Friday, March 2

The evolution of Jane Eyre

Another post about Jane Eyre! When the BBC's newest adaptation of Jane Eyre came on PBS last month I missed the first half, but my kind parents taped part two for me. I watched it last night. As with all the versions I've seen, there are things to like and dislike.

It got me thinking once again about all the different versions of this classic story. A YouTube search yielded the "after the fire" scenes from four of them. In 1944 Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles choose not to discuss the cause of the fire, but to talk about Adele instead. Despite Zelah Clarke's unfortunate bed cap and bad production values (turn your speakers down when the music swells then up again to hear the dialogue), the 1983 version with Timothy Dalton might be my overall favorite. In 1996 Charlotte Gainsbourg cuts her hands on thorns while saving William Hurt. In 2006 Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson emphasize the attraction between Rochester and Jane.

Now, dear reader, I will take you on a tour of the proposal scene throughout history.

A platinum blond Jane tries on earrings, and then Bertha walks downstairs and introduces herself.

This one’s not too shabby. The filmmakers got the line about the string joining them right, but lookout for that flash of lightning!

Charleton Heston as Rochester. Jane is pretty much a pansy.

Check out Mason’s smirk when he breaks up the proposal. And Bertha is chained to the bed!

The script here is closer to the book than in any other version I’ve seen.

Ouch! Some are put off by the violence of Ciaran Hinds’s affections and others are turned on. What say you?

I wish they’d filmed this at night, but otherwise it’s pretty good.

And that closes our tour of Jane Eyre through the years. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Gives one hope about the quality of modern filmmaking, doesn’t it?

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