Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Which is the best "Jane Eyre"?


Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre (2011)

By my count (according to Wikipedia) there have been at least 28 motion picture and television adaptations of Jane Eyre (my favorite novel of all time).

I honestly can't remember how many of those I've seen, but I know it's been at least 3 or 4.
The most recent features Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester. I happen to think Mia is the perfect Jane. Somehow she manages to combine the plainness of Jane with a luminous near-beauty that makes it very understandable that Mr. Rochester could fall for her.

Michael Fassbender has been called the sexiest Mr. Rochester ever, and that's probably true. Fassbender can't help but be sexy; he's inherently so.



If Mia Wasikowska is the perfect Jane, though, I actually think we've yet to see the perfect Mr. Rochester. Has any adaptation really been true to how Charlotte Bronte described Edward Rochester--his black hair and almost-black eyes?


Mia Waskikowska as Jane Eyre--the perfect combination of plainness and beauty

George C. Scott as Rochester, Susannah York as Jane--not buying it!

I especially couldn't buy the 1970 version starring George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester and Susannah York as Jane. George C. Scott? Really? In the book, Mr. Rochester is about 38 years old. If Michael Fassbender was too young for Mr. R, Scott was too old!

What do you think? What's your favorite movie or television adaptation of Jane Eyre? Share, please, and tell me why!

16 comments:

Corinne said...

Hi Cindy....I follow you on Twitter. My favorite book ever is Jane Eyre. I haven't seen the latest movie version of it, but after seeing a few others, the one made in 1944 with Orson Welles has been my favorite. By the way he was born in Kenosha, WI.

Barbara H. said...

I saw one version when I was a child that had Elizabeth Taylor as Jane's friend in the orphanage who dies, but that's about all I remember of it.

I saw another one version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton some years ago, and I liked it ok, but it wasn't my favorite.

Then I saw one fairly recently with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson and loved it. It was the first time I'd seen humorous exchanges in it -- all the other versions seemed so heavy and dark. It was after seeing that production I HAD to read the book, and it became one of my favorites as well. Jane thoughts on marriage at the end of the book are some of my favorite book quotes.

Cindy Swanson said...

Very interesting comments, ladies!

Eve Marie Mont said...

Jane Eyre is my favorite classic novel, and the best movie version, in my humble opinion, would definitely be the Toby Stephens version. I agree with Barbara--I loved the humor between Jane and Rochester. I felt I was really watching them fall in love. The new version was beautiful and atmospheric, but it left me a little cold. I didn't feel the chemistry between Wasikowski and Fassbender.

Cindy Swanson said...

Well Barbara and Eva Marie, it looks like I need to find that version and watch it! :)

Allie Von Trapp said...

The only film adaptation I've seen is the 1996 William Hurt Jane Eyre. I remember liking it a lot and crying in the end. :) Confession: I haven't read the novel! I'm a huge classics fan, and I can't believe I haven't read it.

That's it! I'm picking it up next!
:D

Alice said...

Oh Cindy, you haven't seen the Ruth Wilson/Toby Stephens version yet? It is miles and away my favorite, and I am extremely picky about this book since I love it so.

I've seen 3-4 film versions of JE, but one of the main things I love about that version is that it's a mini-series rather than trying to cram the whole story into 2 or 2 1/2 hours.

Then there's...Toby Stephens.

The mini captures the atmosphere, has great locations, Ruth is a wonderful Jane, and the other actors are excellent, too, plus they take enough time so they're not skimping on key scenes.

Also there's...Toby Stephens.

You must see it!!

LitLover said...

Well I (personally) thought that Michael Fassbender was the perfect Rochester. Yes, he was very handsome, but I always have to remember that what we consider handsome today was not considered handsome then. Feminine men with fair complexions and rounded, soft features were considered handsom and Rochester is athletic and masculine. I also think that Fassbender nailed Rochester's personality SPOT ON. He shows just how brooding Rochester is and when he pries into Jane during their second conversation, he brings out the kind of weird side of Rochester. The thing is that you can't find a perfect Rochester OR Jane because every reader has a different image of what that is.

hopeinbrazil said...

Cindy, I've seen a dozen film versions of Jane Eyre and my favorite (the most believable) Rochester was George C. Scott (TV version 1970's). The movie is available on horrific DVDs and doesn't show the beauty of the original film.

wxroz said...

I just finished watching the latest Jane Eyre, with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I was a little disappointed. Like other commenters, my favorite Jane Eyre movie adaptation is the mini series with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens. It has a wonderful script, and the connection between the two characters is developed well. There is also humor in it, which I think reflects the banter in the book. If you haven't seen it yet (I know this post is a bit old, so you may have seen it by now!) you should check it out!

Anna said...

I loved Fassbender as Rochester. He did a great job. That was the perfect Jane Eyre movie, in my opinion.

hanginbyathread said...

I must agree with hopeinbrazil, May 7--I can't forget GC Scott's Mr. Rochester. He seems to fullfill the description and is palbably torn by his situation. I agree they've ruinen/unrestored this TV movie (I think?) and I wasn't thrilled with susanah york. "Plain" WTF? Is this nuts? Anyone else think GCS at that time really nailed it?

Miss Daisy said...

I have seen about 4 movie adaptations of Jane Eyre and completely fell in love with the story! I would now like to novel to get the "real story" :)
Is there a particular edition of Jane Eyre that anyone prefers over another? If I'm going to take the time to read Jane Eyre I would like to read the best edition! :)
Thanks

BlueVelvet said...

The jane eyre book editions don't change Charlotte Bronte's words. They are just published at perhaps a slightly different time, and I think some of the "forwards" in the front of the book might be a little different. It is my favorite book of all time. Just the best story ever! Sne manages to save her own emotional/mental life of herself as well as another. No small feat! Especially in the time period the book was written and where it took place. (1840's England). I have watched portions of most of the movie adaptions and I just can't find one I like except 2 or 3, but there was only one that I loved. The 1997 samantha morton/ciaran hinds I liked. She was the perfect jane. Closest to the book. Ciaran hinds screamed and yelled too much and I think the rochester in the book was a little more kind to jane a few more times than in this very short tv version. But I enjoyed it anyhow. Not sure why. Just did. That was my number three. My number two was the 2011 with mia wasikowska and michael fassbender. Very pretty costumes and good acting. Once again though, a regular movie length (anywhere between 90 and 120 minutes is just not long enough to accurately portray some important aspects of the story). So that makes my number one the masterpiece miniseries aired on PBS my very favorite. Most everything was there, (a few things were changed, but not many). Also time frame of just a few events were changed, but I found that in most of the other adaptions too. I thought the acting was great and the chemistry was awesome, at least compared to other adaptions. You could really tell they loved each other. Ruth wilson was a great jane. She showed jane's passionate side very well. Could have been slightly more reserved in some scenes. And Toby Keith! Need I say much? I thought he was perfect! He was handsome, which viewers just love, but they portrayed him as not being classically handsome as a stereotypically genteel gentleman of 1840's England (handsome back then in England was thin, tall, non-muscular, fair-haired, light-eyed, and a longish delicate, prim face). Mr. Rchester in this movie was like the book: more substancial body type, dark eyes and hair, not fair-skinned, strong features- not long, delicate and prim in the face. I thought he was HOT without really deviating from the book. And Ruth too. Very plain in a lot of shots, but kind of glowing and pretty in a simple way. I thought this adaption portrayed a lot of emotion and I both cried and laughed. I wish I could find my own Rochester as portrayed in this movie! So sexy. But alas, it will never be for me, and not for many other women either lol. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Check it out if you haven't. Have an open mind and just enjoy it for the good movie it is, without constantly comparing it to the book. None of the adaptions truly capture all of the book. They can't! They are MOVIES. And nothing will EVER compare to the book!

kate rick said...

i loved the Scott/York version as a young girl - the music (from a young and then unknown John Williams) is stunning and sorrowful. The film is s little dated but both Scott and York are superb actors and the piece is soulful atmospheric and heartrending.

This was going to be a tough one to beat for me - BUT - the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson version knocked my socks off!!!!

(though in the most recent incarnation Fassbinder was GORGEOUS and sexy - however, Mia Wasikowski was UNDERwhelming to say the least - didn't believe the two of them for a moment - Fassbender seemed more like a pedophile Wasikosski seemed so young and passionless)

The Wilson/Stephens version had HEAT HEAT HEAT and an animal passion that i had heretofore only attributed to Wuthering Heights - WOW! and with their clothes on! Holy Moly! LOVED EEET!!!!!!!!

Oh and though i love Charlotte Gainsborugh - Hurt as Rochester? ICK!

Yun Yi said...

I watched the several versions of films Jane Eyre, I must say, 1970 TV movie, G.Scott $ S.York is the best. Though both appear to be older than they are in book, but the mental age fit seamlessly! That movie is a little short, but captures the soul of the book, by my opinion.

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