Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jane Eyre - the new 2011 movie

Mia Wasikowska
I just arrived home from seeing the new Jane Eyre movie.

Michael Fassbender
The Good: The actress, Mia Wasikowska, physically is one of the best cast; she’s young, small and plain--not ugly, not too pretty but appropriately plain. The set design and scenery were fabulous. I particularly appreciate that they didn’t over-light the interior scenes. There was also a very good sense of time transition done through the changing of the seasons.

The Somewhat Less Good: The actor, Michael Fassbender, who plays Rochester did grow on my as the film progressed but he’s not my favorite. In all fairness, the development of his character was definitely hindered by the script.

The BAD!: The new movie was rather like watching a visual Cliff Notes, and sometimes, Cliff Notes that had someone unstapled, dropped on the ground and put back in the wrong order. To condense the story into two hours, huge bits were lift out which also left out the motivation behind much of the characters actions. Scenes where put in a different order from the book. And the ending…okay, I shan’t talk about it.

All that said, I didn’t hate it. See it in the theater for the visual impact of the scenery (the entire film was actually shot in England (Derbyshire, Oxfordshire, and ……) Judy Dench is always wonderful if underutilized in this. Otherwise, my recommendation would be to wait for the DVD.

One funny note:  In the Lady's room after the movie, several of us were comparing versions when one woman ask a question "Where was Heathcliff?"  After a small, stunned silence we explained that Heathcliff is from Wuthering Heights; a different Bronte sister's novel.  [sigh]

Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clark
Thinking back on the versions I have seen--most of them--my favorite for adherance to the book would be the version with Timothy Dalton.

Toby Stephens and Ruth  Wilson
For casting,

1st place:  Toby Stephens (left) as Rochester with Mia Wasikowska as best Jane.

2nd place:  Timothy Dalton (love the Welsh accent) and Ruth Wilson (who was Stephen's Jane at left).

Orson Welles

 3rd Place (or close 2nd):  Zelah Clark who played opposite Dalton although neither she nor Ruth Wilson didn't really look 19 years old.  Unfortunately, after Stephens and Dalton, I don't really have a 3rd place Rochester--maybe Orson Wells. 

So I want to know...have you seen the new Jane Eyre movie?  If so, tell me what you thought.   Which version is your favorite?  Who is your favorite Rochester?  Who is your favorite Jane Eyre?


  1. Well, finally read the book for the first time this year. 3/4 of a great book, leaping into the far-fetched and schematic when she leaves Rochester and meets her [spoilers] long-lost cousins in the middle of nowhere. I've seen the 40's Hollywood version, the 80's Hurt/Gainsbourg version, and the new one. Wasikowska was the best Jane, Orson Welles the best Rochester.

  2. I basically like Jane Eyre, though I prefer the versions that put less emphasis on her girlhood. I like the 1996 movie starring William Hurt, the 1983 miniseries starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clark, and the 1997 version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. I don't know which is my favorite of those, but I made a point of collecting all three of them -- plus the Orson Welles version.

  3. Isn't it funny how we end up collecting the different versions? A couple months ago, while I was trying to finish crocheting a blanket, I did a Jane Eyre movie marathon weekend. Then I really saw the difference between the versions. I've done the same thing with some of the Jane Austin movies, as well.

  4. I had no idea they'd made so many versions of Jane Eyre. I think I'll stick with the Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine version. I like the dramatic intensity of the black and white movies. Better still, I think I'd rather imagine the characters and the setting for myself and stick with the book. Of course, I'll have to see this new version now that you've told me about it. :)

  5. In looking on Wikipedia at, I discovered this is the sixth English film version, plus there are a number of television adaptations, four from the BBC including my favorites, a ballet, a graphic novel and musicals.

    A friend sent me the music files for the one done with Marla Schaffel as Jane and James Stacy Barbour as Mr. Rochester. It now has a permanent home in my car stereo.

    In other words, Windy, you have plenty from which to choose.

  6. I wasn't planning to see this one on the big screen until you recommended it. I loved the Timothy Dalton one an awful lot. I adore him. Sounds like fun to check out all of the versions some of you have mentioned.


  7. I've seen and own pretty much every Jane Eyre film and mini-series (from Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine to the latest film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender). For me, Mia Wasikowska is the most book-like Jane in appearance. Also felt that Mia evoked the repression of passionate feelings the best overall. Timothy Dalton was my favorite Rochester until I viewed the Toby Stephens' version. There's something about Toby's performance that better captures Rochester's mercurial character and his looks are rougher around the edges than Timothy which is more fitting to Rochester's image. Ruth Wilson, although an excellent actress, was distracting in the role as she's too tall to fit the book's description. This made some of the dialog that was retained from the book ludicrous. The passion between the two characters as portrayed by Ruth and Toby is palpable but given Jane's Christian ethics and standard of morality, I can't imagine her allowing Rochester to take such liberties with her person nor for Jane to be so overtly sexual in return. Regardless, it's the version I return to most often.

  8. Hi....Anonymous,

    I agree with you about Toby Stephens' making a better Rochester in terms of his looks. I also agree that I felt Jane's actions, in that version, were totally out of character with her. I also objected to the changes they made to the story. Chemistry-wise, it is really fun to watch. Story-wise, I'll stay with Dalton.

  9. Watching "Inspector Lewis: Generation of Vipers". Toby Lewis is in it; as in the Rochester of the rather sexy version of Jane Eyre.