Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who Adapted it Best?..Jane Eyre

         Hi blog! Long time no see! I appologize profusely for my lack of activity these past two months! "Uni" has been so terribly busy, I have spent all my free time doing my homework and had no time to blog. I read somewhere recently that inactivity is basically the kiss of death for a blog, and it was just the kick in the pants motivation I needed to get back to writing.

          I've been planning this new segment on my blog for awhile now, and finally here it is:

          I've wanted to review some of my favourite period dramas for a long time, but there are so many of them, and what do you do about multiple adaptations. So this segment is where I review two adaptations of the same thing and figure out (in my opinion) which was done better. Pretty neat huh? Period dramas, and Leah's opinion about things! It's like a dream come true!!! Anyway I thought I would start with Jane Eyre. There have been so many adaptations of this amazing book, but I'm going to focus on the most recent two; the 2006 BBC dramatisation starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens, and the 2011 film starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.

         When it came to 2011 film, I had very low expectations. I'll let you know straight off that I adored the BBC version. To me it was completely untouchable. Also I'm not Wasikowska's biggest fan ( I never thought Alice a bland character until Waikowska took it on), and I was skeptical about her filling the role of such an emotionally complex heroine. I also felt her too pretty for the part of plain Jane.

           I ended up being blown away by this version to be honest. Director Cary Fukunaga did an amazing job keeping the story fresh while at the same time remaining true to the book. The movie is breathtakingly stunning. I watched this with two other girls, and I think every ten minutes we were commenting on how beautiful the cinematography was. 

          As for the cast; they were brilliant! I was shocked to discover that Mia Wasikowska can act! She was fantastic as Jane. She captured the bubbling, suppressed emotion, and the quiet, yet fierce will and independence from beginning to end. She was Jane. She was especially good in the parting scene (which is probably the best version I've seen), you really felt the inner struggle between her feelings and principles. When it came to Mr Rochester, it was Fassbender who ended up being too good looking for his part!! This guy practically oozed charisma throughout the film! Still, he ended up being a fine Mr Rochester.  

         The supporting cast was left with little to do, but they served their purpose. Sally Hawkins, who I'm usually a fan of, is a rather lazy Mrs Reed. Judi Dench is a little too good for the amount of screen time given to Mrs. Fairfax, and brings a little more depth and emotion to role. Jamie Bell was really good as Saint John Rivers, but we saw too little of him. The gothic element of the story could have been explored more than it was; the film was definitely not as dark as the trailer suggested. The chemistry between the two leads was a bit weak, and the ending was a little too abrupt for my liking. Keep in mind that this is a film so there are elements and characters (Grace Poole is absent from the story) which have been left out of the narrative due to time constraints. Over all though, I was pleasantly surprised at how good this version was it's one I would recommend to all literature and period drama lovers.

           Now to the BBC version! Can I say enough good things about this one?! I doubt it! Toby Stevens has been pretty much unsurpassed as Mr. Rochester. He is dark, he is broody, he is secretive, and yet charming and charismatic. Ruth Wilson is plain, passionate, witty and intelligent. This version has the gothic element down, and all the characters are intact. This adaptation also has the one thing that is sorely lacking from the film; chemistry. The two leads are made for each other, and you feel that with every look, every touch, and every word. The soundtrack is beautiful and eerie; why oh why was it never released?! But that's a rant for another day!  The cinematography is not as striking as the 2011 version, and Mrs Fairfax and Saint John Rivers are not as good. However, the characters in this adaptation, especially the leads are much better developed, and the narrative is more faithful to it's source material. This version was readily accepted as the king of all Jane Eyre adaptations that come before it, and the title was definitely deserved. 

           So which version will take the prize? The film with the more artistic beauty or the one with all the chemistry. I was surprised at how much I had to think about it. They were both brilliant versions that are worth seeing, but there can only be one winner. And the winner is.......

The BBC 2006 Version!!!!
I loved this version from the first time I ever saw it. It is true to the novel in both narrative and character, the acting unsurpassed, the gothic themes fully explored. It is truly the best version to date. Having said that, I would enjoy seeing either of these two versions, and would recommend seeing both.

        Can I just say that Jane Eyre is probably one of my favourite novels! I remember reading it for the first time while spending Christmas with my grandparents in Canada. I was so engrossed in it that as soon as we were finished opening presents,  I literally ran back to the book to find out what happened next. All Christmas my Nanny was constantly asking me what was happening to poor Jane. It was the last Christmas we spent with either of them, and Jane Eyre is one of the things that brings me back to that time. Isn't it great how good books become such an intricate part of our lives?!

        PS: I would love to hear back from my followers. Which one of these versions is your favourite? What was your favourite part of the book? 


  1. Hey, Leah! So glad you are back. =)

    Oooh! I LOVED the 2011 version of "Jane Eyre," something that surprised me greatly. It was pretty to look at and despite my skepticism, I actually liked Mia as Jane. (Totally agree with you about Mia as Alice - YIKES!) To be fair, I've not read the novel, so I am just going by which movie adaptation I prefer. Haven't seen the BBC miniseries yet, but since everyone who's opinion I trust says it's good, I am probably going to get it over Christmas.

  2. Yay, you're back!

    I haven't seen the 2006, but the 2011 definitely wrecked me in a good, dark sort of way. The ending was a little too abrupt, but the scenery was breathtaking.

    Keep in mind, I had no idea what Jane Eyre was about when I saw this. I guess I shall need to read the novel and watch the BBC adaptation! :)

  3. Hey there!
    I just found your blog, and I love it!
    I followed you :)
    Check out my blog, It’s a Love Story and follow me! Please :)

  4. Rissi: I am so happy to be back! Thanks for commenting! If you have the chance you must see the BBC. It's amazing!

    A girl with a smile: I wish I knew your name so I could call you by it! I am so happy you want to read the book. To me that's the whole point in adaptation; turning one back tot he source material!!

    Rebekah: Thanks for following and of course I'll follow back! You have such a cute blog!

  5. First of all, I'm convinced I was born in the wrong era too! I've always wanted to visit Ireland, and I LOVE classic lit!!! People always think my love for period dramas is weird. I could wait to see the new Jane Eyre! I loved that it was fresh, but you really can't top the BBC version. They do so well with their films. Anyway, I look forward to hearing more from you!

  6. Oh oh oh can I weigh in, too, pretty please?! OMG...we could be like, twins. Because I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said about both versions. Totally weird. hahaha... Loved the new one for the freshness of the take on the whole book, course lacked in length as it was way too short and everything else you said. BBC version is my all time favorite :)) Everyone must see that one. And Toby Stephens is my all time favorite Rochester of all versions ranging through the 90's too (although Fassbender is pretty darn hot hot). Good post!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...