Without further ado, here's Traxy's Quick Newbie Guide to Jane Eyre:
A while back, I got the following question:
I feel like looking up some adaptation of Jane Eyre, because I’m starting to become quite curious, but which one would you recommend? :)An offer I couldn’t refuse! Here is a collection of the Jane Eyre adaptations that have been made so far (okay, technically, there are a few more, but they’re either in foreign and/or really difficult to get a hold of), and that I have ogled with badly hidden enthusiasm:
The Quick Newbie Guide to Jane Eyre Adaptations
So bad and so far from the movie that it’s funny. Fortunately, it’s only an hour long, so the suffering’s cut short.
1944 (film: Fontaine/Welles)
Very gothic and surprisingly good, even if it’s a bit too short and changes things around in very strange ways. Orson Welles, yay.
1970 (film: York/Scott)
No. Scrooge as Rochester is just plain wrong. As are the clothes and the setting.
1973 (miniseries, 5 one-hour parts: Cusack/Jayston)
Has strange voiceovers to distract (and Jane looks constantly surprised), but is very close to the book in a lot of ways – including the way characters make gestures!
1983 (miniseries, 11 half-hour parts: Clarke/Dalton)
Also very close to the book and has possibly slightly higher production value than ’73. Dalton actually looks a lot like the Rochester of the book as well. One of the adaptations favoured by book enthusiasts.
1996 (film: Gainsbourg/Hurt)
Dwells on Jane’s time at Lowood more than other adaptations do, and does it well. It’s the only adaptation that’s actually brought tears to my eyes! It’s actually a really good film, but it’s very emotionally restrained, which can be really frustrating to watch. Hurt doesn’t fit Rochester by any stretch of the imagination, and Elle MacPherson as Blanche is so wooden that you could use her for firewood.
1997 (film: Morton/Hinds)
If you overlook the moustache and the bulky trousers and that Rochester is way too angry/shouty, it’s good and has some funny lines. You never quite forget that you’re watching actors at work, though, but it does contain a scene which had me properly squeeing.
2006 (miniseries, 4 one-hour parts: Wilson/Stevens)
Follows the book in a good way, even if it’s perhaps more true to the spirit of it rather than the actual details. The stars understand the characters and it doesn’t feel as if they’re acting them as much as they ARE the characters - especially Rochester. It might be adapted for a modern audience, but not in a bad way (aside from a few scenes that just feel wrong), and it’s a clear favourite with many fans - myself included.
2011 (film: Wasikowska/Fassbender)
We’ll have to wait and see! Depending on where you are in the world, you might have seen it already. Us Europeans have to wait until September (or even later) before it comes out here. Boo! Meanwhile, I think you should read Ruth’s review. (Ruth here: Thanks for the shout-out!)
As a good first introduction to Jane Eyre, I would probably recommend the miniseries from 2006, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. It has the more important parts without feeling tedious or dull, which at times sadly both ‘73 and ‘83 do.
It has a beautiful soundtrack and feels nicely atmospheric. All in all, it made me feel that wow, this is a book I’d like to read! I had started to read the book before I first saw this adaptation in 2008, but I had put it aside and left Jane at Lowood because I found it a bit dull. Then I saw the ‘06 adaptation and all of a sudden, the book was a lot more interesting! (Dear Charlotte has a few issues getting to the point.)
The filming locations - I’ve been to some of them, squee! - are well chosen, costumes are nice and feel right, and even if Rochester’s hair doesn’t seem to adhere to any laws of gravity familiar the rest of us, you can’t deny the fact that men look great in cravats, coats and tight breeches!
Traxy, thanks again for joining in the All Things Jane celebration! I haven't seen the 1934 film or either of the 1970s versions - I have to confess I'm intrigued! :)