I'm a sucker for the classics and like Bridget Jones before me, when times are tough, a good dose of Pride and Prejudice can always be relied upon to renew my spirits. That's not to say that I'm not a little fussy about my bonnet-busters but a classic done well can bring a whole new audience to story lines that could be overlooked by modern audiences without a bit of love from Hollywood.
Recently we have been inundated with remakes of old movies with plenty more on the horizon including Dirty Dancing and Footloose. Many of these seem to have been on our 'video' list just a short time ago and you have to wonder if the world deserves another Karate Kid or more Dukes of Hazard. However, at the risk of sounding 'old', Jane Eyre is a story that merits an update and this is exactly what has happened in Cary Fukunaga's latest version.
Aussie Mia Wasikowska presents a Jane who is recognisable to an audience of her real life peers. She is a product of her time but she is very human in her determination to seek more from the life she has been provided with. This version does not dwell on the terrible schooling she suffered and I think this shortcut is well made. In previous films the school has been almost caricatured and is too removed from our own experiences to be believable.
Mrs Rochester's role has also been kept to a minimum as this movie concentrates fully on Jane's story and her growing awareness of her own sense of self and moral values as she increasingly finds her independence.
Michael Fassbender provides a straightforward Edward Rochester who feels his life is marred by one bad decision. Previous more melodramatic productions have portrayed a more conflicted Rochester but in this streamlined, modern take he does the job justice. Dame Judi Dench plays Mrs Fairfax in a thoroughly modern way too. She humanises Jane as she reaches out for companionship in their isolated life and offers a glimpse of normality in Jane's dysfunctional experience of family.
Jane Eyre can hold it's own amongst the current trend of remakes. Whether it is your first exposure to the timeless tale or like myself, you consider yourself an old friend of Jane's, you'll enjoy it's pace and refreshingly natural photography but most importantly, the great love story that it remains.
Yep, got to see this. I have two other adaptations of Jane Eyre on DVD - they are both good, but both miss the mark in some parts; you are absolutely right about the how her childhood has been made almost silly in the past. Not so sure about making Rochester less complicated, as that is something I really like about Bronte's characters - they don't fit the typical mould of hero or heroine. That said, it is Fassbender! I'll hold judgement until I can make my way to the cinema :)
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, ladies. Rochester is still complicated and you can see he is tempted to follow convention but I felt the modern interpretation was that he momentarily considers 'making a good match' but ultimately is compelled to throw convention to the wind and follow his heart. He's not sentimental, he just feels he has done all he can for his first wife and that he has earned the right to some happiness. Maybe he's right but should he risk Jane's moral integrity?
I've never seen this. It's definitely one of my favorite books. I'm pretty sure I have two copies, both of which are very well worn (aka well loved). I've seen a lot of remakes, so hopefully this stands up well to the book.
By L.R. - senior writer Tuesday, 6th of September @ 10:18 am
Go see it before it's off the big screen - you won't be sorry!