Book to Movie: Jane Eyre (2011)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm always a little worried when I go to a movie made from one of my favorite books, especially when it is a book I have finished recently. If I've put a bit of a time buffer, I am usually not quite so sensitive to the differences as long as they are not too noticeable. However, when they are too close together, I am forced to make comparisons.

Fortunately, with this film version of Jane Eyre, the comparisons were mainly favorable. The film was done by Focus Films, which also did the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. I know a lot of peopl
e did not enjoy that adaptation because "it left so many things out," but I thought it was exceptionally well done. I think one thing all readers forget when a beloved book comes to the screen is that what makes a good book does not always make a good movie. A director's challenge is to make adjustments so the translation will fit accessibly in a 2 hour time frame. Anyway, like the Focus version of P & P, the scenery and music were hauntingly beautiful. The atmosphere was spooky, giving a very Victorian feel to the film.

I also thought all the acting was excellent. Jane was plain but feisty, and it was delightful to see her as a character instead of just reading her thoughts. I also really enjoyed Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers - his intensity and arrogance were perfect for the character. And oh my goodness, Mr. Rochester... isn't he supposed to not be handsome? I am extremely partial to Mr. Rochester as a character anyway, and by the end of the movie I was obsessed.

There were two significant things left out of the film that made me sad, especially because I thought they were elements that could have transferred very well to film, although they would have made the movie longer, of course. These are spoilers for the film and book, so if you want it to be a surprise, don't read the rest of the paragraph. The gypsy scene, in which Mr. Rochester dresses up like a gypsy and questions all the females of his house, including Blanche Ingram and Jane, was missing. I thought this was the funniest part of the book and really shows Rochester's bizarre personality at its best, so I was very disappointed in missing that one. The other thing they left out was Bertha sneaking into Jane's room and ripping her veil in half. That had the potential to be so spooky, and according to my friend Erin it was a great scene in an earlier film adaptation. I was looking forward to that moment throughout the whole film, and was pretty disappointed when it didn't happen.

However, other than these two missing scenes that I was disappointed in not seeing, I thought Jane Eyre was very well done and a movie I would like to watch again. I also want to track down the other adaptation with the creepy veil scene, because I feel cheated of it in this adaptation. I'm going to close with a picture of Mr. Rochester. You're welcome.


  1. Mr. Rochester is smokin'! Now I must see. :-)

  2. I too am very much looking forward to JANE EYRE hitting the UK... alas, we've to wait until 9th September before it's released.

    My sister & I have always been huge fans of the BBC's 1983 version, starring Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester & Zelah Clarke as Jane Eyre. He's the only man for us... although Fassbender is stunning too (I guess we'll have to wait and see!).

    So yes, I can highly recommend the BBC version... it is a little dated with the scenery, but as soon as Timothy hits the screen, you seriously don't notice. Mesmerizing! The detail is so close to the book... it is however, split into episodes and lasts for around 6 hours... but I guarantee that by the end of it, you'll wish it were longer, it flies! Gypsy scene (hilarious) & veil scene included!

    Incidentally, another great film adaptation starring Timothy Dalton is WUTHERING HEIGHTS... beautifully heartbreaking.

    All the best!

  3. Sounds like a great adaptation, I will have to see it.

  4. @Jillian - Seriously. Just to gaze at his face for two hours ;)

    @KingstonTracy - Wow, that is still a ways away! Even though I live in the States I actually had to wait quite a while as well, for a long time it was only playing in the bigger cities. Thank you for the recommendations! I love Wuthering Heights as well and am going to try and find both of those adaptations.

    @Pepca - If you do I hope you like it!

  5. I saw it too and thought it was excellently done, but I haven't read Jane Eyre. I don't understand the fascination with Mr. Rochester though, I found him to be a totally irredeemable character. Why do you love him so much?

    He was ridiculously attractive though.

  6. I absolutely LOVE Your blog. I'm an avid reader as well, so I'm extremely glad that I stumbled across your site. I absolutely loved this movie and I'm quite obsessed with the book. I read your review on the novel and loved that as well. I look forward to following you! :)

  7. Great to hear your thoughts on this film version. I too admit that I was disappointed that many of the gothic elements of the book were missing. But I recently saw Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre's script writer) at the Cheltenham literature festival and she explained that many of these elements, including Bertha's attack on Jane's veil, were actually filmed but then left on the cutting room floor as they didn't translate well for a modern audience - they didn't come over as being believable and so the film makers decided to more emphasis upon other themes. I've put more on this on my blog if you're interested to hear more on what she had to say about turning Jane Eyre into a screenplay:
    PS. Rochester's gypsy scene is also one of my favourites!


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