Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jane Eyre on DVD (2011 Adaptation)

Just so you know, I have never read Jane Eyre. *Gasp* I know. How can I even call myself a book reviewer? Even my husband has read it. But I am not totally unfamiliar with the story. I did see the 1997 made-for-TV movie with Samantha Morton as Jane Eyre, and I must say, 2011's adaptation was more enjoyable for me, if "enjoyable" is the correct word to use in regards to such a depressing story!

I mean, seriously, why is this story so beloved? Don't get me wrong, I cried a bucketful myself watching this one. But Rochester is old (though not too old in this version), rude, cruel even to Jane at times, and deceitful. What is the appeal?

I'll try to answer my own question. He engages Jane's mind and lets her be herself in a world that has treated her very badly. He's passionate, and Jane's own natural passions have been beaten nearly out of her. He's mysterious, tall, dark, and handsome (at least in the 2011 movie version), which helps modern audiences fall in love with him, too. I don't know if he's good looking in the book, but he has tall, dark, and mysterious going for him for sure. He's essentially the stereotypical "bad boy," who gets his hooks into Jane's innocent spirit and then is somehow softened by her, though the opposite is likely to be true in the real world. For a girl, this kind of domineering, forceful man seems romantic. In the courting dance, where girls play hard to get, they want someone who will play harder to win them. I get that. But I don't think such a match turns out so happily in real life, and I think books like this encourage the belief that it does.

Perhaps I'll read the book one day and be just as enamored as the rest of its fans, but from somewhat of an outsider's viewpoint, this is a strange story, indeed.

Now, as I said before, I did enjoy the 2011 adaptation with Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre and Amelia Clarkson as a young Jane. It helped, too, that Michael Fassbender is a totally better looking, younger Rochester than Ciaran Hinds from the 1997 movie. I felt for Jane, loved her even. I was intrigued by Rochester, felt his magnetic pull on Jane working on me, too. I was thrilled when they finally got to kiss. (Though, is that in the book? I know Austen never had a kissing scene.) I cried when Rochester broke Jane's heart and when they were finally reunited. The story, undoubtedly, has an emotional appeal.

I give the book this praise because it's true, but also to appease those of my readers who might be tempted to assail me with cries of outrage. I don't want to offend, but I do seek to be honest. And stories are meant to be interpreted as the reader will. Some will resonate with Jane Eyre, and others, like me, may hold less favorable opinions. I still acknowledge that this is a classic piece of art, and this movie, in particular, was well done.

Four stars.

1 comment:

  1. I so want to see this movie! I don't quite know why I love it so much. I know I love Jane, and maybe that is why it's so loved. She is an amazing character. I've kind of always thought she could do better than Rochester, but that's just me.


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