Jane Eyre Is Back On Those Moors

Mia Wasikowska is Jane in the film directed by Cary Fukunaga

The director of the new movie version of Jane Eyre that opens this week says there was an unwritten law requiring that it be remade every five years. There are a bunch of them. Of all those 19th-century literature class novels, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has been the most filmed. (Pride and Prejudice is a rather distant second.)

I saw the George C. Scott and Susannah York version on TV when I was in high school (do the math) but (according to The NY Times, there have been "at least 18 film versions, going back to a 1910 silent movie, and 9 made-for-television “Janes” — so many that they sometimes seem to quote from one another as much as from the novel."

Dark, damp old stone homes, lousy boarding schools, orphans, pompous upper class men, the moors, accidents, forbidden love and unrequited love and marriages that are mostly bad. Why is this stuff so popular?

It's not really much of a spoiler to say that burning bed chamber and all, Jane will marry Rochester whether or not he is as damaged (horse fall, lost eye and hand) in the film as in the book.

I haven't seen most of the versions including a 1996 Franco Zeffirelli version with William Hurt as Rochester or the film of  Wide Sargasso Sea, based on the Jean Rhys novel that told the story from the point of view of mad Bertha who is locked in the attic.

The new director, Fukunaga, is only known to me for Sin Nombre. That was a well-reviewed film about a Honduran teenager trying to reunite with her father on a journey to Mexico that she hopes will lead her to America. The director says that he sees Jane as being "like Gossip Girl, and Charlotte and Emily were like Goth twins. It’s a totally different sensibility. The emotional world that Charlotte inhabited is much darker and more dangerous.”

So, is Jane's story Gothic horror and also early chick-lit?

Playing Jane this time is Mia Wasikowska who I saw last year in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland as Alice and in The Kids Are All Right as the daughter, Joni.

The only film version of the novel I really can recall is the one that Fukunaga apparently also recalls. It's the Robert Stevenson 1943 gloriously black-and-white version.

It's pretty faithful to the novel, if you're trying to use it to get out of a reading assignment, and very "literary" with a screenplay partly written by Aldous Huxley.

It was made in a time when Hollywood was mining the classics for scripts that had "class" and included the lots of book quotes in voice-over. I watched it because I was an Orson Welles fan more than a fan of the book. He is a very moody, brooding and method Rochester.

"It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."   - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

More about the new version at ‘Jane Eyre’ - Cary Fukunaga Revises a Classic -

No comments:

Post a Comment