Every time we read a classic book for school, we always watch a movie adaptation (providing there is one). I love to see the characters come alive on the screen. The problem is many times the filmmakers seem bent on destroying the original book. Moviemakers add/remove scenes, plots, and even characters (I’m looking at you, Tauriel). It’s always disappointing when a movie you were hoping would bring a beloved book to life falls short of that expectation. Today I’m bringing you one that actually exceeded my expectations, Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, as I’m sure most of my readers know, is the story of an orphaned girl, Jane Eyre, who ends up working as a governess for a Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall. Over the course of the novel they fall in love, are torn apart by deception, and are reunited in the end. And, of course, there’s the mystery of who or what is living on the third floor of the house. (I am being vague so I don’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it!) I don’t want to make it sound simplistic because this novel is very complicated, from all the twists and turns and trials of Jane’s life to the themes found within the book’s pages, such as hypocrisy in religion and the desire to be loved and to belong. When I was assigned this novel for school, I dreaded reading it. Once I started though, I couldn’t put it down. Charlotte Bronte created a brilliant character in Jane. I loved that she wasn’t beautiful and that she was a strong, moral woman, who although in love, still sided with her conscience. I loved the change and growth in both the character of Jane and in Mr. Rochester. How could a movie come close to depicting this great novel?
I really thought finding a good Jane Eyre movie to watch (with “good” being defined as clean, faithful to the book, and entertaining) was going to be an impossible task. Well, at least there were a bunch to choose from! We ended up selecting a 1983 BBC TV version since it was available for streaming on Netflix. And, wow, were we ever shocked about how good it was! The actress who played Jane, Zelah Clarke, was exactly how I pictured “plain Jane” to look. I did think that Timothy Dalton might have a bit too good looking to play the role of Mr. Rochester, but with that little quibble aside, he did a great job portraying him! It was definitely a longer version, having eleven, thirty minute episodes, but I didn’t mind at all because it allowed for smaller, yet still important scenes from the book, such as the one with the fortune teller, to remain in the series. There were even whole passages of dialogue from the book used in the script.
Here’s a clip from the show, the first conversation Jane has with Mr. Rochester:
We loved this version of Jane Eyre so much we didn’t bother watching any other. I definitely recommend this one to anyone who’s looking for a faithful version of Jane Eyre! Have you watched a different Jane Eyre? Can you recommend a different version? Let me know in the comments below!