Thursday, August 4, 2011

To See or Not to See: Jane Eyre

Readers, I love Jane Eyre. It was required reading in one of my college English courses -- the first and only time I was ever required to read any Bronte (and I was never required to read any Austen either. In fact, I wasn't even required to read Rebecca, a book I snagged from my grandmother one summer and devoured poolside.)

You might be asking what I was required to read!? Trust me, there was plenty. Maybe just not the fun stuff.

Anyway, do to a pretty bad experience with most of the required reading throughout school, Eyre was one I was not looking forward to. I knew very little about the plot, but went at it full speed nonetheless. And as a college girl living alone, I found it to be a truly amazing book. It was creepy in all the right places, and romantic in all those right places, and Jane was a heroine I could really get behind.

By now, I've seen a few different adaptations of the book. When I saw that a new one was being released earlier this year, I jumped for joy. Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester, yum! Alas, it did not play in my area so my big screen Jane Eyre dreams were not to be.

So the buildup between then and now has been massive. Last night, I discovered that although the DVD/Blue Ray release is actually August 16, the movie is available OnDemand. Michael was not here, so I wouldn't have to worry about any comments on his part making fun of my much-anticipated viewing, so I decided to go for it. In the land of partial penny-pinching, OnDemand is a treat that we rarely allow ourselves. We pay for movie rentals and go to the movies a lot, so as one that I was pretty certain I would actually want to buy, spending the extra $6 to rent it on Pay Per View seemed a little irresponsible. But since I didn't get to spend my money at the theater and otherwise would have...

It was a good movie. For anyone who has not read Jane Eyre it's a good adaptation. For folks who love Jane Eyre for the love story, it's probably also a fair adaptation. My issue with it is not that it wasn't a good movie, but that (shoot me now, because I'm going to say it) the book was better. I know, I know! I love to see big screen adaptations. I do. The vision that carries over and how the director and the person writing the screenplay feel the story should be or could be best represented. I'm interested in all of that. It doesn't mean I always agree.

Two things about Jane Eyre in particular: while the film is lovely, the settings amazing, the production top-notch, some of the atmosphere is lost. I believe it's due to that vision I mentioned earlier. Eyre is a classic gothic tale, so that underlying sense of dread and fear is there in the book. Certain scenes are cut, probably for time, and it seems the focus became more seated in the love story itself than in that chilling and unsettling sense that I relished in reading the book so many years ago.

The second thing is Jane herself. Mia Wasikowska does an amazing job of portraying Jane. Jane is stone. On the outside Jane shows little emotion. It's one of the things that I think captivates Mr. Rochester so -- as it should be having a wife who shows too much emotion! But Jane struggles internally. She may not show her disappointment and angst over Rochester's games outwardly, but the reader knows it's there.

Overall, it was a satisfying two hours. I think it was a keeper (one I'll buy), but the book is staying firmly on the reread stack!

1 comment:

Vickie said...

Seemed like I saw a preview for a movie of another classic book today, but can't think which one.

I did see the preview for 'Three Musketeers' and it's looking quite steampunk. I look forward to seeing it.