Thursday, May 11

Jane Eyre is everywhere!

Did you know that no fewer than eighteen movie versions of Jane Eyre have been produced? According to IMDB, the first five were silent. A 1934 version saw Jane as a platinum blond, and in 1944 Joan Fontain and Orson Welles took on the roles of Jane and Mr. Rochester. Not much information is available about the 50's and 60's versions, but in 1970, George C. Scott played Rochester. This was followed by a BBC production in 1973.

Now, rumors abound on the discussion boards at Pemberley that this was the best version of all. However, no one seems to have actually seen it. It seems pretty sketchy to me to pin all our hopes on a BBC video from the 70's, but it has recently become available on DVD for the first time. So we shall see.

I have seen the 3 most recent versions: Franco Zeffirelli directed Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt in 1996, and A&E produced a version the next year. Last night after the storm (there's nothing like ominous weather for a Bronte story) we watched the BBC's 1983 production. At first I thought "Oh, no. Four hours of atrocious sound quality and lighting design from The Young and The Restless." But Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke both delivered fine performances, and Jane Eyre is such an amazing story that I got caught up in it. At 4 hours, much of the dialogue is kept from the book, which makes me happy. Only occasionally did we say things like (as Jane and St. John walk by a stream), "Oh, no! We're not going to be able to hear them over the waterfall!"

Now I want to read the book again, and I'm looking forward to the new BBC adaptation currently in production. This one features Georgie Henley (Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) as young Jane. The press release mentions "the visionary John Eshton." Just who that is, I'm sure I don't know.

Out of 18 adaptations, none seems to have arisen as the accepted definitive version. All the ones I've seen have different strengths and weaknesses. Do you have a favorite? Can there be too much Jane Eyre? The senior boys who teased me when I read the novel for fun in 11th grade would say so. But they were idiots.

1 comment:

Miss Micah said...

Okay, two things.

First, I am pretty devoted to the Samantha Morton A&E version. I've always harbored a secret literary crush on Mr. Rochester, which concerns me a bit if I think about it for too long.

Second, if you can at all tolerate Broadway musicals, RUN, do not walk, and find Jane Eyre, the Musical." Fantastic music, and lyrics that are incredibly close to the book. Good stuff.