A few years ago, shortly after we moved here to Connecticut, I was home — alone, because I had no friends (yet) — Amanda was at school, and Kyle was still an oft-napping newborn. That means I had a LOT of free time on my hands.
It was this combination of factors that led me to watch Jane Eyre one afternoon on television. I had never read Jane Eyre, so I’m not sure that I was drawn in by the story in particular. It started and ended while Kyle was napping and Amanda was at school, so that was probably all the incentive I needed to tune in — that and William Hurt (it was the 1996 theatrical release).
I don’t remember much about it, except that it was enjoyable enough to hold my interest, and gave me a good overview of the story. However, thinking back now (and looking at some movie stills and even clips on You Tube), Hurt is much too handsome to be Rochester. I can’t make many other comparisons, since I saw it so long before reading the book.
My second Jane Eyre movie experience came a few months ago. I won one of those The Romance Collection DVD sets from A&E that were being given away on several blogs. Again, because of convenience — I popped in Jane Eyre one day (it was only one disc, while most of the others were two, including the wonderful Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice!).
This is the 1997 A&E version starring Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds. I have to say that they both play their roles quite well. Morton is calm and reserved, yet her eye twinkles and her mouth often bears a smirk or a quiet smile. Hinds is an excellent Rochester.
I also like the dog better in this movie.
One obvious plot difference in both movies is that Rochester seems to actually like Adele in the movies. Perhaps I just misinterpreted the book’s intent on this particular theme, and if so, enlighten me, but in the book he comes across much more as simply doing his duty, with no warmth at all towards her.
Just as with Lauren’s experience with some of the Austen movies and books, I found that the book was easier to digest since I had seen the movie. I also managed to follow my own book/movie rule of having six months lapse in between reading and viewing.
Another interesting observation is that I don’t actually remember liking the A&E version that I watched over the spring. I remember thinking that the one that I had seen years ago was better, but then after reading the book, I watched parts of the movie again, and realized how true and delightful it was, so I think it would be my preference of the two.
Fortunately neither movie devotes a 1/3 of the time to the orphanage and her early life as the book does, so if some of you were Jane Eyre drop-outs, you might plan to watch one of the faithful movie adaptations (although I do think that the A&E version spent more time here, perhaps one reason I didn’t like it as well?).
I came across mentions or reviews of some other versions as I was visiting the participants from the Classics Bookclub: Becky at Becky’s Book Reviews loved a 2006 version, and several people mentioned the one with Timothy Dalton.
Are there other good (or bad) versions of Jane Eyre that you’ve seen? Do you have a favorite scene or character from the movies?