Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thoughts about the Jane Eyre movie

Most anyone who knows me knows my abiding love of Jane Eyre. I didn't read it until I was an adult and it was one of those oh-my-gosh-how-is-this-book-from-the-nineteenth-century-so-engrossing-I-can't-put-it-down moments. After I read it I watched every single film adaptation of it ever, from the old black and white version to the really bad 80's mini-series version to the more recent awesome 2006 BBC adaptation. Then I heard they were making an actual feature film of it starring Mia Wasikowska. Awesome! Another romp through one of my favorite stories, another Rochester to fall in love with and a new Jane to admire!!

My gift to myself this week was taking a day off from school and stress and going to watch it since it FINALLY came to a theatre close by. And it was everything I hoped it would be... almost. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. I loved the passionate build up b/w Jane and Rochester, loved how they smoothed over some problematic story elements and used flash-backs to give the story more continuity, and I think Wasikowska has officially overtaken 2006 BBC's version of Jane as my favorite. But Rochester was... well, old. Not old, old--he was still strapping enough if not conventionally handsome and he had swoon-worthy hair and build, but in the first scene where they meet in Hay Lane, he just looked so much older than Jane. And then I started thinking about how really he is almost twice her age in the book too. There's this moment where Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax is talking to Jane and she expresses her concern that Jane is so young and simply hasn't seen much of the world, much less known anything of men... and I kind of agreed with her. I loved this Jane, Wasikowska brought so much life and passion to her, but in the end, for the first time ever in my love-affair with this story, I was left wondering: maybe Jane could have done better? I mean, Rochester gets the awesome end of this deal--super young and awesome Jane who still loves him in spite of, well, EVERYTHING. But what about Jane? What about her unsatiated wanderlust, her wild imagination, her untamed spirit? She's attached herself so young to a much older man, a bit infirm by the end, doomed to having babies and house-keeping and such.

I think thinking so much about representations of young women in fiction, especially YA fiction, has brought me to this bend in the road. I can't read romance novels with the same abandon as I used to. Even the passion of this Rochester (and there was passion, believe you me. He's actually my second-favorite Rochester yet--2006 BBC's Toby Stephens is still my fav-- and the chemistry between the two was palpable and super sexy-constrained) couldn't quite move my suspension of disbelief, or rather, my concerns about women's roles and their depictions in fiction. I came out wishing Rochester didn't have quite so much baggage, that he was about eight years younger, and that they could have gone tromping the world together at the end.


  1. I totally agree! I saw it last weekend. My biggest complaint was the ending. I was left wanting more. When the credits started rolling I thought, that's it?! I agree the 2006 BBC version is still my favorite but this was well done. A bit fast, but well done.

  2. I know, Shari! I wanted more! At the same time, I liked the more tender ending here, without the "Pilot knows me, why don't you?" joking Jane line. This one was a really sweet, more heartfelt and natural ending, I thought.

    Kacie - yes!! you absolutely should!!