OT: Jane Eyre

There will be a Richard Armitage-related post today. I just wanted to store this information. This is neither a formal review, nor an academic reaction (I’m not sure that I’ve seen any of the other dramatizations of Jane Eyre). Went with friends to the matinee this morning at eleven in my favorite theatre in the world. Wonderful to wake up watching Jane Eyre and eating yogurt with granola.

  • excellent script, I thought, given the problems of dramatizing a novel from the 1840s and also of treating a text that is so beloved of so many. The film only lost my attention twice, and once it was probably because the waiter was passing in front of me with something that smelled good. The other time, though, was a bit tricky, right in the beginning as Jane is running away from Thornfield. I sort of had to wrench my notice back to the screen at that point. I particularly liked the decision to shorten drastically most of the childhood material — this is the hardest part for modern audiences to understand and it is also the point at which any script of this film runs the greatest risk of self-undermining melodrama. Brontë’s commentary on Victorian morals is more subtle than the average reader today realizes.
  • Mia Wasikowska!!!! OMG Mia Wasikowska! What an amazing actress. Had never heard of her before, nor seen her other stuff, but I’m putting any more of her work I can get my hands on onto my must-see list. The quality of her acting I loved most here: her capacity to let her thoughts onto her face so subtly, so that it was worthwhile for the camera to linger on her face after she shut a door, for example, to see what her reaction to the dialogue in the previous scene had been. She seems to be able to tell us what she’s thinking merely by means of the way she draws a breath. Her face draws attention to the inner life of the characters in ways that we don’t see so often from the current crowd of leading lady wannabes. I want to see much, much more of her, in a wide variety of roles. She’s literally transfixing — she’d be worth watching frame by frame to catch everything her face is saying.
  • Michael Fassbender, on the other hand, although he’s clearly handsome and fits physically the general parameters of “my type,” left me uninterested. I thought he had two really effective scenes: the early one in the living room, where he looks at Jane’s drawings, and the final scene of the movie. Honestly, I feel like the first scene was so strong because it was well scripted; and the last scene was strong because Rochester is blind at that point in the narrative and so Fassbender can’t / shouldn’t move his eyes. I felt consistently throughout the performance that Fassbender didn’t have the upper half of his face under control and that his eye movements were constantly, sometimes ironically, undermining his effect. To me this was particularly problematic in the scene where Rochester confesses his love to Jane (who at that point thinks he wishes to marry Blanche Ingram). He displays a limited range of visual expression here — and none of it is especially subtle. Once he is forced to stop using his eyes, you get the sense that he could be a great actor. But by then it was too late for me. I’ve been told Hunger is great, and I will seek that out, but I’m now on notice as skeptical.
  • I.e., I, and my friend’s partner (who’s emphatically not a Janeite), did not really “feel” from the production why Jane loved Rochester. I think this is ok from Wasikowska’s side (albeit disappointing), as Jane’s supposed to have a sober exterior, and this is the Victorian period and we’re not supposed to have women projecting their deepest inner passions, but I never felt Wasikowska got much back from Fassbender. It’s a feature of the character that Rochester feels arrogant, put-upon, and sorry for himself, but especially for me, the crucial scene mentioned above (Rochester says he loves Jane, not Blanche Ingram), is not only misplayed — it is heavily devoid of anything like a believable passion from Fassbender. Disappointing.
  • Exceptionally well cast, great supporting performance, the part of the film I’m most enthused about after Wasikowska: Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers. This is another character that easily risks a descent into plot-undermining melodrama, not least because Brontë obviously dislikes both the type and her personification of it in this novel so much, but Bell is simply excellent, with his naturalistic performance giving us a sense of Rivers as a human being — a man whose belief in G-d is first ecstatic rather than inherently or predominantly triumphalist. Bell confronts the audience with the inflexibility of character that makes Rivers such an unattractive romantic partner only at the very end of his performance, yet we see the dilemma in which St. John finds himself regarding Jane easily quite early on. A child actor who’s learned to act. Impressive. His performance was also the main thing to like about the rather wretched The Eagle. He doesn’t have a leading man’s face, but I’ll be hoping to see more of him as well.
  • Other people we know: Holliday Grainger of Sparkhouse and Robin Hood fame, who’s just fine, but whose part has been made disappointingly small (one of the few disappointments of the script for me. I like the Rivers sisters but we don’t see entirely why it is that Jane likes them as the explanation is reduced to the shorthand of “you saved my life”). Very much looking forward to her performance of Lucrezia in The Borgias.

Anyway, discuss: I’m sure that most of you are much more informed about this production than I am.

~ by Servetus on March 27, 2011.

117 Responses to “OT: Jane Eyre”

  1. Jane doesn’t open here till April 1. Looking forward to it.

    Your reactions to Fassbender are interesting, as many have been raving about him. I felt similarly about DDA in N&S; very good, but where was the passion? All very sweet and Victorian on her part. But.

    Borgias premieres this week on CBC – YAY! Hungry for more historical/costume etc. drama after Downton and Pillars!!

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    • I had heard great things about Fassbender, too, but I don’t see it. He was competent, good at a few points, but it was not a memorable performance.

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  2. I remember he made a favorable impression on me in Hex and in Angel (and perhaps because I liked his voice and his looks), but I had read in some reviews he was too restrained and perhaps too gentlemanly of a Rochester? Haven’t seen it yet; don’t know if it will come to the local theater. God bless DVDs.

    I really loved the Ruth Wilson/Toby Stephens version which I watched again recently, but would like to see this for comparison.

    Now you have me extremely intrigued about Mia. She sounds like an actress who would also make a good screen partner with a certain subtly expressive actor we know.

    Planning to watch “The Borgias” also.

    I guess it may be hard to emote “proper” Victorian behavior and still reveal those sexual passions . . . ? DDA was lovely and the train station scene is just gorgeous, but I put it down to her being a less experienced actress–and one more accustomed to comedic roles. Perhaps she was trying overly hard to be the genteel Victorian lady?

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    • As I was writing this, I thought that, too — Wasikowska has a similar range of facial expression to Armitage.

      I haven’t read any reviews of this film — just had heard from some fellow Armitagemaniacs that they thought Fassbender was great.

      Perhaps it’s a peculiar issue with Victorian drama — when little is said, or relatively little (although you can’t fault this script in that regard; it’s well nigh explicit from the Victorian standpoint) you need to be able to reveal more with your face. Victorian lit is full of chance encounters that do or don’t become deeper relationships because the people in the encounter sense something from the other person’s facial expression.

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  3. I’m interested to see this in light of your remarks. Ms. Wasikowska seemed to sleep-walk through Alice in Wonderland, but it’s quite possible the excruciatingly lame script and direction were the problem. She gave a fine performance in The Kids are Alright.

    I confess I have never found Jane/Rochester to be at all compelling on page or screen. I was hoping this production might kindle some comprehension on my part, but it sounds like I might have to remain in the dark.

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    • I don’t think that this film will make you a fan of Jane Eyre if you weren’t already. By cutting out almost everything related to Jane’s childhood and Lowood, it focuses the reader’s attention on the love story, but it’s still a Gothic romance.

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      • Ah, well. I’m sure I will still find plenty to admire. Heck, I even found aspects of Chronicles of Riddick captivating, and that film was nothing short of ridiculous. Didn’t someone in a previous thread mention famous British actors slumming? Dame Judi Dench, we mean you!

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  4. I read the script, re-read the book and saw the movie twice. The script was amazing, I couldn’t write for an entire week after I read it. It was that good. It knocked me on my a&^. I wanted to hang it all up.

    Mia in my mind, has created the seminal “Jane.” She is one of my favorite litterary characters. Her self-respect, her strength, she was a truly modern woman who wouldn’t left passion or religion stand before her own self-worth. Honestly, re-reading it later in life, it resonnated more with me.

    Did you catch another RH alum? Will Scarlett? You are missing a heart if Fassbender didn’t touch you. His voice is delicious. Of course, I would love to see The Armitage as Rochester. I would.

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    • Ah, that must have been the younger Mason — I thought he looked familiar.

      Guess I’m missing a heart 🙂 but Fassbender left me uninterested. I’m going to watch Hunger because you praised it so highly, though.

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    • I have to say I came to appreciate Jane as a character and the entire book more with each reading (I first read it at age 10). She is an interesting character with a great deal of inner strength and resolve.
      I will look forward to seeing this as I have found something to enjoy in every adaptation of this book. And Fassbender does has a great voice.

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  5. Hunger was hard to watch. Fishbowl was also hard to watch, but good. How you can be interested, I know not. But let’s agree to disagree. :0

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  6. Haven’t seen Mia in any film or ballet. She’s a trained ballerina in Oz but said in one of her interviews that dancing is very limiting sort of to her artistic inclination, hence branched out to acting. I was fascinated by her when saw the first magazine cover around during the promotion of Alice in Wonderland. To me she seams so classic in look and demeanor. Will try to catch up with the film when it arrives.

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    • I feel like one sees that in her movements.

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      • Trying to get caught up here a bit. I find her dance background an interesting parallel with Mr. A. They both seem to possess a fine-honed ability to express thought and emotion through body language. And I believe RA said something of the same thing about not finding Musical theater ultimately fulfilling to him in his artistic endeavors . . .

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  7. This early in her career…would love to see Mia & RA in future project either film or TV.

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  8. since i got hooked on north & south (two years ago now) i’ve thought our lovely mr. armitage would make a brilliant mr. rochester. [jane eyre has been my bible since i was ten and my favorite film version is the timothy dalton/zela clark one, to date until richard does it! the tiomothy dalton version is rather long, and does contain a lot of the early, childhood jane but it is very well done and holds true to the book.] anyway, i believe our richard would do that schizophrenia/bipolarity in mr. rochester – the dark, brooding, truly byronic anti-hero (i mean darcy is just a fluffed shirt in comparison) versus the sweet, tender romantic hero – just beautifully. our richard is now just the right age, and he has the perfect acting temperament for rochester, in my opinion; he maybe a little too handsome, but he does love to uglify himself so maybe he could work on that with rochester. plus, what a treat it would be to see richard armitage in another period drama – mmmmmm, one can only dream.
    i haven’t conjured up in my mind who the perfect jane would be against richard; it would have to be somebody damn good (perhaps a newcomer). i rather liked ruth wilson against toby stephens in the last bbc version….but of course she couldn’t do jane again with another lead. we’ll have to ponder richard’s perfect jane a bit more. thanks for your review of this mia version – i can’t wait to give it a gander….

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    • Thanks for the comment, Vicki, and welcome.

      This Eyre is a BBC films coproduction. I was wondering if maybe in the meantime the BBC considers Armitage’s Thornton so iconic that they wouldn’t give him the lead in another piece like this, as it would dilute their N&S brand?

      I also appreciate the contrast of the other productions, which I know nothing about. Love the idea of Timothy Dalton as Rochester, I may try that one out.

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      • Don’t think anybody could portray another JT in N&S in the very foreseeable future. Perhaps in 30-50 yrs.. not in this age of RAmania. BBC could hear the outry of his fans!!

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      • I don’t really think the BBC considers N&S “iconic” or a “brand”. It was just an adaption of a lesser known novel with two lesser known leads. As far as I know they didn’t even bother to repeat it. N&S has always been more an insider tip than a classic.

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        • I’m sure that was true when it was made. However, if I were casting at the BBC, I would ask myself, “is everyone going to see Thornton in this Rochester”? It may not have been widely known then, but it surely is now.

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          • Yeah, while N&S started out as just another BBC period drama, I think today you would have to say it’s taken on a status above and beyond others, much as the mid-90s version of Pride and Prejudice with Firth and Ehle now holds a special place.

            Do you wonder if, having been so closely identified with Thornton, and then playing another period character in RH (albeit one much less attached to historical reality) for three years, RA deliberately set out to distance himself from period pieces? (thinking of Spooks, Moving On and Strike Back)

            Again, we don’t know what he’s read for, what he’s been offered and what he might have done, were there not scheduling conflicts . . . just pondering things.

            I do think he would make a fab Rochester. They could “ugly” him up a bit. 😉

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            • I don’t think N&S has achieved a status anyway near P&P with CF. I think it is still and will remain an insider tip.

              I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision not to do any more period drama. He has been on fans’ wishlists for any Austen adaption and period drama done in the recent years but do we know that TPTB considered him? He did “period” with The Impressionist shortly after N&S and said he wasn’t concerned about typecasting and fear of that certainly didn’t prevent him from doing SB between two series of Spooks. Scheduling conflicts may have been an issue as since spring 2006 he was always under contract for long running series.

              As to Rochester, if/when JE is done the next time for the small screen or the big screen, RA will be too old.

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              • I’m not saying he ever actually will play Rochester, Jane, just that I think he would be great in that role. RA would be able to portray the complexity of the character and help us understand why Jane is so drawn to him in spite of those mysogynistic tendencies of his. Sometimes, it’s fun to take a flight of fancy and just imagine “what if?”

                Whatever roles he chooses, I am always interested to see what he does with the characters, including a comic book villain Nazi spy and a kingly dwarf in a children’s story, and whatever else comes down the pike for him.

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      • Interestingly, Timothy played both Rochester and Heathcliff in films.

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        • Aha, I didn’t realize this. I was also alerted that TS was also in Tenant of Wildfell Hall. So my theory is no good.

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      • thanks for your welcome! i have been enjoying your blog for some time now but feel shy and silly as i am a middle-aged mom (ex-academic turned full-time mommy) and like to leave the blogging and commenting to all you lovely young people. i especially enjoy yours as you are truly brilliant and as you employ that brilliance so well in ruminations about somebody i too find thoroughly captivating. i am not at all a groupie of any stars per say, only this one, and i can’t really put my finger on why him – i mean there are other handsome, talented actors out there. i find it interesting – about richard armitage and his fandom – that so many of his “groupies” are such bright, talented, intellectual women. he has commented on this point himself, if my middle-aged brain recalls right. anyhow, i just enjoyed your meanderings on richard’s pronunciation of “little” and the letter “l” in general – something my thesis advisor of years ago would have called “a conceptual trip to the 18th floor”. i loved it (and actually i would love his voice saying anything he damn well pleased)! do try the timothy dalton verson of jane and tell us what you think….

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        • oh yeah, you’re right angie, by the way. timothy dalton did play heathcliff too. i’m not a great fan of wuthering heights – always found it overly melodramatic and lacking the “meeting of minds” between jane and rochester. WH seemed to emphasize beauty over character and i do think heathcliff and catherine were simply hot after each other (don’t get me wrong, this, of course, has it’s merits!). and servetus, yes, facial expressions must have been a critical form of communication in an age where so little interchange (actions or words) was deemed appropriate between men and women! i really do have to see this mia version…

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          • I’ve always preferred Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights myself. Dalton is the only actor I could think of off the top of my head who had played both roles, although appearanace-wise he was probably better suited as Heathcliff (I remember when that movie came out comparisons in his looks to a young Olivier were made).

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        • Oh, Vicki, a lot of us aren’t that young–well, we are young at heart. Mr. A helps keep us that way! I have said before I think he comes into our lives–or gives us that “a-ha!” moment if we’d seen him before but he didn’t register on our radars–when we need him the most. I was going through the illnesses of my parents and inlaws and subsequent passings and personal health issues and retreating into Armitagemania helped me cope. And now I have made so many wonderful friends from around the world!

          I’ve met everyone from teenagers to grandmothers who are ardent admirers of this man. He stands apart from all the other handsome, talented, charming actors out there, bless his modest, sweet, unassuming heart.

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          • angie,

            it’s ironic that you should mention parental and in-law illnesses and deaths bringing you to richard. that’s exactly how i ended up at his doorstep! in our 17year marriage, my husband and i have dealt with endless tragedy; the terminal illness of my dad, whom i adored, early on (he died his late fifties), and then the ongoing illnesses of my widowed and ridiculously difficult mom who lives with us; we’ve also had my in-laws and their old age, illnesses and life troubles to cope with too. that combined with raising small children as older parents – well – it had definitely driven me to drink (!) and near to a nervous breakdown when one day i discovered north & south and a certain actor – and well, you know the rest. i just calmed down. he, our richard i mean, did that. my therapist calls him “a good coping mechanism” and i agree, only the word “good” is the understatement of the century, by god!

            i agree with you that timothy dalton looked a better heathcliff; his acting style is more old world but i was near driven to tears in his scene with jane, after the wedding falls apart, and he is trying to explain everything so she will stay with him. that line, which i don’t think they fully put in the TD version, where he says “it’s not because she [bertha mason] is mad that i hate her” – in the book he says if jane ever went mad, he would never, ever stop loving her – well, swoon. great romance. ok. gotta go check on my kids. thanks for your comments – and bless you, you made me feel a lot better about feeling too old to be such a groupie!

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            • I am glad I could make you feel better, vicki. 😀 I think so many of us find ourselves in uncharted territory when we discover and experience the Armitage Effect and it is very important for you to know you are not alone out there. And I can think of far worse coping mechanisms than Richard Armitage.

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              • absolutely, angie. i just relieved myself of a stressful day by watching the bearded mr. armitage in bccmee’s hobbit interview clip. sigh. i do hope he grows it again, just so we can enjoy a bit longer!

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                • Vicki,

                  I also really enjoyed reading your take on JE. And I agree with @rob, it’s interesting that a novel written in the first half of the 19th century can still stir up such a debate today, when many popular novels of that period have long since been forgotten . . . it’s great having a new voice in the discussion, too. 😀

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                  • hi angie,

                    thanks for your kind words – you and the others are all so warm and welcoming and your comments, so thought-provoking.

                    i’ve been totally out of commission – my daughter and i – with one of these wierd new combo viruses you only see these days: combination upper respiratory and stomach ailments but not strep. anyway, we laid around, weak and weary, and watched movies like “sense and sensibility” (emma thompson version) and an all time classic – gone with the wind. i have both on dvd. both were firsts for my daughter. she and we enjoyed it thoroughly between runs to the bathroom!

                    well, i have news – i saw the mia/fassbender version last night with two of my dearest friends and i think i will save my comments on that until this evening or tomorrow – (maybe scarlett has rubbed off on me; i’ll just think about that tomorrow) – but there is a lot to think about. yes, it’s amazing what a clamour jane eyre still raises after so long…the mark of great literature.

                    right now, i’m going to try to answer all the comments to my comments so far and some of the newer, interesting points i hadn’t seen until now – that should take all day (!) but, i must say, a most agreeable way to pass a day!

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                • Vicki,

                  I really liked that beard, too, although I love his stubble in its various lengths *sigh*–and maybe we will get more beard time. 😉

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                  • angie,

                    i prefer the stubble over the full beard in the end too, but unlike some women, beards appeal to me too. i think they have an endearing quality, which seems antithetical. not giving anything away, i thought fassbender looked softer somehow, with the beard at the end of the movie. that scene was moving…

                    BTW, who started this stubble thing anyway? brad pitt? it drives women wild. much nicer than clean-shaven thing – the sex factor turned up a notch.

                    around here, all the dads don’t shave all weekend. gotta say – i like it!

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        • Good to read that there’s life after academia 🙂 and flattering to be called young as well 🙂 Keep on commenting that way, vickihermit.

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          • there is an afterlife, true, but i do miss the mines sometimes. i bury myself in books and writing and richard, a lot and not necessarily in that order (!), so my head won’t explode. kids are great,though – my 11 year old daughter loved jane eyre the way i did – like lookin’ in the mirror, as they say…

            so, more comments; what an instant pro i’ve become!

            i think jane said above that by the next jane eyre production, richard would be too old to play rochester. but isn’t rochester just about 40 in the book and jane about 20? even two or three years from now, our RA could pull off 40, don’t you think?

            second, who was in Tennant of Wildfell Hall? Timothy Dalton? I didn’t know that – will have to check it out.

            third, might be going to see the mia version of jane this weekend, with a friend…very excited. will chime in, if i do…

            finally, what do you all think of this? a couple of months ago, i wrote mr. armitage an anonymous letter (!) asking him to consider the role of puddleglum, the marshwiggle, in the upcoming fourth movie of the narnia chronicles, the silver chair (upcoming if disney gives it a go that is). if any of you loved this series as i did, you’ll remember puddleglum as a tall, spindly, long-nosed, brooding character (sound like someone you know?) and an ornery, crotchety, deadpan- witted but loveable old fart – one of my favorite characters in the whole series. anyway, it’s rumored johnny depp might be playing the role but i think our richard would be tons better. johnny depp has overdone the children’s characters, and in my opinion, tends to overly caricaturize some of them with his ever rolling eyes, etc. i like him in general (jack sparrow is hysterical) but why not let richard armitage have a go at it? especially as he will already have had relevant experience with captain america and then the hobbit movies, i hope he thinks about it and auditions….you all should encourage him too. as far as i know, casting is not complete yet on this movie.

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            • vickihermit,

              I confess I have never read Narnia books but that sounds like an intriguing role. And I wonder if 10 is the magic age for reading Jane Eyre for the first time? Seems it was for several of us . . . I had two older sisters, so I felt I had to read what they read, so little surprise I ended up reading on a college level by the time I was 12 LOL (and a good thing they had good taste in books!)

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              • angie,

                what a treat it must have been to have sisters. i have one brother and though we yak a lot now, i often wished for a sister to share everything with…i’ve heard a lot of others say they read eyre at age ten too – i think it’s the beginning of puberty thing which for girls coincides with this instant interest in romance.

                do give the narnia chronicles a glance if you get the chance. they’re fun to read, even in adulthood, and you’ll get through them in five minutes now (easy reads). disney’s done a fine job with the epic films except maybe the script in the third was lacking (i loved james macavoy as tumnus in the lion, the witch and the wardrobe; my daughter is madly in love with ben barnes as caspian in the second and third). so, why not our RA in the fourth???????????

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    • Seen this version of TDalton. Yeah it’s rather long on the aspect you mentioned.

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  9. @angie and other DDA fans, I admit to having been a wee bit disappointed in the Margaret Hale performance. Just a bit. You are quite right; in the contaxt of the Victorian woman, it’s difficult to portray a more complex woman. (DDA is absolutely adorable in the interview segment of the DVD) Perhaps lack of experience in this genre, however I just felt there was some lack of mobile facial expressions, which might subtely convey a greater emotional depth.

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    • Margaret is most convincing to me when she is responding directly to other characters. When her inner thoughts are supposed to carry the scene, she seems a little inert – she kind of stares into the middle distance and I lose the sense of internal conflict. On the whole I thought it a good performance, but not a great one.

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      • Yeah, I don’t want anyone to think I thought Daniella gave a bad performance; I just don’t think overall it was on par with Richard, but then Richard is a tough act to beat. I agree, CP, you didn’t sense the inner wheels working away during certain scenes in the way you can sense it with Richard. She was, as you say, good but not great. Richard was great.
        But THANK HEAVENS there was actual chemistry between them–as RA said in that program on period dramas, that “tingle.” Poor RA has not been fortunate in that regard with some of his leading ladies (yes, GOR and Laila, I am talking about YOU).

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  10. As an avid Eyreite, I can’t wait to see this film, but sadly, it doesn’t come out until 9 September in the UK! The opinions I’ve read from other fans of JE have been mixed, like yours. One of the complaints that keep coming back is that of how rushed it feels and that the romance doesn’t feel believable. (Incidentally, that’s one of the big complaints I have with regards to Pride & Prejudice ’05!) Still, another version of JE is always welcome. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your views on it with us, Servetus!

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    • That’s an awful long time to wait!

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      • Oh yeah. 5 months and 10 days. The only thing that cheers me up about it is that it’s not out until a little over a MONTH later (13 Oct.) in Sweden. So all o’ y’all in America are lucky to see it already, or to see it in the next few weeks!

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  11. […] I saw the film with my Dear Friend, she complained about Michael Fassbender (above) as Rochester, saying he drew too much attention to himself by using his eyes so much that it undermined the […]

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  12. Thank you for sharing your opinion.
    I also can’t wait for the new film JE. Although, I still remember JE from 2006., mini-series BBC Ruth Wilson played Jane Eyre and Toby Stephens E. Rochester, Sandy Welch was a screenwriter )the same who so beautifully transferred to the screen of N & S).
    The film is full of life and excitement, suspense, with its magnificent landscapes.
    I think Mr. And as Rochester would be stunning

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  13. I’ve been thinking about this film ever since we saw it, Dear Friend, and I’ve come up with an answer to the Fassbender question here: http://feminema.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/jane-eyre-2011-ahhhhh/. But in retrospect I wonder whether this is because I’m reacting to your position! Looking forward to your response.

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    • Didion,

      I enjoyed reading your take on the film. It really sounds like Mia’s performance alone makes it worth seeing. And your differing POV with Servetus concerning Fassbender’s performance just makes me all the more intrigued to evaluate said performance for myself. Thanks for providing the link!

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    • I’m not avoiding you, Dear Friend. Just thinking —

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    • didion and servetus et. al,

      i enjoyed this thread a lot, and didion your comments on fassbender, even though i haven’t seen this version yet! i’d like to throw a couple of thoughts into the hat.

      when asking, why rochester?, we have to remember that jane has been exposed to almost no men in her odd little life. there is john reed, her young cousin, who is horrible to her. there is the hypocritical mr. brocklehurst of lowood who is an older, authority figure but who is still horrible to her. there is ms. temple’s betrothed who takes her away from jane. given this desert past, our jane has every cause to fear and hate men.

      after that, rochester is most certainly an oasis.

      rochester must be to the 20 year old jane what a first male teacher is like to a say a ten year old girl. an authority figure, an educator, and ,as well, a fascination who makes you blush simply because he is taller than you, has a deeper voice and well is just that oddity of oddities, a man! and a man who allows jane to talk and voice her opinions, while she is literally led down the garden path with him….

      i sometimes think jane doesn’t really fall deeply in love with rochester until she meets st. john rivers in the end, who is posed as a greek god against the worn out mr. rochester. despite what must have been something of a sexual attraction, jane comes to see the lack of heart, of romantic passion, in rivers and subsequently finds her own passion lies with rochester…

      didion, i totally agree with you that rochester is a really tough role and is usually played too soft or just plain wrong i would say. i like toby stephens but i thought the almost smug arrogance and almost happy playfullness of his version was all wrong – as was ruth wilson’s schoolgirlishness. though i liked her smile and somewhat wanted to believe that jane could be secretly giddy; in the end though, i had to conclude that jane eyre is just too austere a character to have been so expressive, even in company with only herself. she would have thought it a weakness of mind and spirit i think.

      the problem – and this is my reflection on rochester overall – is how the term “byronic” is bandied about. darcy, captain wentworth, john thornton, etc. etc. – none of these guys are byronic heroes in the true sense of the term. only the bronte sisters, greatly impressed by the life of byron, attempted the characterization in full – rochester and heathcliff – both of whom are by first a twist of fate and then a resultant dark nature, the consummate anti-heroes.

      you are so right, didion – playing rochester right is playing him as the reluctant, and not the romantic, hero.

      feel free to correct me, you more learned, literary types, but my understanding is byron, having fallen in love with and having involved himself with his own half sister, scandalized and heartbroken, expelled from england, roamed the continent on an almost suicidal quest for some meaning to his broken life.

      rochester’s twist of fate, though they don’t elaborate on it in the book, is first his father and brother’s manipulation of him (swindling him away from the estate and away from any inheritance) and then their machinations in attaching him to bertha mason. they may not have realized what a wretch bertha was, but they saw her as way to get rid of edward rochester, permanently. jean rhys, in WIDE SARGASSO SEA, does an interesting prequel to jane eyre which fictionalizes the story of rochester and bertha antoinetta mason – in jamaica.

      rochester is completely weary and weather worn, totally jaded by the time he meets young jane. he has not only suffered the abandonment and betrayal of his father and brother, the impending madness of wife bertha, the co-conspiring and trickery of the weak-minded richard mason, but also his own self-inflicted punishments; the wayward womanizing (celine varens, etc), the aimless gallavanting throughtout europe, the cynical adoption of heartless pleasure over mindful action. in effect, he is a hollow,
      hope-less, shell of a man.

      so, when he encounters our jane for the first time, he has to be played angry and questioning, almost toying with jane, daring her to be real (remember how he keeps calling her a witch, a fairy, an unearthly thing – he doesn’t want to believe she is real!).

      in jane, rochester almost immediately recognizes an innocence he lost long ago. he almost immediately decides he has to trap that innocence – catch it in a bottle before it flies away – like a rare breed of moth. he has to have her and to hold her. thus, all those contrived meetings, rehearsed scenes to make her jealous, party games to find her out (the gypsy thing is nuts and has been done differently in so many versions).

      rochester is arrogant and yes, almost misogynistic, in his toying with jane’s emotions. it is true, he is older and more experienced and a man of the world so to speak. but, he is also deeply insecure as well – insecure about his own right to stake a claim to innocence when he is a tainted, wretched sinner. and insecure about his chances to win her, for the same reasons. the more unpredictable she reveals herself to be (the quiet, demure nun who paints wild pictures), the more he is unsure of her and himself. he treads much more lightly towards the middle and end of the story…

      as with jane, i don’t think rochester falls deeply in love for a good, long while, until he realizes she is more than the virginal, stainless, angel he has been seeking. happily, there is more to the package than he bargained for. she is intelligent, strong, brave and true – all of which adds depth to his need for her.

      by the way, there is an early, early version of jane eyre with orson welles and joan fontaine i forgot to mention in my earlier comments. it is dark film and, as always with welles’ work, it is thoroughly original and consuming. i thought joan fontaine was too sweet and innocent and beautiful for the role of jane, but again, welles throws some spice into the bargain, as a very moody, dark rochester. it’s worth a look for sure.

      ok, i could go on and on, but that has always been my take on rochester. he is harder to play than jane – the movies just never give the character a chance to play itself out and well. a really good script which without words reveals the deep darkness and anger (and even violence) in rochester, respectively good direction, and, aahhemm, an excellent, excellent actor, is necessary for the job to be done right!

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      • Vicki, what a fabulous comment! And I agree completely that he’s troubled — both by others’ actions against him as well as his own (the shadowy sexual past with various women). One suspects that if he had married Miss Ingram, he would have been an unloving, if not cruel, husband.

        I’m enough of a romantic to think he truly does fall in love with Jane, and that even before the fire/blindness he would have been good to her. But considering how naive she was, yet how much she knew of Rochester’s dark history (even before the appearance of Bertha), she has to have been a truly exceptional romantic to have looked beyond all his rages, moods, sexual history (with Adele’s mother at least), and so on to believe that he could truly love her.

        Which makes the story sweeter, yes? Because they had mutual faith in one another, that they saw such a spiritual connection between them, that they could come from such different pasts to find “equality” between them. Ahhhhhh.

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        • @ Vicki thank you for your comment and touching on the Byronic hero and Rochester’s own insecurities and self-loathing which fuel most of his unseemly behavior. And for the cf btw Rivers and Rochester!

          Love. Why does anyone truly love anyone? I like how Bronte touches on love at first blush, that surface love, I love you for all the qualities I lack in myself, for who I think you are vs. that love that then grows into a deeper more meanful love. I see you with your faults, and yet I am able to love you. It is beautiful. It is a powerful love.

          I can only imagine how shocking this book was for the time period, esp with Rochester’s affairs!!!! And isn’t it exciting that it can still provoke a discussion?

          I have not seen the complete Wells ver only clips on U Tube. Fontaine seems far to pretty to play Jane. The directer said that that ver was a fav of his growing up. Must check it out.

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          • rob,

            thanks for your comments re: my own. i just wrote didion a giant comment where i think i touch on some of the points you’ve made here. you are right – this book was a shocker in its time and probably got a better readership because of it – though everybody deemed it scandalous! luckily, bronte was a parson’s daughter and didn’t get out much, so social pressure probably didn’t affect her life the way it would have if she was “out” in society. she did take it personally though. do watch the orson wells version sometime – if only for its eerie quality – so right for thornfield. fontaine is way too pretty for jane. i just saw the mia/fassbender version this past weekend and i have to say, at points even mia seemed too pretty; gorgeous collarbones, lips too full, etc. well, i guess they’ll be version after version of this classic story for us to rail on about – as you say, written so many years ago and still evoking so much good discussion….write on, friends!

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        • didion,

          thanks for your kind words. i’ve been out of commission via a bad virus and then endless domestic obligation. i had wanted to comment to your comment way back when…

          i agree that rochester would have been a horror of a husband to blanche ingram and most likely to anyone but jane. blanche especially fueled his rage i think because in her he recognizes the same self-important, self-interested, self-absorbtion that he also possessed as a child of landed aristocracy; he calls her “mercenary” but he too was easily persuaded in his youth to marry for beauty, glamour and, yes, money.

          i hadn’t meant to imply that rochester did not love jane until the very end, the big thornfield fire and his ultimate blindness. i think he loved her from the day he saw her. but i think that love did not deepen to it’s full ripeness until she actually left him.

          all along rochester loves for his own reasons. he spies an innocence/stainlessness/purity/virginity (corporeal and spiritual) in jane that he determines he needs and he goes after it in a series of orchestrated maneuvers.

          BUT, rochester’s need for jane’s purity is contstantly at odds with his patronizing desire for her to do exactly what he wants. twice at thornfield, rochester wants jane to do “wrong”.

          during the night of the fire in his bedroom, a sexually charged evening to say the least, he wants her to succumb to him. both in nightdress, both cold and in need of warming, both overheated from the impending fire and the impending realization afterward that jane has just saved rochester’s life, the temptation to give in to the emotions of the night are great. in the book, jane’s pristine fears reign and though she reluctantly does give him her hand, she escapes him and herself (good god, what might jane-in-love have do if she let her!) by running out of the room. rochester, more overcome, clearly would have had her that very night if she had let him.

          the second time he tempts her with potential “wrong” he outrightly asks her to stay with him outside the bonds of matrimony. after the wedding has fallen apart, after jane knows all, he asks her, in the book, to live with him at his more obscure lodgings at ferndean, where they would be out of the public eye and away from social convention. jane gives him an emphatic no. i don’t believe it is until this point that rochester fully comes to realize the strength of mind and character in the woman he has come to care for so deeply.

          i think the point at which the novel moves away from rochester’s patronizing machinations of jane and towards the realization of the mature jane (the jane still in love but who will be her own person, even at the cost of both their broken hearts) is the point at which rochester’s love for her deepens into a profound love; an acceptance of her as a woman, no longer a girl, his own true equal, a deeper, richer, more respectful love.

          i think in the second half of your comment to my comment you are once again asking “why rochester?” in the case of jane. why him, now that she knows him better, his dark moods, his gruff and patronizing manner, oddly manipulative ways, his dark, shadowy, sinful past, and so forth?

          well, you’re going to laugh, but i think between jane and rochester, jane’s falling in love is far more sexual. i don’t think her love for this man had anything to do with what she thought he might feel for her; in fact, if she had a calculus at all, she’d have thought him wholly incapable of any feelings for her other than any employer’s interest in an employee. given her life, she’s never considered herself love-able, especially not romantic love, and especially not by someone as profound to her as her mr. rochester.

          i really think overall, she had no choice in the matter. her heart was lost well before she even realized it had gone missing…

          her experience, as i said i thought in my first long and laborious comment, is as with any first love – in all ways. she experiences emotional and sexual stirrings in for the first time; heart, mind and body touched for the first time. we none of us can really explain why we fall for who we fall for, can we? – the pure chemistry of it? – i think jane can’t either. and she can no more help it than we can.

          but she is able at all times to manufacture and maintain control over her mind and her body – much more than mr. rochester is able. and this is what saves her from his impetuousness and his control, and from even herself, were she just to let go, to throw propriety to the wind, and simply just feel…

          i think jane eyre’s singular virtue in this singular narrative (and what makes her and it so novel, so to speak) is her ability to rise above her every reality, see it for what it is, and imagine alternative ones if need be, especially where her survival warrants it. this is jane’s strength throughout the story.

          when she comes to realize as a very small child the harshness of the calvanist orthodoxy of the time (the hypocrisy and barbaric cruelty of the reeds’ morality at gateshead and brocklehurst’s religious dogma at lowood),she invents a new religion that serves her as a roadmap for her own life, with both a more compassionate orthodoxy and a more just God.

          it is this compassionate god that allows our jane to see what others of the time certainly would not have bothered to look for in her mr. rochester. she can forgive him his excesses and the sins of his past – she can even feel understanding and pity for him. she can look past these conventional unpardonables and see into a singularly lonely soul, lonely but with great depth and character, intelligence and humor, even, can we say it?, great kindness.

          one of my favorite lines in the whole book is the one where she returns after aunt reed is dead and in a very uncharacteristic gush of feeling, says: “thank you, mr. rochester, for your great kindness to me; wherever you are is my home, my only home.”

          even when jane learns the whole truth the day of the wedding, and realizes she must leave him, she tells him she loves him, “more than ever”. this is her compassion talking (indeed, a very modern and not a 19th century compassion), a compassion which enables her to see rochester’s unhappy, unfortunate past as an explanation for his wrongdoings, even as explanation for his use and abuse of her own feelings for him. i believe she forgives him almost as soon as she learns the truth, she loves him so by then.

          BUT, while that compassionate god of hers enables her to forgive, she cannot forget it all and then do what he wants, which is to grant him a pardon. her god is also a strong arbiter of justice, of right and wrong. it is jane’s profound sense of morality which also forces her, despite her hopelessly lost heart, to walk out on him. she decides that while rochester’s past might serve as explanations for his actions, they do not in any way excuse those actions, or excuse him. she knows it is not for her to pardon him (that is a job for someone in a higher station). all she knows then is that she can never forgive, respect or pardon herself, if she stays with him.

          also a very modern idea, jane eyre’s world is a world of action where each individual has free will, and is responsible for their own actions. she cannot excuse rochester’s “fate” as reason enough for his repeatedly choosing the wrong fork in the road – succumbing to temptations of body and soul. and, while she can readily pity him, she cannot accept his exhasperating self-pity, the constant blaming of his wretched fate for his wretched degeneration.

          indeed, as they part, when rochester still bemoans his unhappy fate, and begs her to stay at the end, he says, “what shall i do, jane? where turn for a companion, and for some hope?”, she urges him towards an inner faith and a self-reliance that has always been the underpinning of her character, but clearly has not been his at all: “do as I do,” she says to him, “trust in God, and yourself…”.

          oddly, while it is rochester’s ultimate realization of jane’s almost inhuman strength that crystallizes his love for her, it is jane’s ultimate realization of rochester’s very human passion that seals the deal for her in the end – makes her decide to return to him.

          not ironically, the point at which jane renounces the inauthentic proposals of st. john rivers, his blank spirituality and platonic love, and runs back to rochester, jane does not yet know that bertha mason is dead and that rochester is free to marry her. she has no idea of this and this is not an accident, i don’t think, on bronte’s part. all jane knows at that moment when she hears rochester’s voice in the wind is that she simply must go back to him – wrong or right – because she finally realizes that her love – their love – is the best they can do for one other in their earthly lives. even if it is not conventionally right, it is what is right for them.

          i think jane’s and rochester’s hearing of each other’s voices in the wind at the end (when even the highly “spiritual”, almost angelic, st. john rivers cannot hear them) is bronte wanting to choose love and passion – in this terrestrial life – over the vague, conventional morality and promise of an ethereal one. clearly here, bronte does not have the courage of her own convictions, she cannot go through with it, she cannot wholly commit to her own heart.

          therefore, only after this final decision of jane’s to return to rochester despite his being married to another, does the narrative itself conveniently
          clean-up the moral dilemma for jane. conveniently bertha is dead. conveniently, rochester pays the price for sins – his sight (also his hand, as in the book). conveniently, rochester’s redemption comes at his having saved the lives of his staff the night of the fire, and having tried his best to save bertha as well – all good penitence for decades of wrongdoing.

          by the time jane arrives, he is as stainless as she, and completely free and hers for the taking.

          i guess bronte, despite possessing a mind and imagination way ahead of her time, falls prey here to her own limitations, prejudices and fears (as we all do) about what would make jane and rochester’s union acceptable in the end. one could look at it as kind of a copout. but, hey. the novel was infamous enough, criticized as scandalous by many. imagine if the story ended with jane and rochester living in sin for the rest of their lives? it would have never been published and our beloved jane and rochester would have remained just a figment of charlotte bronte’s imagination….and, by heaven (!), what a loss it would have been for all of us!

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        • didion and readers,

          sorry for all the typos and formatting errors in my giant comments…hope you can make some sense of them, if you bother reading the litany at all. way too much thinking and way too much commenting, way too late at night…angie, clearly, i suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders too. thanks for your patience, all!

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          • @ Vicki what an insightful comment. so much to touch on. there were a couple of things that struck me — passionate love, free will and the idea that one can have a personal relationship with God outside of conventional religion. altho, the majority of marriages were still arranged, the idea of marring for love is starting to take hold. Ingram is symbolic of marring for status/wealth vs marring Jane for love. I am not sure that,a modern audience can truly appreciate what that meant for Rochester.

            Free will. I love this theme, no matter how down and out Jane is, how poor, how abused, how homeless she still has free will. THere are times when I want to say to her, “stay jane, live in sin and live in comfort. You deserve it.” But alas, she always takes the high road and that’s why we love her.

            During this period, you had the emergence of Unitarian religion, which was moving away from God through the church/relgion to a one on one relationship with God through nature, through arts, through studing world religions.

            One of my favorite lines is during the proposal scened when Rochester tells Jane there is an invisiable string connecting them and at any moment it might break.

            so what did you think of Fassbender’s Rochester? I did watch the Wells ver of JE last weekend. I can now see where the director paid homage to that ver in his ver. I didn’t feel the chemstry btw Jane and Rochester. I did enjoy Wells, but how can you not? I liked that it was a spoky gothic take on the story. But for me, I love the love story. I feel with this recent ver they really did do the book justice. Mia has that etherial quality to her and Fassbender makes my insides turn to goo.

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            • rob,

              thanks so much for your comments. i love that there is someone else who is so nuts about this story that they can talk about it forever and ever…i want to reply to your comments but have a heavy day tomorrow. i’ll get back to you by week’s end, i promise. so many insights and i do want to tell you what i thought of fassbender….

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              • I am right there with you. I think Sev did this post as an outlet for me. 🙂 I read the script, re-read the book, want and saw the movie twice, and watched the Wells verison. Now I am reading Glasskel’s bio on Bronte.

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            • rob,

              finally getting back to you – crazy week. yes, we all want to tell jane to go ahead and live in sin with him. since the story is so modern (modern love – meeting of two individual minds), and rochester and jane are so unconventional in their own time, what would be the harm? but in the end, our jane would not be jane, if she “settled” for that version of herself. both she, and i think he too, would start to increasingly think less of themselves and each other. we have to remember, that even nonconventional people are conventional as their actions either conform to or run counter to convention. either way, they are reacting to the norms of their time, and wholly emersed in them. it would not be like you or i valuing love over all else – we just live in an easier time for that…..

              i think as far as love goes, bronte’s story is beyond her time not only in the emphasis on passion – but is passion born of the mind and character. i would even argue that we haven’t gotten that far today, as a culture. there is so much emphasis on beauty and bodies and sexual attraction – lord, aren’t we all guilty of that with RA? yipes. i know we all love his sweetness, or shyness, but hell, if he didn’t look like that? well, ahem.

              and speaking of looks, fassbender. well. we’ll agree to disagree i’m sure because his looks or charm did little for me – am i agreeing here with servetus? actually, don’t be mad at me, but i almost thought he fit the book’s description of rochester. a very broad forehead, dark, and not particularly good looking. just the eyes. the eyes were lovely. mia i thought was almost too pretty too. perhaps not as pretty as joan fontaine (or as syrupy sweet).

              i think in many ways, i agree with servetus’ friend’s review (the one she referenced in one of her very recent blog entries). i felt the chemistry was lacking between mia and fassbender largely due to the script, which was very poorly done especially in the key scenes between rochester and jane. st. john rivers was not related to jane and not a greek god – all wrong i.e. the novel. the only thing i thought ok, that servetus’ friend did not, was that bertha mason was quite beautiful. in the novel, she was once breathtaking, so a good film version would have to show a beautiful woman worn by the decay of her mind and with the passage of years in such a life situation…

              i actually think no film version to date has captured the passion between jane and rochester so that we eyrites would feel satisfied with the result. i think orson welles and timothy dalton played empassioned rochesters against women who were respectively too sappy/wimpy (fontaine) or too dry/stoic (zela clark). and when you have a potentially good jane, like our mia here, you have a bad script and sorry to say, in my opinion, not as moving a rochester (fassbender).

              finally, and i’ll let you off the hook here, i rather like the transition that began at this time from a religion-based faith to an individual relationship with god. i think when i do get to the point in my old age when i must confront some of these profound questions, i will have a marked preference for an individually architected faith over conventional religion. i just have too many political and moral problems with what damage organized religion has done to human history and to our planet over all.

              btw, i am so impressed that you are able to read gaskell’s biography of bronte. i bought it some years ago, and every time i try to get into it, i fall asleep. it is, to say the least, a hard read. keep pluggin’ girl. you are true and dedicated janian or eyrite or brontean, whatever you prefer….

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              • okay, don’t be that impressed with me. gaskell’s bio is drier than dry toast. i was also put off, when i found out gaskell woundn’t let her duaghter’s read Jane Eyre. but i guess i shouldn’t judge her, because the time being what it was would i have let my daughter read it? i would like to say YES.

                i have to agree, this is a tough book to distill down into a movie format and to date has anyone really captured the book…prob not. that all being said, i did enjoy the film. i saw it three times.

                i did read the script and it was well written, she took the “essense of the book and turned it into a brillant script. i couldn’t put it down and i knew the ending!

                Fassbender is just getting no love from the RA girls!!! Is he? Poor guy. I must tell you I find non-classically men attractive. So for me, he “worked” as Rochester. As for finding RA handsome, you know when he came on the scene he wasn’t exactly the chisled adonis we know have. even a bit pudge and bad teeth, he still made us fall in love with Thornton.

                As for Bertha, I buy the fact that she is attractive too.

                As for St. Rivers there was something just off about that part. I have to say, even in the script. I don’t think that he worked. He sort or played him as jealous of Rochester. I didn’t get that from the book. Zealous — yes. Jealous — no. What I love is that Jane didn’t fall prey to evil or good. She stood her own on both ends. She wasn’t going to budge for sex or God. Go Jane!

                The Wells version is just so campy. Wells — who can deny him? Fontane was ridiculous, what worked in Rebecca just didn’t work in Jane Eyre. I love that they gave her long Heidi braids!

                janian, eryrite, or brontean… all three. i write historical fic and this is my “era.”

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  14. @ Didion — I enjoyed your post. I enjoy reading your blog. I can see how you and Sev are good friends.

    Why love Rochester? He is that Bryonic anti hero, the dark horse, a bit of a bad boy, moody, broody. What is NOT to love about that? As for toying with our girl Jane…I was read it like this he was trying to decide between the two women, the one with good birth and breeding and the other with a keen mind and a strong heart. For him to choose Jane, would be to go against convention. I also took it as he was trying to ascertain Jane’s feelings. And lastly, he was trying to save Jane from getting involved with him bec of the looney wife in the attic.

    Rochester as a misogynist, not sure I agree with that statement. He seemed to hold both men and women with the same amount of contempt, and I find it hard to believe that a man with mysogynist tendancies could ever fall for a woman like Jane in the first place.

    @ Sev — What did Jane get out of her relationship with him? Love. She had a person who saw her for who she truly was. As for Fassbender over acting with the eyes, I just felt an intensity that he was truly present and giving it his all, esp with Mia. OMG I just love her! The eye acting worked for me.

    And finally, as for Fish Bowl. His character there just seemed like that affable fuck up kind of guy that can’t seem to keep it together. He was the hero for that sad little family of women and was relishing that role….until he took it in the wrong direction. I didn’t take it like he set out to do what he did, like it happened. And his action was less about what he did, and more about moving the plot along. I hope that makes sense. I didn’t want to do a spoiler.

    This Rochester, in comparison to Toby Stephens would make for an interesting discussion. They both played him so different. I have a big soft spot for Toby. As for the Jane in that ver, I had a visceral reaction, I didn’t like how she played Jane, she was too much on the silly school girl spectrum.

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    • I actually liked Ruth Wilson in the 2006 version but I really loved Toby’s portrayal of Rochester; it would be interesting to have the chance to compare Stephens’ and Fassbender’s performances.

      On further reflection about Rochester, I think he’s become jaded and cynical from his life experiences, but not completely so. There is still that part of him hoping for love, for someone with the clarity of spirit that he discovers in Jane.

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      • Toby had more humor and a bit more arrogance. He played it a bit over the top. Fassbender was more stoic as @ Didion pointed out.

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        • Well, if it never makes it here or I don’t get a chance to go out of town, I will look into the DVD. I’m convinced I will have an appreciation for it as an Eyrite.

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          • And then again, maybe I am a sucker for sideburns and cravats, too, along with black leather and Guyliner. 😉

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            • Don’t forget Hessian Boots.

              And for guy those gloves.

              I hope JE makes is way to lower AL. You will love it.

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              • Ah yes, boots and gloves. 😀 I just checked The Edge 8 and it’s not on the list of coming attractions. I should be thankful we even have a movie theater–for many years, we didn’t. It’s just that they don’t always show the films I want to see . . . but I might not be the average movie goer.

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            • It’s also visually lovely. I didn’t mention then because I thought it went without saying.

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    • I love 2006 JE and especially RW in the role but I had problems with TS. Look-wise both were wrong but that didn’t bother me that much, however it was a crime to try and turn a lovely redhead into a TDH. If they wanted TS, why can’t Rochester be a readhead? Being dark is not that essential and he still had the freckled skin with the dark hair. I also think that his Rochester was too handsome and too charming, it is too easy to fall for him.

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      • uch — black hair with freckles? you’re right, that is a serious turnoff.

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      • Now what is a “readhead”? A bookish person? LOL!

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        • Well, my hair is blonde but I have definitely been a “readhead” since the early days LOL

          Toby does look his best with his natural ginger-colored hair. Anything too dark doesn’t suit his complexion.

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  15. This scene is pretty swoon worthy. Isn’t it?

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    • I’m willing to add this to the category of “good” scenes from him. Mostly because the darkness obscures his face. But it’s well spoken / played.

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  16. Oh, @Rob, you make me want to see it again NOW. What a great scene.

    And you’ve also made me rethink the very harsh misogyny claim — I think you’re right that he’s torn. But he always seems so resolutely determined to punish himself forever at the beginning of the book, whereas by the middle suddenly he’s enlisted Miss Ingram in some kind of game…I never knew what to do with that. I assumed it was a somewhat sick way of testing Jane to see if she could still love him.

    Wasn’t Fish Tank amazing! It doesn’t, however, have Mia Wasikowska in it….

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  17. @ Did BTW I love that your icon is Rosalind Russell from His Girl Friday. One of my all time fav movies.

    Yes the game was a bit cruel, esp that he made her sit and watch it night after night. TORTURE!!! But on the other hand, it was a great plot device bec how interesting would the book be if they realized they were in love right away? Not so much. The couple has to have some sort of obstacle or several before they can be “together”.

    Again, I always viewed that from as Rochester trying to figure out which one to marry, and if Jane did in fact love him. Plus his game really shows his arrogance, and how jaded he was and makes it all the more sweeter when Jane returns at the end a women of means, as Rochester is blind, penniless, and homeless. Don’t you think?

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    • It did create some delicious tension so that by the time they mutually confess their love for one another it makes me cry every time.

      And you’re so right that by the end, the reversal of positions makes it all the more perfect. Sigh.

      Just started reading the novel again last night.

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      • I re-read it a few weeks ago. The last time I read it was in my 20’s, and re-reading it just shy of the Big 4-0 it resonnated with me even more. Many of the super natural and spiritual elements were lost on me in my youth.

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        • I re-read it again after I got my Kindle for Christmas. As you say, Rob, certain things don’t really resonate with you until you get a little older and more mature.

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          • What resonnated with you with this read?

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            • I’ve been thinking this over the last couple of days, @rob, and I think this time around it was what a complete package our Jane is–so self-aware, self-possessed; certainly capable of deep feeling, of passion, but also unwilling to give up her principles or injure her sense of self-worth. She was a woman ahead of her time and a great heroine.
              Also I truly love the spiritual elements at work in the story and the sense these two are soul mates across time and space.

              There are actually echoes of the novel in Truce, which I was writing during the time period when I last re-read the book and watched the mini-series.

              Also, I was reminded again of how much I disliked St. John. He is certainly very pious and “good,” but he leaves me cold as a character. Jane would have been miserable married to someone such as he, as she correctly deduced.

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              • Lovely response. As a yg women, I didn’t fully appreciate Jane’s strength of character. He never compromissed herself. Ever. As an “older” women, I can really appreciate that.

                Love the ides that space and time are just constructs and that our “souls” can speak to each other.

                And that, communication with the divine and a rich spiritual life doesn’t have to be devoid of passion. There are many ways to commune and to serve G-d.

                Thanks for the conversation!

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                • YOu’re welcome. 😀 I had one of those “breaks” in my sleep–actually Benny and I both did–and thought I would put it to good use catching up on the blogs.

                  As a child who was sensitive in nature and shy, but who felt a strong sense of injustice (and was bullied on more than one occasion–oh, I despised those Reed cousins!), Jane’s childhood travails really spoke to me. I didn’t truly appreciate the strong woman she turned into until later.

                  And that’s what I felt St. John was lacking somehow–a passion for the needs of humanity beyond saving their soulds. He seemed removed from that. As you say, many ways to commune with and serve God.

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                  • Sorry to hear you had trouble sleeping. To experience cruelty and to retain your gentle spirit speaks volumes.

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                    • Unfortunately, the trouble sleeping is all too common . . . at least I got something useful accomplished while I was up. 😀

                      What is that saying, the difficult things you go through in life can make you bitter or better? I hope and choose to be better.

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  18. I did go see it twice. Got a nice eye roll from hubs for it, but so be it. I had to see it again.

    Fish Tank (OMG did I call it Fishbowl? That is so like me to mess up a name), it was one of those films that sticks with you. I keep thinking about it. It was so raw.

    Again, I don’t understand why our friend Sev was not “moved” by Mr. Fassbender. Not even a bit. 🙂

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  19. The eye acting works for me here. And Mia is so wonderful in this scene too.

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  20. I wonder if that’s I end up reading Rochester differently that you both, @Rob and Didion. That is, when I read this book, Rochester isn’t real for me in the way that Jane is. He ends up being this love object that she constructs. He is not, in fact virtuous, nor does he develop virtue — he simply gradually becomes the thing that Jane wants him to be. In that sense, I suppose, too much of anything is too much for me.

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    • For me Rochester changes from the beginning to the end. But I suppose if you compare Jane, one of the most beloved literary characters to Rochester, well, there is no comparision because it really is Jane’s story. Right? That being said, I feel he does grow, he opens up, and I am not so certain that the Rochester we meet in the beginning of the book would have thrown himself in harms way to save the household staff and the crazy wife during the fire if it weren’t for Jane’s influence on him.

      Actually, I find watching the hardened cynical Rochester fall in love with Jane rather poetic. Yes, at the end of the day he’s a broody, moody sort of fellow, I find that endearing, but I am married to one. And moreover, is Rochester supposed to develop virtue? I think Bronte sort of takes us to the other end of the virture spectrum with Rev Rivers. Just as he “sees” Jane, she in turn “sees” him. No?

      Not trying to change your mind, I am just enjoying the discussion.

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      • I may be the most stubborn person you know 😦

        In the end, Rochester has to become worthy of her, no?

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        • Sev you are a stubborn one, but I still love you anyway! Who would be worthy of Jane? She is jsut pretty fantastic. But, yes, I believe he is worthly of her, if for no other reason, than she loves him.

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          • Let me pose this question to you…Rivers was extremely virtuous, yet Jane didn’t end up with him. She ended up with Rochester, so what was Bronte trying to convey with that?

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            • I think Bronte didn’t see him as virtuous — or rather, she saw him as narcissistic. One of the things I liked about the film is that it backs away from that interpretation.

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              • I can agree that Rivers was a pious narissist — maybe a fanatic even, religious zealot. Still love that Jane, didn’t fall sway to that either!

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      • I think Rochester and Jane develop a sort of understanding of each other and are able to see each other, the real person, underneath the outward facades. St. John sees Jane as he wishes to see her, the perfect missionary’s wife. He would have no use for her vivid imagination or passionate nature as a woman; her soul would have withered and died with him over time.

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  21. I should add that I really *don’t* crush on actors. I didn’t on Firth when I saw P&P, and there’s no contemporary actor big-screen that I’ll drop everything to go see. So I may lack the necessary romance in my soul to appreciate Fassbender 🙂

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  22. At heart, I am just a silly tweenie girl who does tend to crush on people, esp if they are talented and handsome. I really have a crush on the director Cary Fukunaga. Honestly actors and musicians don’t really do “it” for me. I’ll take a director, writer or painter anyday.

    @ Angie — you are so easy to love. Honestly.

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    • I didn’t mean to sound arrogant. It’s just true. I also don’t have crushes very easily on real life people, either, and I think I’ve been truly in love only once in my life. Sometimes it takes me months to realize what’s going on in my own emotions. It’s possible that I could watch this again a few times and develop a crush on him, I suppose.

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    • I’m crushing on Fukunaga too. And it’s not just because he’s gorgeous, though that helps too. It’s his extraordinary sensitivity with stories and work with actors — and he’s made two such different films. And I think it’s brave for someone at the start of his career to make a version of Jane Eyre, the most filmed book of all time.

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    • @Rob,

      *blushes deeply* Thank you. I am who I am, for better or worse, I suppose. As for me, I think I must fall in between you and Servetus re crushes–I’ve had them now and again on well-known people, but never a huge amount and of course, nothing like the one I have on RA. Most “celebrities” as Shania Twain would say, “don’t impress me much.” 😉

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  23. We are a pair… the women who never crushes and the other who crushes all the time! LOL!!! Well, I hope The Armitage continues to prove worthly of your emotions.

    I have to say, I did enjoy the film even more the second time. The script was even better than the final cut of the film. I found the editing a bit discorncerting and some of the choices for the dreamy arty squences a waste of time that could have been spent on the “story.”

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  24. Sometimes half the fun of reading a blog is reading the blog comments. Wonderful thread. 🙂 Fans of Mr. Rochester might do well to check out “Jane Eyre’s Husband” by Tara Bradley, available for Kindle. (Sorry for plugging this book a lot, but I can’t help it, it’s awesome! :D)

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  25. @ Traxy thanks for the book recommendation.

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  26. […] points out that the DVD release of Jane Eyre is not far off! After my mixed reaction to this Jane Eyre adaptation, I went so far as to going to the cinema a second time to see if I would change my mind. I […]

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  27. […] She keeps her eye on Armitage’s Spotlight page. She thinks botoxing is cheating. She’s good at puns. She’s left-handed. She likes to wear Birkenstocks. Oh, and in case you’re curious: her […]

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