikowska. It is only at select theaters this week. Well, my friend Stephanie and I ended up taking the Long Island Railroad into the city, and went to The Landmark Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan. The movie was wonderful, and we had a great time. (More photos of me and Stephanie at the theater: here.)

The show we picked started at 7pm. At about 6:40, an announcement said that Jane Eyre was sold out.

The Landmark Theater is very warm and interesting. There is a cafe type section. And, for this event, they had one of Jane Eyre’s gray dresses displayed in a glass case (I am guessing it was from the authentic wardrobe). Also, some free movie posters were stacked near the dress case.

There is a video review by Kimberly and Stephanie at youtube: here

Some observations and comments on the 2011 Jane Eyre movie:

1. The movie was overall very good. The audience applauded at the end (I love when that happens at movies).

2. The movie was definitely different from those versions that have come before. It was very visual. Very dreamy. And, you could feel an artsy-ness to Fukunaga’s style that added emotional resonance, and gave it its own, unique, reality.

(Warning! Definite plot spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read the book, and want to be surprised at the movie, save this for later!)

3. As Stephanie pointed out to me, the big difference in this movie was that it came from Jane’s personal perspective. So, scenes which other writers or directors have featured were left off. No Rochester as Gypsy. No long wallow in Rochester’s happiness at the end of the movie. Stephanie explained that it was like being inside Jane’s mind.  Stephanie felt like Mia Wasikowska truly brought to life the fact that Jane genuinely had all these complicated and passionate feelings, but they were controlled and hidden.

4. The movie opens at a different place in time than the book. And, the movie goes back and forth between Jane’s childhood and a more grown-up Jane. I think this serves the purpose well of truly making the audience connect with how Jane’s childhood informed Jane’s adulthood.

5. I felt like this story was enlightening about recovering from abuse. It showed the abuse of Jane and the children at Lowood School more starkly than some other versions. And, with very moody music, and with scenes of gradual healing, it seemed to almost tell a story of someone recovering from post traumatic stress disorder.

6. While other movie versions seem like “The Adventures of Jane Eyre” or “The Love Story of Jane Eyre and Mr. Edward Rochester”, this story was like a character sketch of Jane Eyre. And, it succeeded in creating a believable and poignant picture of a woman in struggle. It was interesting that the writer had Jane tell Rochester that one of her decisions was based on “self respect”. In the book, Rochester alludes to not having meant to diminish Jane’s “self-respect”, and Jane only refers to respect for herself in an inner dialogue. By having Jane speak this truth out loud, and making similar issues more blunt and clear, this movie changed the story from the enigma of old literature, to a living breathing story. And, it did so in a good way, a way that might capture the imagination of young people.

7. There was some good chemistry between Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Like some critics, I don’t think the kissing was always so steamy. Though, right after the first kissing scene, when they run back inside from the rain, you feel chemistry in their frolicking and hand-holding. And, the “after the wedding scene” is full of the passion and angst of true love.

8. I heard one critic say that Michael Fassbender did not rise to the role of Rochester. I think that this movie was so focused on Jane, that Rochester was structurally more in the background. (And, I, personally don’t like versions, such as the Orson Welles version, where Rochester becomes the focus). Though, there were some emotional highlights that Fassbender embodied, which I have not seen portrayed so well before. One example was the youthful glee that Rochester carries with him as he sets Jane up for the proposal.

9. With Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, you have to give the housekeeper a more juicy role. And, this movie did. And, Judi Dench was excellent. The writer took liberties with her character in a way that added to the story, and added to the sense of sisterhood which is such a valued part of the retelling of this story.

10. It was interesting to me that some parts of this movie made the movie audience laugh out loud. An example of an interesting laugh-motivator, was the audience laughing out loud at Jamie Bell’s character, St. John Rivers. In most movie versions, and I think in the book, there seems to be something more dark about St. John’s hypocrisy. Though, the writer, director, and actor in this 2011 version were able to capture some of the irony and amusement, which I think were genuinely some part of author Charlotte Bronte’s observations.

-Kimberly

My video tribute to Jane Eyre, the book:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKLRSykOaAM]

One Response

  1. This is a really thoughtful and balanced review. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! I went to a screening in Chicago and actually had a really similar response to yours, it seems like. I’d love to hear what you think of my own review.

    http://list-and-whisper.blogspot.com/2011/03/jane-eyre-review.html

    I’m especially interested in your third point. That’s an interesting way to look at what the director chose to include and not include. I’m gonna have to mull that one over a bit. :)

    Always nice to find another Jane Eyre fan. :)

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