View Full Version : Guide to Jane Eyre Adaptations

02-27-2010, 05:07 PM
As I have often said, and as I keep saying, to me, Hinds was the only actor and his version's writer the only writer, who got even close to the original Rochester. Despite what critics say about him being a shouting brute, I cannot see where that comes from. If there was any shouting brute up to the point of rudeness, it was Stephenson. 2006 was a grand pile of nothing-saying writing. The same writer wrote the latest sadly mediocre version of Emma. Naturally never won any awards for her work.

The reason why the 1997 film is not liked is probably down to its length, and also to the fact that a lot of readers ironically do not seem to read, but rather make up their own story about this book. That Rochester comes across as an arrogant bastard with a lot of charm, is probably... because he is one arrogant bastard with a lot of charm! I love that character, and I have done a lot of study on it. All adaptations are too soft on him. He is not adorable, he is dangerous, arrogant, mysterious, and foremost unpredictable which makes him more dangerous. I cannot possibly understand how people get fooled by his character. Who thinks a liar (someone who actually lies about having a wife and who does not even face up to his mistake) is cute?

Orson Welles I have seen and that was even worse than 2006. He looked permanently drugged. There was just nothing human in the man. If he had been playing Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, that wouldn't have been misplaced, but Rochester is no vampire for God's sake. Joan Fontain was better, but was much too old and looked too much of this world. So did Ruth Wilson in 2006. At any rate, the 1940s film was the best Bertha's way (very cruel and dark), but the worst plot-wise. Typical Hollywoodian plot changes do not appeal to me and do not bring anything more to a film. That Bessy 'had always been nice to [Jane]' was just a plain lie.

William Hurt looked disinterested and not passionate enough. Rochester is incredibly passionate. Too much so. William Hurt did not have that. He was too calm, as was Jane. I have actually said a lot about the concept of Zefirelli's film in another post of mine. Charlotte Gainsbourg acted in her usual way, but that did not work in English. I don't think they saw that until the whole film was finished with music and everything else. Real shame, because the Zefirelli-film was brllliant in its set-up and poetic/symbolic nature.

I think in 2006 people got fooled by effects and mysterious things (the red scarf) whereas there was near to no contents in that adaptation. Not to mention that Rochester was no gentleman, but a working class man in proper clothing. He had no posture, no air, no proper speech, no address, no nothing. It was hard to believe that he had been educated by a governess or in a public school like Eton, had studied at college, had gone to Jamaica and back (an experience not to be underestimated), had got a wife and become unhappy, then had turned back to Europe and had become disillusioned with the world and humanity. It was also hard to believe that his Jane had never seen anything else but the four walls of Lowood. She just looked too world wise; she was too talkative, too much at ease with him as a man.

The couple that did fit their roles, that had address, posture, the right demeanor and the right looks, were ironically Hinds and Morton only. Yes, Rochester was violent. I do believe Rochester capable of that, and he is scary in the end before she leaves (though for a different reason, whether religious or not). Rchester is the typical man who needs to have control or otherwise loses it; he is the typical man who will beat his wife and to then claims he loves her, but cannot help turning violent 'because she provoked [him]'. I do not say that because I hate the character, I say that because he does turn aggrassive at the point where she does not want to take his money, f.i. Also at the point where Mason turns up in the church to stop the marriage. Jane was plain, shy and enough so as to come from Lowood only.

But I suppose people rather want to find Rochester cute and nice to his wife instead of a brute (and a potential one to Jane at that). Once there comes a satisfactory portrayal of the book and the public does not approve because of what they believe Rochester to be, not because of what he is. Admittedly, the plot was very short, but I think that team managed to portray that book better than all other adaptations together. Zefirelli did his best, but saddled with a too passive Rochester, it did not work. The sparkle went out of the whole thing and Rochester turned into this sad and lonely figure where he has to be enjoyable (at first sight) like Hinds' Rochester: 'I won't have any of it!'

Hinds played that role twice by the way. Once a first time on the radio and once on the screen and based on his radio performance, the director decide on him as Rochester. I suppose he will never be valued, although his Rochester was very similar to his role of Bois-Guilbert in Ivanhoe, and the two characters are definitely related.

04-06-2010, 03:41 PM
I understand that there is a lot of emphasis on the Gothic these days, which 2006 Jane Eyre also had, but I don't think it is done in the right way.

They would better have sought something Gothic in the references than to make it a mystery about a red scarf. There is The Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard (very gothic), demons (Rochester is often associated with Satan an Thornfield with hell itself), hell, Sleeping Beauty (the curse that rests on her), Macbeth, heathen religion (Bertha as a goddess of spinning)... Probably even more.

There was no need to throw that all out of the adaptation under the pretence that it had to be gothic. Brooding and bad-tempered certainly does not mean being rude to people. If anything, Rochester should be suddenly and strangely quite loveable sometimes (unpredictable). The problem is that the whole thing was an almost Agatha Christie-type thing about a red scarf. As soon as that was solved, the thing with Rochestr was over, as if that was the whole plot of the Rocheter section. Bertha was not even a great big detail. But I suspect the writer of rampant feminism, and she displayed it to acertain extent also in Emma.

Why does the contents have to go for the minor tries of the writer where there are much much better writers who do a much beter job in taking contents and doing something with it.

But that's enough of a rant :D.

L.M. The Third
04-06-2010, 05:03 PM
Browland, if you would like another review of the BBC's 2006 Jane Eyre, there is one in my blog. It's certainly not as well analyzed as kiki's, but it gives a few more reasons why some of us feel that the 2006 version was badly interpreted fanfiction at best.
I'm not as familiar with as many adaptions as kiki, but I think I'd agree in calling the Hinds version the best. I recently watched the Dalton version, and although a good attempt, I still felt neither of the actors fit the roles.

04-11-2010, 02:55 PM
Oh, no, there was nohing wrong with the red scarf per se... A red scarf is not a bad feature, but... It abandoned the notion of Bertha's horrible confinement, in the half dark all day long with only the light of a smoking oil lamp and the flickering hearth... Without fresh air (no window = no direct fresh air). You imagine how it must have stank that cell... By that window they abandoned that and made amillion times better than it was.

But more to the point, I found that the gothic element boiled down to... only the red scarf. The red scarf was a good feature (had it fitted Bertha's lot, which it only did partly), but the whole gothic thing cannot be summarised in that only apart from a little déjà vue of Disney's The Beauty and the Beast at the beginning.

I did some research about Rochester who seems to have a connection to Satan in Hell (Milton's Paradise Lost). It is not really that he is the devil in person although one can argue that he is possessed, but as all Byronic Heroes he is profoudly narcissistic (as their original author Byron). Believe it or not, even a clynical description of narcism can be matched to him. In that, Milton's Satan and Rochester are alike: they both think that the world will change to their standards and they think they are the norm. They both have to wallow in self-pity until they find their place (Rochester more positivly than Satan, of course).

The Beauty and the Beast is only the nasty man who is hypnotised by outer appearance who is enchanted and then when he loves really, he changes into a normal man again... That was not difficult to do, hence the déjà-vue.

Bluebeard is based on the one line in the beginning about Bertha's storey, but it sheds a light on how Grace Poole fits in the story as both one who needs to make Jane aware of her role as woman (the old hag in the Bluebeard-stories), but also that Rochester has a bad secret which is not so much Bertha herself as his wife, but rather hs view of a wife. She needs to warn her to a certain extent, as she does when she is frequently confused with Bertha.

Sleeping Beauty I have done research on as a whole line that runs through Rochester's story and that ends up in a curse and a sleep/transformation. It takes his innocence away, but innocence in the sense of his thinking. Bertha in that is the one pulls him closer as if she were the one who stears the plot (which she does to a certain extent). It is definitely connected with the moon in the story.

Macbeth is one who interprets the prediction of three witches wrongly and in the end perishes because of his greed and because he believes his wife too much. (please, someone correct me if that is wrong). I haven't done anything on that, maybe I should.