Monday, July 20, 2015

"Jane Eyre" (2006)

This is the fourth adaptation of Jane Eyre I've ever seen.  Jane Eyre is my favorite novel, and if I'm not careful, soon I'm going to have seen as many versions of it as of Hamlet!

First and foremost, Ruth Wilson is probably my favorite Jane Eyre yet.  Yes, even trumping Zelah Clarke.  I sympathized with her, I identified with her, and I can think of no part of this miniseries where I felt like they'd strayed materially from the character as I know her.  (EDIT:  Except that bed scene -- can we all just pretend that didn't happen?  I'd kind of blocked it from my mind until Hannah reminded me of it in the comments.  Cuz that was NOT characteristic of Book Jane.)

Happily, Ruth Wilson is the reason I wanted to see this so much, since I really liked her in both The Lone Ranger (2013) and Saving Mr. Banks (2013).  I was not at all disappointed, and I do want to get this from the library again at some point and watch it again.

However, I was terribly disappointed by Toby Stephens' Mr. Rochester.  Not especially by Stephens himself, actually -- he was adequately Rochestery, broody and cranky and a little sly.  At one point I did start to imagine if they'd cast Paul Bettany instead, because oh my goodness, can you imagine Paul Bettany as Mr. Rochester?  I start to salivate just thinking of it.  However, my real problem with this Rochester was how he was written.  He was written as being very manipulative and pushy, and playing mind games just for the fun of seeing people squirm.

That is NOT Mr. Rochester.  Mr. Rochester can be manipulative, yes, in that he deliberately withheld the truth from Jane so she would marry him.  And he can be pushy, what with practically dragging Jane to the church.  He can play mind games too -- the whole Blanche Ingram fake engagement thing?  However, they took those elements and exaggerated them most unfairly, so that he felt like a big, self-serving meanie who only wanted to marry Jane for selfish, possessive reasons, not because he actually loved her or wanted her to be happy.  Even at the end, he was distasteful.  And whiny!

Mr. Rochester should not be whiny.

I mean, you know there's something wrong when I'm kinda rooting for St. John Rivers for a while.

Speaking of St. John (which, can we all agree it should be spelled Sinjin?), he's played by Andrew Buchan, and you know how I just watched Cranford and Return to Cranford a couple weeks ago?  When he appeared, my first thought was, "Oh, thank heaven!  Jem Hearne has found her.  Now she can go to Cranford and recover."  Which has actually given me the most delightful alternate universe to play in, since I didn't care for this Mr. Rochester anyway.

In my alternate universe crossover, Jem finds Jane and takes her back to Miss Matty's house (and since I'm making this up, Martha's still there too), and Miss Matty and the Hearnes take care of her.  When she's well, she gets to be the teacher at the new Cranford school opened with money from Harry Gregson.  There she lives quite merrily, making friends with all the equally strong-minded ladies of Cranford, and eventually falling in love again when she's in her 30s, with William Buxton's best friend, whom I have named George, and who happens to look like this:


Only possibly with shorter hair, and of course he would not generally walk around with his shirt collar open like that, only on very special occasions when he's been out helping in some manly endeavor, possibly mending fences because one of the servants is ill or something.  (It should probably involve a hammer, just to be funny.)

And so anyway, yeah... um, I think I liked this about as well as the 2011 on a whole, though I would like to see that one again to see if it's improved with time.  But it ain't no 1983.

EDIT:  I forgot to say whether I thought this was family friendly or not.  Other than a scene with Rochester and Jane lying fully clothed together on a bed and getting awfully friendly, which is very skippable (and SHOULD be skipped because it SHOULD NOT be happening -- that IS NOT in the book, folks, and would never happen because Jane is much too morally strong for such shenanigans), it doesn't have anything objectionable.  However, they Really Really Really play up the creepy, gothic vibe, and I think it would be too scary for preteens, and maybe even early teens.

37 comments:

  1. Yes, Ruth Wilson is a divine Jane Eyre. My absolute favorite, by far.

    I wish I could say that I've read the book and then we could discuss how accurate Toby's Mr. Rochester is to the novel. However, I'm confessing a deep sin in that I haven't read the book and therefore cannot claim accuracy one way or the other. Obviously that should be my next Classics Club read just so I can make an informed decision. I've held off reading it long enough.

    I love Toby Stephens' Mr. Rochester. I never thought I would ever imagine I would love him this much, but I do. Although yes, I can see Bettany in the role, very easily. He's such a delight! Still, Stephens is fun and, yes, manipulative, but like I said, I have no idea if he's supposed to be or not. All I know is that Stephens' Rochester got my blood racing for all the right reasons. Yum! The newer Jane Eyre felt very lackluster to me, so I prefer a Mr. Rochester with a bit more spunk and manipulation going on. Hmm, I wonder if that's healthy?

    Darn it, now you're making me want to watch it again! It's been quite a few years. Hmm, maybe I should save it until Charity comes out for a visit this weekend! That would be fun!

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    1. Read the book! I'm actually planning to host a read-along of it early next year.

      I can see how this Mr. Rochester could be very alluring -- he has a definite roguish charm, and sometimes I liked him so much. I can't really find fault with Toby Stephens' portrayal, as it feels very much like he's just acting what he's been given, which is an interpretation I disagree with.

      It would be very fun to watch together with someone!

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    2. I am not opposed to this plan, if we have time. ;)

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    3. Well, maybe I'll hold off reading it, then, until your read-along. It would be much more fun to read it with friends, I'm sure. And then I could tell how accurate any of the interpretations have been. I still even love Timothy Dalton's Rochester and his is quite obscure and, I'm afraid, a terrible quality 70s. Ooh, ghosting galore on my HD screen.

      Charity, well, mayhaps we will have time! Bring it with you when you come, just in case! Because I don't actually own it, my bad!

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    4. Thou has not read the book nor own the miniseries? Thou ought to be ashamed of thyself! LOL

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    5. Carissa, I would love to have you join the read-along!

      Timothy Dalton's Rochester is my absolute favorite. That is, you mean the one from 1983 with Zelah Clarke, yes? Or did he do one in the '70s too? The video quality is pretty bad, I think because it was shot on videotape, no film, though I don't have an HD screen, so I just see the candles trailing themselves around all the time and that weird depth-perception difference that comes from video tape. WHY does the BBC shoot on video so often? I suppose it's cheaper. Anyway, Dalton's 1983 is the first one I ever saw -- we got it from the library right after I'd read the book for the first time when I was like 16, and I was agog and how well it all meshed with my reading of the book. I got it on VHS for Christmas that year, and have since replaced that copy with DVD because I kinda wore it out...

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  2. This is probably the only, more current adaptation of Jane Eyre I've yet to see. I've seen the Timothy Dalton 80s version, the more recent with Michael Fassbender, the one with Samantha Morton as well as the Miramax adaptation. I always did like the 80s version, but judging only by cinematic "prettiness," I love the most recent big-screen version (2011). (Haven't ever read the book.) From all that I read, it seems like most fans prefer this adaptation. At some point, I will watch it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hamlette - my curiosity is renewed! :)

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    1. Rissi -- I need to try the 2011 again because I only saw it once. I was disappointed by the chopped-off ending, and it was the first time I watched any version other than the Timothy Dalton one, so I think now that I've seen a couple more, I might appreciate the Fassbender more.

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  3. There are so many versions of Jane Eyre out there isn't there? I think I've seen three -- this one, the latest one and one other that I'm not sure of when it was made. This one I think is my favorite. Though this one's Mr Rochester isn't my favorite, I definitely agree with that! Paul Bettany as Rochester is a VERY interesting idea. Oh my.

    I like your crossover idea! I would totally watch that. :D

    I need to read the book, then rewatch all the adaptations so I can make a final judgment on which is my favorite.

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    1. Sarah -- there really are quite a few. I still haven't seen the William Hurt or the Orson Welles or the George C. Scott (which I hear is awful) or the '70s BBC version, and imdb.com lists a BUNCH more that I've never heard of too.

      Read the book! I'm hosting a read-along of it early next year, if you want to wait that long and join in. Otherwise, read it any time cuz it's delightful.

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  4. Haha. I haven't seen this version, but I was just talking about it with someone and telling them how Mr. Rochester was played by Tobey Maguire...um, no! So it's Tobey Stephens. I had the first name right. ;-/

    Paul Bettany as Mr. Rochester!!!! Wowzers. I've always thought Richard Armitage would make a great Rochester...but then he's already done John Thornton, so it might be a little too much for him to be both.

    Hahahaha. I love your story about Jane going to Cranford! Someone seriously should do that.

    ~Emma

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    1. Emma -- Do Not Feel Bad! I'm completely sure that I commented on someone's blog the other day and called him Toby Keith. Who, I believe, is a country singer.

      Richard Armitage would make a SUPERB Rochester, and I've had that very thought myself. I mean, I don't want to be greedy... but he should quick play Rochester right now.

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    2. Hahahaha, I like Toby Keith. :-)

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  5. As you'll already know this isn't one of my favourite 'Jane Eyre' adaptations either. I was expecting a lot from this version because I adored Sandy Welch's adaptation of 'North and South' so much but in the end this one just didn't deliver. I liked the production values and Ruth Wilson's Jane very much (even though she's clearly older and taller than Book Jane is) but it still didn't really capture the book for me. I found Toby Stephens' Rochester to be quite immature and almost childish at times and I absolutely *despise* that scene in it where Rochester and Jane are both in bed together. It's completely against Book Jane's principles and it was such a cheap and low attempt to try to add some sexual tension to the story. And what was the point in changing the gypsy scene so that Rochester hires a gypsy woman instead of dressing up as one?! That's such a funny scene in the book and I got really excited when I thought that it was coming up!

    I do like your crossover idea! Don't you think that Chris Hemsworth could make a great St John Rivers as well though? He looks exactly right for the part, he'd just need to cut his hair!

    Ooh, Paul Bettany as Rochester.. I'm not going to lie but I can't really imagine it. A great actor of course but I just can't picture him as Rochester. Hmm... One actor that I think could make an amazing Rochester is Mads Mikkelsen although he'd need to lose his Danish accent.

    Hehehehe! All this talk about potential Rochester is making me remember something funny. When I was back at university I had a seminar teacher who insisted that Jack Nicholson would have made an ideal Rochester in his younger years as he was (her words not mine) "sexy without actually being physically attractive". Jack Nicholson's always given me the creeps though so I had to repress a shudder!

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    1. Hannah -- actually, I thought Ruth Wilson really brought out Jane's youngness very well. But maybe because I'm used to her somewhat older?

      I had completely blocked that bed scene out of my mind until you mentioned it. YES! UGH! I went back and edited my post to mention it because... it's so unwarranted, out of character, dreadful. What even! Jane is supposed to lock herself up until she's fainting with hunger, not canoodle.

      And hiring a gypsy was pretty lame. Maybe Toby Stephens refused to wear drag?

      But I think Chris Hemsworth would make a terrible St. John Rivers because who could ever find it reasonable that Jane would not be attracted to him?

      And you can have your Mads Mikkelsen, I will take Paul Bettany.

      Jack Nicholson, though? Um, even young Jack? Too freaky.

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  6. ... ah well, different strokes for different folks. This Rochester is my favorite, out of all the versions I've seen (... which is, all of them? I think?). This was the first (and only) adaptation where I even start to see what Jane sees in him.

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    1. That's a pretty good way of putting it, although I still love Timothy Dalton as Rochester. He's so very roguish and charming, all at the same time. I wish they could remaster his version!

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    2. I think my least-favorite Rochester is Cirian Hinds. I can't fathom what anyone would see in him, with all his stomping and shouting.

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    3. (I, with my tendency to like fictional Angry Men, didn't mind Ciaran Hinds' interpretation. His "I'm still ME!" really resonated with me.)

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  7. Oh! I'm so happy you've seen and like this version! It's my favorite, personally:D

    Ruth Wilson is great, yes;)

    Hmm. Personally, I like Toby Stephens' Rochester, but you're right--he can be pushy and whiny sometimes. And there were certainly times when I think, "Da heck??" I mean...some of the scenes were just weird. And I definitely like Michael Fassbender's performance in the scene after Jane finds out better than Toby Stephens'. But overall, I have to say that I do like TS's version:)

    Heehee, this St. John (and YES, it should be spelled Sinjin!) was definitely more likeable than others I've seen:D

    Great review, Hamlette!


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    1. Olivia -- I can see why it would be a favorite for many people. It's beautifully filmed, and Ruth Wilson is awesome. Toby Stephens is very impassioned too, but he just hit wrong notes for me.

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  8. I love your crossover idea!!! That's so cute!!!
    I do that myself sometimes . . . do you know, I actually ship Fanny Price with Steve Rogers? I know that sounds crazy, but I really think they would get along great together . . . he could protect her, and she could be sweet to him and cheer him up after losing Peggy. (I personally do not care very much for Edmund Bertram and that's why I do this :) )

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    1. Jessica -- hee, thanks. Fanny and Steve, huh? I don't care for Edmund either, but I also don't care much for Fanny. However, Steve could do worse!

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    2. Oooooooohhhhhh Hamlette, I LOVE Fanny Price. Because she reminds me of me, you see. Her struggles about not being able to speak up for herself, and all that. I can be very timid and anxious, too :) But I'm not AS timid as Fanny because, you see, I've been raised in a very kind and encouraging family. If I'd been raised by folks like Sir Thomas and Aunt Norris, I think I'd have even less self-esteem and assertiveness than Fanny does :)

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    3. Well, I love Anne Elliot because she reminds me of me, so I get that :-)

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    4. Right! And I remember you saying you like Jo March because she reminds her of you . . . whereas I've always had trouble liking her because she's so DIFFERENT. So I get that, too :)

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    5. Yup. Actually, I can see a lot of myself in Fanny Price too -- quiet, contemplative, keeps her own counsel, ends up not participating in things her friends do because she disapproves... but there are too many times in the novel when I want to just poke her into action. I am not nearly so meek, I guess.

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  9. Great review and I like the new header! (I know it's not super new, but -- as heretofore mentioned -- I've been falling behind on my communications. Sigh.)

    Anyhow. I've actually only ever seen the Zelah Clarke/Timothy Dalton version and I much enjoyed your review for this one. :) Also, I LOVE your continuation idea! I could totally see that working. And all that bit about fixing the fence, etc? Fantastic! ;D

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    1. Heidi -- thanks! I still think of the header as new, and am still in that phase of seeing it pop up and going, "Oh yeah! I have a new one!" and then gazing lovingly at it for a while...

      Doesn't Chris Hemsworth look like he would fit in so well in a period drama there? I'm getting so excited for his whaling survival adventure In the Heart of the Sea this winter.

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  10. Ooooh, forgot to mention that I do love the '80's version. :D Need to see it again sometime soon!!

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    1. The '80s version is still my favorite. I should watch it again before long too! Since I'm planning to host a read-along of Jane Eyre early next year, I'll probably watch it before that :-D

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  11. You're so funny! I almost spurted out my tea while reading your Cranford-Chris Hemsworth-Jane Eyre ideas!

    Anyway.. I've always loved this version of Jane Eyre for the simple fact that it was a mini-series and thus had more time to develop the story and the characters as opposed to the movie versions which often rush through any of the non-Thornfield parts. But I can totally see what you mean about not liking this version's Rochester. I was really impressed by the 2011 Rochester as played by Michael Fassbender.

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    1. Lol! Glad I amused you, Birdie. Oddly enough, I've been known to make my best friend literally spit tea out on her computer by making her laugh unexpectedly, so perhaps this is my secret superpower?

      Yes, mini-series are the best because they can delve into the characters and the whole story. The 2011 is really rushed, especially the ending. This one does lots of great development of characters and plot, and that pleased me very much.

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    2. Well, look at this timely article at The Silver Petticoat:http://www.silverpetticoatreview.com/2015/07/30/which-version-is-better-jane-eyre-film-edition/

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    3. Interesting! Thanks for sharing, Birdie. I haven't seen the 1996 yet, but I'm sure I will sooner or later :-)

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  12. This is my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre, even though the recent film version is beautiful (but I wouldn't have liked it if I hadn't read the novel first-I had to mentally fill in a lot of gaps) and I liked the Timothy Dalton miniseries, too. The only version I despised was the Orson Welles one, although I really did not like the William Hurt version either.

    The only thing I didn't care for in this version is that awful bed scene, as you discussed! Ugh, so very un-Jane like.

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    1. I agree, Maggie -- the 2011 had the same problem as the Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion -- if you don't know the story, you get lost.

      I haven't seen the Orson Welles or the William Hurt yet, but I would like to see them both just to see if I dislike them or not.

      The bed scene needs to be expunged, that's all there is to it.

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Agree or disagree? That is the question...

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