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A Reader of Fictions: Books Made Into Movies: Jane Eyre (2011)

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Books Made Into Movies: Jane Eyre (2011)

Last night, I went to see the new Jane Eyre movie, because, even though the book isn't one of my favorites (and Mr. Rochester is one of the folks I would like to punch in the face), I love period pieces. My opinion of the film is somewhat mixed. Overall, I liked it, but I had some serious reservations about some of their decisions in how to cut down a very long novel into a two hour film.

This movie cover is so pretty!

Perhaps most glaringly, Jane spends approximately 10 minutes at Lowood School. She does meet Helen and experience her traumatic loss, but I don't know how much sense that would have made without being familiar with the book. The teacher who was so kind and influential is entirely missing from the film. The fact that Jane became a teacher is referenced only by the fact that the students said "Goodbye, Miss Eyre" as she departed for Thornfield.

Also missing from this new version are: Lowood school getting improved, Mrs. Poole (her love for booze is referenced but she never appears and neither does her creepy laughter) and Mr. Rochester's cross-dressing as a gypsy fortune teller. I particularly lament the loss of the latter. Now, they totally would have had more time for some of these missing plot elements had they not shown the scene where freaked-out Jane runs away from Thornfield TWICE. It is shown at the beginning of the film (and I was a little bit bored) and then it was shown again in context. Argh! Show a clip maybe to establish that this is where those scenes fit in the timeline, but trust the audience to remember what they saw but an hour ago!

Not being a Rochester fan, I have always been open to finding some goodness in St. John. So it's really no surprise that I really liked him (up to the point that the filmmakers remembered he had to be kind of awful and he decided to be a missionary). I do know that St. John in the novel was a cold jerk and do not think Jane should have chosen him (nor should she have chosen the film version that went crazy with missionary passion). Up to that point though, he was kind of funny and very supportive. And he looks like a younger Rochester. And he's not married. Win-Win-Win. Am I right? If they didn't want me to like St. John, maybe they shouldn't have chosen Jamie Bell.

Muttonchops can't stop my adorableness.

The movie did help me realize another reason why I do not ship Jane and Rochester (and why, I personally feel, the book would have been better if Jane ended up alone...by choice). What makes Jane a great character is her independent spirit, her strength and the power of her imagination. This is what Mr. Rochester values (at the same time as he tries to control her). Rochester commented at one point that Jane rarely smiled or laughed, and that when she did she would really be something. This is what makes me worry about their relationship: she never took (figurative) flight with him. He does not make her able to be openly herself, the willful spirit beneath the calm facade.

Even I almost think this is cute.

Still a pretty good adaptation and a beautiful movie. Plus, Rochester didn't creep me out like he usually does (which is probably points off on sticking to the novel, as Rochester is supposed to be physically imposing and dark, but is also a plus, because he seems less like a pedo). Jane Eyre fans should definitely check it out, as should fans of pretty cinematography and period pieces.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am fortunate to be married to a feminist with professional expertise in literature. Jane Eyre has always been one of her favorite novels. We have seen almost every film version, but I never quite got why this story was so meaningful to her. Until now. This version was wonderful--largely because of the actress who portrayed her. This film was truly from the perspective of Jane Eyre, and the character portrayal perfectly captured the balance of her spunky independence, integrity, and warm heart. I never wish to see another version: this is the definitive portrayal.

April 18, 2011 at 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great review! I've linked you in my own movie review. Feel free to check it out at:


December 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM  

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