Yesterday, I went with some of my friends to the theater to catch the new version of Jane Eyre. Ok, so really the only reason I went was because my homeschool music group did the musical back in March. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book, and the musical, too, but I probably wouldn’t have been as excited to see a movie version if I hadn’t been involved in a stage production. But it was still very interesting to compare the movie with the book and the musical.
I thought the movie stayed very true to the story of the book, for the most part. It was nice to see so many moments in the movie that were drawn seemingly word-for-word from the book. And I felt as though it flowed very similarly to the book, so even though I’m sure they cut a lot out, they still kept the essence of the plot intact.
That’s actually why I didn’t like the musical the first time I read the script. They took out so much, and altered what was left, so that it was hardly comparable to the book. It was good for what it was, and I loved doing it, but it was frustrating how much they had changed. Thankfully, I didn’t feel that same frustration with the movie.
The setting of the movie is great. The house they used was suitably old and remote, and they had some gorgeous scenery. And I really liked how they did the lighting, relying mostly on natural lighting which, when using only candles and fires, leaves nighttime scenes very dark, which is great for the creepy/romantic scenes that always happen at night. All in all, they did a great job of capturing the settings from the book.
I felt the casting was great, too. Jane was played by Mia Wasikowska, who I thought did a good job with her character. The character of Rochester was portrayed by Michael Fassbender, who I thought was excellent! My favorite bit of casting in the whole film was Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, who completely stole the scene whenever she was in it. And I was glad to see Jamie Bell playing a mature character for once. To me, he actually played the perfect St. John Rivers.
There were a few things I didn’t like about the movie, though, and this next part will contain spoilers for those who don’t know the story.
My biggest complaint with the movie, was with the character of Jane. Both the book and the musical gave me a very clear impression that Jane Eyre was very dependent on God, and constantly sought His will. But the movie gave me none of that. It was truly very disappointing.
Also, there was a picture depicting nudity that appeared in a couple of the scenes, and I didn’t see the need for that at all. At one point, Jane examines the painting, but apart from that it doesn’t seem to have any impact on the story at all, so it really didn’t have to be in there.
The scene where Jane hears Rochester’s voice across the moors struck me more like insanity than a miracle. We, as the audience, can barely hear his voice, and then Jane begins to stumble away from St. John right in the middle of a conversation, whispering a response. It literally looks like she has snapped and gone insane. I definitely did not like the way they handled it.
The last thing that bugged me about the movie was the ending. After hearing Rochester’s voice, Jane returns to Thornfield and, after seeing Mrs. Fairfax at the house, there’s a very brief scene where Jane goes to the garden and reunites with Rochester before the credits begin to roll. It doesn’t feel like a very good resolution at all, without the narration of getting married, the returning of his sight, the birth of their son. I feel like all of that should have been included.
All in all, I really liked the movie. I thought it was a faithful and interesting remake of the novel. I would recommend it to anyone.