I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (3) - Jane Eyre 2011

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a great romance
Title: Jane Eyre
Adapted from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Just so you know, I did consider not blogging about Jane Eyre for this one since I talk about it so much, but when it comes to adaptations and great romances, I've seen so many adaptations of Jane Eyre that I just kept coming back to it.  My dilemma though is in picking one since there have been so many. Granted not all have been awesome...

Though I dearly love the 1973 miniseries with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, I think I'm going to go with the recent 2011 film for this post, which I also dearly love for different reasons.  The main reason being how it creatively interprets the source material to complement the aesthetic of a film but also maintains the spirit of the original novel.  So as an adaptation from a book to a film, I think it is extremely successful.

The first thing I really appreciate about this film is in the cohesion - there is a unified vision to the storytelling.  Although each part shines individually, no part outshines the other, as it all contributes to the whole.  I feel that the cinematography, the music, the directing, the acting, the script, and the lighting even, all come across as restrained but simmering, muted but emotional. There is such a vibrancy and realism to the storytelling. The look and feel of this film just brings the whole world of the novel to life for me.

Obviously I think the novel has a great romance - a romance built on thoughtful conversations and witty repartee, on character personalities that complement each other, and on the fact that Jane and Rochester just need each other on every level.  To get EVERYTHING across in a two hour film is impossible. Previous adaptations with those important (abridged) scenes where Jane and Rochester get to know each other come across as rushed or perfunctory sometimes, but the 2011 film has the tone of the scene in the dialogue and the actor's expressions and the atmosphere.  I watch and listen to the actors and I feel the emotion of the piece come across almost as I feel it from the novel.  And Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are fantastic at having their inner feelings subtly betrayed through their acting when they are not actually saying what they feel.  I find all the romances I really enjoy have that element of the main twosome not being able to reveal their feelings for each other for some time.  I just love that restraint and tension and I feel like that is wonderfully teased out in this film.  And to cap all that off, there is the farewell scene - (my favorite scene in the novel, where Jane and Rochester talk after the failed wedding) and this scene is accurately, beautifully, heart-breakingly portrayed in this film - definitely better done in this version than all the other film versions of Jane Eyre!  (And most miniseries!)

For a short trip through the great romance of Jane and Rochester this gorgeously rendered, nuanced, sensitive, and awesome adaptation of Jane Eyre is the one to watch! 

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  1. Yay! I am excited you picked the 2011 because you know how much I LOVE this version and just think it is marvelously acted, directed and filmed. It doesn't get nearly enough love IMHO.
    Jane and Rochester is the most amazing romance of all time! Great choice..and I hope it gets more people to see this wonderful film!

    1. Totally agree! I feel like this version will stand the test of time, and people will look back on it and really appreciate what a beautiful film it is.

  2. Yay! This is one of my favorite adaptations too! Mia Wasikowska is a well chosen Jane! For me too this was one of the films where they kept the whole idea of "Jane Eyre" the best. Most of the times they forget important elements that make the story what it is. Love your post about it :)

    1. Oh fantastic! I was so impressed with Mia, I'm glad you feel the same! And you are right, there is so much of the basic structure of Jane Eyre that they include in this version that makes it a better adaptation than other versions I think. Thank you for commenting!

  3. What I also liked (sorry, once I get started... :p) is the way they picture Mrs. Rochester! In most of the movies I've seen she's depicted as a kind of crazy witch. In this adaptation however I felt sympathy for her and I think that's just wat Brontë wanted us to feel in a way. There IS a reason why Mr. Rochester keeps his wife in his house and I think it's because he feels sorry for her too. He knows she can't help it and she isn't a wicked person, but a real human being of flesh and blood with mental problems. He knows she needs help and in this movie I felt the same way for his wife while other movies gave me the idea I needed to hate her.
    But that's just my opinion :p Hihi

    1. No worries! Love to read people's thoughts on the story and the adaptations! I totally agree with you on how they portrayed Mrs. Rochester in this adaptation- it's much more sympathetic and realistic. I know Charlotte described her as looking like an animal, but she was human and had a horrible condition. She doesn't have a great personality, lying and cheating before her madness came over, so I don't really subscribe to the "Wide Sargasso Sea" vision of Bertha and Rochester. But I did like that they dynamic between them seemed true and realistic in the 2011 movie.