Sunday, January 24, 2010

Masterpiece Theatre's Jane Eyre (2006)

"After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house--the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart, but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness."


This 2006 BBC Masterpiece Theatre's version of Charlotte Bronte's gothic novel, Jane Eyre, stars Ruth Wilson as the adult Jane and Toby Stephens as Edward Rochester. Beautifully filmed scenes and relatively true to the original novel, I think this 2-disc production captures just the right balance of gloomy atmospheric effects and period details, as well as great portrayals of the dark and troubled Rochester and the quiet but fiercely principled Jane.

I loved watching the interaction between Jane and Rochester as their relationship develops--always conscious of her position as a paid governess and her lowly station in life, Jane maintains a guarded distance from the master. He is intrigued by Jane from their first meeting, and Rochester takes great pleasure in teasing her and attempting to draw out the thoughts and feelings from the prim and proper Jane. Their tete-e-tetes are charming and, at times, humorous and snappy. There was just the right amount of chemistry and restrained passion, and I adored the way a young, fresh-faced Jane positivey glowed when in love.

There were terrific performances from supporting characters -- little French Adele was charmingly pretty and spoiled; Mrs. Fairfax was business-like and loyal to the master of the house; and my favorite, the creepy and sinister Grace Poole.

Here is a quick overview of scenes covered in the movie:

Disc 1
The Red Room
Taken Away
Invitation to Thornfield
Meeting Rochester
Adele's Picnic
Bedroom Fire
Rochester's Return
Ghosts and Games
A Cry in the Night
Leave of Absence

Disc 2
Visiting Mrs. Reed
Return to Thornfield
An Earnest Proposal
Going to Town
Wedding Day
A New Life
Last Night at Thornfield
One Year Later
Coming Back
A New Arrangement

There was one area that I noticed a serious departure from the original text. The most obvious change in character appearance was in Bertha Mason's . The author describes Bertha in the after-wedding scene as animal-like, with a bloated, purple face, and shaggy black hair. Monstrous. However, in this production, we see a sensuously beautiful woman, albeit deranged and dangerous. While the reader of the novel knows that Bertha was a Creole beauty from the West Indies when she and Rochester were first married, her mental state and sickness causes her to deteriorate to a hideously monstrous state. At any rate, that obvious change stood out as a glaring departure from the original storyline.


Overall, a really great production of Bronte's classic gothic novel and highly recommended for Jane Eyre fans. From her terrifying childhood of abuse at the hands of her aunt and cousins, the horrors of Lowood School, and her journey of self-discovery and relationships with Rochester and St. John, this production touched on all the major elements which make Jane Eyre a beloved favorite for me. I could watch it again and again!


Traxy said...

I think time and insanity has made its mark, but we can still see that there was beauty once, so I disagree a little with you on that one. Other than that, fab review! :)

Joanne said...

Thanks, Traxy -- Have you seen other adaptations? I saw another version from 1990's (can't remember the exact date), and the 40's version, but this one is my fav. Just love this story!

Laura's Reviews said...

I agree Joanne - this is my favorite version as well. I like that it is longer and shows much more detail and I think it perfectly captures the restrained passion between Rochester and Jane. And Toby Stephens is a fine looking Rochester!

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »