“Jane Eyre” Retells Classic Brontë’s Tale
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
As any English Lit major can tell you, “Jane Eyre” is an “influential feminist text” written in 1847 under a pseudonym by Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the three sisters whose assorted novels are mainstays in college literature classes.
Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published a joint collection of poetry under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Only two copies were sold.
Charlotte then tried writing a couple of novels, using the same pen name – Currer Bell – “assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because – without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called ‘feminine’.”
“Jane Eyre” was a first-person narrative about an orphan who eventually becomes governess to a young girl at Thornfield Hall, the estate owned by a handsome man named Edward Rochester. She falls in love with Rochester, only to discover that he is already married to a crazy lady who often tries to burn the place down. Standing on her principles, Jane refuses to live with him and exiles herself until that time they can be reunited.
You may be fond of the 1944 film “Jane Eyre,” which stars Joan Fontayne as Jane and Orson Welles as Rochester. That’s not the version that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema.
This new version of Charlotte Brontë’s romantic drama stars young Australian actress Mia Wasikowska as Jane and German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender as Rochester.
You’ve seen Mia as the title character in Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” and as the daughter in “The Kids Are All Right,” that delightful comedy executive produced by Key West’s own Anne O’Shea.
Fassbender you will be seeing soon in Marvel Comic’s summer blockbuster, “X-Men: First Class.” You may also remember him from HBO’s miniseries, “Band of Brothers.”
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga wanted to capture the “spookiness that plagues the entire story.” He notes, “There’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.”
Yes, “Jane Eyre” is a great Gothic novel, a “tale of woe,” a declaration of a young woman’s indomitable spirit. It’s a tale of love and longing beautifully translated to the screen.
The film opens with our heroine fleeing Thornfield Hall after discovering Rochester’s dark secret. The story is largely presented by way of flashbacks. Mia Wasikowska’s performance reflects Jane’s lonely life and the longing for romance.
The cinematography pictures the isolated environment, stark locations shot in a painterly fashion. Derbyshire’s Haddon Hall fills in as Thornfield, a manse shrouded in mystery. Its brooding masculine feel reflects the times, when a young woman must struggle to find her place in the world. Or a female writer must use a male pseudonym to be taken seriously.
[from Solares Hill]