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Jane Eyre
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Monthly Reads > Jane Eyre - book and movies

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message 1: by Zeljka (last edited Sep 02, 2018 02:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
Even if you haven't read the novel, you are probably familiar with the story - an orphaned and bullied girl grows up to become at last a good governess to a child whose father is Mr Rochester, a broody wealthy man with not so a benign secret. Will love conquer it all? You probably know the answer. But were you really satisfied with it? I know I wasn't so sure when I read it the first time. Their relationship was a bit creepy, to say the least. Now I should read it again to disperse or confirm doubt.

There are. So. Many. Adaptations. Of this novel. Wikipedia lists at least twenty official adaptations! That's an insane amount of to-watch movies and series. Freely select only one or two of them, especially if you've seen some of them on other occasions. I'll just note some of them:

Jane Eyre (1934) - the first sound adaptation. Reviews aren't glowing, the resemblance to the source novel is minimal, yet it might be interesting to watch as a curiosity, especially as you can see it for free on Internet Archive
Jane Eyre (1943) - directed by Robert Stevenson. A screenplay by Aldous Huxley. Starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. What's not to like? If you can find it of course.
Jane Eyre (1950) - I picked this one only because Mr Rochester is one of the early roles of Charlton Heston. And yes, it is also available for free watching at Internet Archive
Jane Eyre (1970) - another one available for free at Internet Archive. This TV version of Jane Eyre includes George C. Scott and Susannah York in the main roles.
Jane Eyre (1983) - a BBC adaptation starring a James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and Zelah Clarke. It lasts for four hours. A bit too much.
Jane Eyre (1996) - a Franco Zeffirelli's take on Jane Eyre, starring William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anna Paquin, Geraldine Chaplin, Joan Plowright and many many other famous names.
Jane Eyre (1997) - a British answer to the worldwide epic made a year before, starring Ciarán Hinds and Samantha Morton.
Jane Eyre (2006) - BBC attacks again, this time with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens in another four hours long TV mini-series. This one actually comes with high recommendations.
Jane Eyre (2011) - this one you've probably seen in the cinema, starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell in the main roles.

Whichever you pick I hope you'll like your assignments :) Of course, do not forget to read the book first :) So you can tell us afterwards what did you like or dislike both in the book and in the adaptations you've chosen to watch.


message 2: by Mrs (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mrs Benyishai | 35 comments Am I missing something I didnt recieve any dicussion on tthis book maybe I have to punch a different key ?


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
Mrs wrote: "Am I missing something I didnt recieve any dicussion on tthis book maybe I have to punch a different key ?"

Hi Mrs, I mentioned we are reading this book in our newsletter for this month. However, there was not a reminder beforehand, because we voted for this book very late in August. Check your account settings just in case, maybe your notifications are switched off. Hope this helped! You still can read the book again :)


Jennifer Lafferty | 40 comments My favorite adaptations are the 1983 BBC mini series, which I actually saw years ago before I even read the book for the first time, and the 1943 adaptation which I saw again recently. I've seen other Jane Eyre pics but these two are far and above the best; and even though they are very different, equally good. However, I do think Timothy Dalton makes a better Rochester, a role that he seemed to be born for.


message 5: by Mrs (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mrs Benyishai | 35 comments How long is the 1943 adaption I cant see short ones as they stray too far from the book I wonder hoew they financed a good film during the war.


message 6: by Mrs (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mrs Benyishai | 35 comments As for the book I have read it many times the language is fantastic and descriptions of people and places beautiful of course the story is classic my only problems ara Rochesters wicked behaviour to both Jane andBVlanch in playing with their feelings. also thge way we sort of feel sad at the the failure of the false wedding service which means rooting for an immoral event (and hate Mr Mason who did the right thing) but of course without all this there would be no story thing Bronte was rather ahead of her times in terms of class distinction a book and bbc film (1983) to read again every few years as one changes in understanding
there is akways something new to take away


Jennifer Lafferty | 40 comments Mrs wrote: "How long is the 1943 adaption I cant see short ones as they stray too far from the book I wonder hoew they financed a good film during the war."

It's 1 hour 37 minutes. This adaptation is good considering how much had to be left out, but if you want a thorough adaptation of the novel it's worth watching the 1983 mini series.


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
Last week I finished the audiobook and the e-book simultaneously, that is, after listening to a chapter I continued to read it on the phone, just in case if I missed some nuances. Wow. What a language. What a magnificent character study.

I still have a difficulty with liking the character of Mr. Rochester. His manners were so bully-like, and what he did to his wife was unpardonable, especially because she was mentally ill. Mr. Rochester was prone to passionate speeches and odd disguises (remember the gypsy episode?). He was at times scarily violent in his speeches - it wasn't hard to wonder what would have happened once his passion subsided. Jane loved him, it's no use to complain. Besides, his misfortune later in the story tamed a bit his impulsive nature. In contrast with St. John (was this name really common in those days?), Mr. Rochester was an angel. From one bully Jane got into the arms of another. Tell me about choosing a lesser evil...

The first time I read this book, I couldn't get over the shocking Mr. Rochester secret and his manners, and I deeply disliked Jane's readiness to forgive. Now, even though I still do not like the very same thing, I am more understanding. Humans are fallible beings and we need to be able to forgive (not to forget) in order to live our lives without remorse and bitterness in our hearts. Jane forgave everyone who did wrong to her. It was easier to do so because they got punished for their deeds. (I think this has something with Victorian sense of divine justice. Maybe I am wrong.)

Now I simply enjoyed the language and the richness of characters the book offers through the narrating voice of Jane Eyre. We have four main locations in Jane's life - Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield and Moor House. Each made a deep impact on Jane's life, each in different ways. In Lowood Jane found in her teacher and her friend a mother and sibling figure she didn't have in Gateshead. In Thornfield Jane came to see what her desires are, for love and independence, fully realized in Moor House, in a way that she knew exactly what love is and what it means to be independent. She gave three quarters of her newly gained wealth to her newly gained family, because she didn't need more. She needed only as much as necessary to not be dependent on someone's mercy. She didn't want to marry St. John because that would be an abomination of her views of love. And it really sounded so!

The only thing that was a bit ridiculous were their dialogues. It was so obvious while I was listening to the audiobook. No one talks like that, in such a flowery and eloquent manner. I can't recall if that aspect of novel was retained in the film adaptations. In the book, it was fine, I could get over it, but how one does talk like that in a real life?

Now onto the film adaptations! I plan to watch every that I can find, first those free ones in the Internet Archive and so on. That might take a couple of months :)


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
There is a splendid study guide here if you would like to write something about the book but feel a bit uninspired at the moment: Course Hero: Jane Eyre Discussion Guide

I discovered it only now, in a vain effort to see if I missed something what I wanted to say. Well, I did miss almost everything :) Please, check it - if you would like to go over some points, I'd like to join the discussion too :)


message 10: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I love Jane Eyre! I have read it at least 3 times and every time I get more.

I have a seen a few dramatizations of it, but not the most recent one. My favorite was the miniseries broadcast on PBS in 2006 with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

Has anyone read the prequel: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys?


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
Kirsten wrote: "Has anyone read the prequel: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys?"

Oh I haven't read it. I would like to though. There was a movie too, that I wanted to see, but not before reading the book :)


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
Let me summarize the adaptations I watched in the last month or so. I wanted to watch the "oldies" first before going to the TV and later adaptations.

Jane Eyre (1934) - Jane was not as I would imagine her. A haughty, dressing lavishly and not plain and humble at all. Mr Rochester was quite meek and well, normal. Not mysterious and gloomy at all. It was all very dull.

Jane Eyre (1943) - this cast was so impressive. Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O'Brien, Orson Welles. Still, I am so sorry I must say, the movie was so boring. If I haven't seen any other Jane Eyre movie, I would say it's the fault of the book that lingers more on Jane's reminiscences than on the narrative itself, but no, this movie simply was not that good. The film scenery was beautiful, every scene was top notch, so perfect, but the play didn't work. Welles is a perfect bully, but too young and handsome. Fontaine was too meek, like a puppy, with no will of her own. That kind of is a recipe for domestic abuse, not for a romance you would expect to see.

Jane Eyre (1949) - this movie plays out like a stage play, and a good one. Great camera moves made for awesomely freaky scenes from the window above. (That made me wonder who the director was - well, of course it was a renowned name - Schaffner, who directed Papillon and Patton). Charlton Heston was impressive Mr. Rochester, but still didn't look the part. The only thing that was odd was why Mr Rochester would marry such an old lady, despite of her being so wealthy. This adaptation is interesting to watch as a curiosity. It is only 40min long.

Jane Eyre (1970) - even though I didn't like Susannah York much, she's way too beautiful to be considered plain, this adaptation was actually very good and quite faithful to the book. George C. Scott was the best Mr Rochester of all I've seen so far. His looks were even like those of the character in the book. Dialogues between Mr Rochester and Jane were witty, much more in tune with the book. Music pieces were amazing. (Had to look up who wrote them - of course, the one and only John Williams.) I highly recommend watching this movie. The only negative was the one-sided Lowood part, and that the quality of the video on the Internet Archive was hideous.


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
I watched Jane Eyre from 1983. Episodes were all 30min long, so with careful time management it was feasible to watch it in few days. I must say I agree with Jennifer above, it is an amazing adaptation. Very thorough and quite faithful. You really should check it!

Yesterday I read something about its production, and one quote from Zelah Clarke stuck with me:

Jane Eyre is the ultimate poisoned chalice. Everyone remembers the Rochesters; nobody remembers the Janes.
(from: Actors on Playing Jane and Rochester)

That's quite harsh thing to say... Is it true though? What do you think?


message 14: by Zeljka (last edited Feb 25, 2021 10:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
I watched few days ago the 1996 version of Jane Eyre (I told you this will take me an year or more, for watching all of them). This adaptation disappointed me so much. There was no chemistry between Jane and Mr Rochester, and the St John segment was totally botched. Mr Rochester was witty but bland, Jane intriguing but monotonous with face expressions blank. Not to mention she was the worst governess in the history of the moviemaking. Just take a look at this chalkboard:
(view spoiler)

She praised her student's knowledge of mathematics without even bothering to correct her!


message 15: by Zeljka (last edited Feb 22, 2021 11:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
However, this was not why I made that post above (well, partly). I wanted to ask something - has it ever occured to you that Bertha wasn't really mad per se, but that she was not so inhibited as English customs with women required? You know, that Mr Rochester wanted a tame and mute English beauty who would just admire her master and be generally quiet?

Was that extrapolated in the book by Jean Rhys? I haven't read it, but it seems so. I am asking this, because in this movie Bertha was more visible, played well by Maria Schneider, and her performance didn't seem so much about madness. She appeared miserably distraught by her powerlessness and forced imprisonment. I mean, they just assumed she was insane. Was she actually furious because of loss of her freedom she had in her home country? England as the rest of "civilized" world of that time wasn't quite fond of progressive women.


message 16: by Blueberry (new) - added it

Blueberry (blueberry1) | 158 comments I have thought the same.


Zeljka (ztook) | 2988 comments Mod
At last I finished the marathon of Jane Eyre movies - it took me, what, two years to do them all? I see that the last one I wrote about was 1996 movie. Here are the others in short:

Jane Eyre (1997) - Samantha Morton was a sweet Jane and Hinds was a very passionate Mr Rochester, one I could sympathize with. Script was very good, explained well both Rochester and Jane. However, I missed more exposition of Lowood and St John. But that kissing! So embarrassing. What did you think of it?

Jane Eyre (2006) - some might say this was quite faithful adaptation of the book, but for me it was too long and plain. I saw no chemistry between this Jane and Mr Rochester. It was a torture to watch in comparison with 1983 version which I loved.

Jane Eyre (2011) - this was, apart from the 1983 TV series, by far the best adaptation I've seen. There were flaws, true, like Adele's story wasn't explained (so Rochester may appear to non-initiated a mean father of an illegitimate child) and Blanche was no match to this Jane (her part was too short to even take a notice of her!). The ending was abrupt too, a bit of tease and dialogue from the book wouldn't have harmed to complete their reunion.

However, both leads were splendid and their chemistry was also visible. The story was abbreviated but told well, all beats were there, the atmosphere was right, intimate and intense. We saw from the beginning all the torments both were filled with, just like in the book. To me that was the most important, to understand both characters on their own, as much as their chemistry together. I could perfectly understand Rochester's position and his desires, as well as Jane's position and her own principles. That scene after the wedding showed so well what was so intriguing about their relationship. He wanted her so much yet respected her wishes because he could have violated her easily right there as her master and she would have been powerless. He treated her as his equal. She would never have forgiven herself though had she allowed herself to submit to his desire, to live with him as his mistress.


HR-ML (hr-movielover) | 16 comments I liked the George C Scott version . He was ill-tempered & looked
more like the description of the character.

The Timothy Dalton version, IMO, showed Rochester to be tender
& yet manipulative. I own both these versions.


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