Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Real" Books

I hate to do this because I've been writing a lot of posts within short amounts of time lately, and I don't really want to seem annoying, but this FRUSTRATION could not be kept under wraps.

First off, let me give you the background history (as I do with most posts) while I cool myself down. The history is this: I for one, cannot stand nooks or kindles or any other sources of electronic reading. In my personal opinion, it ruins the reading experience for me since I am one of those readers that likes to underline passages, dog-ear corners, and write on margins. Some readers like to keep their books as pristine as possible, but I am quite the contrary. An outside measure of how much I love a book is by how worn it is. The worse it looks, the more I love it. This is made perfectly clear by the two copies of Jane Eyre that I own that are each marked up in their own special way.

However, I'm straying away from the point. Back to the electronic reading. Anyway, it is because of my love of "real" books, that I have thoroughly despised eBooks. I know that sounds harsh, but I'm really afraid that if we get too caught up in the wonders of technology that "real" books won't even exist anymore, and that scares me. Because of this fear, I've purposely steered away from the Kindle, though numerous people have suggested it to me.

Now, my frustration is beginning to come in. I'm beginning to feel hurt by the injustice being done to "real" books. Yes, I'm being a little melodramatic, but I call it injustice because that's what it looks like through my eyes. EBook readers are getting more benefits than "real" book readers!

How did I become so hurt by this all of a sudden? Well, it first came to my notice with Jane Eyre. You all know my relentless obsession with the novel. Before the newest film adaptation came out, I went to my neighborhood B&N and purchased the movie tie-in version, which disappointed me greatly. Other than the movie poster cover and "production notes" consisting of two pages, the book was virtually the same. How is it then, that I found out that if you buy the eBook movie tie-in that you get the whole movie SCREENPLAY with it for less money!!?? What I wouldn't give to have the screenplay! And why is it that an eBook gets it, but a regular book doesn't and yet, the regular book costs more? You may have some economic explanation, but I am thoroughly pis---...I mean, Angry!

And it doesn't just stop there. All this time, I've been waiting for a Jane Eyre spin-off that tells the story from Rochester's perspective. FINALLY, one is here. It's called Jane Eyre's Husband. Well guess what? That book isn't even being released as a "real" book! It's only available as an eBook! What is the world coming to?

Maybe my frustration stems from jealousy of those who are now reading the Jane Eyre screenplay off of their Kindles while I sit here trying to keep the lines in my memory or because someone is now reading Jane Eyre's Husband while I can't even access it. Am I wrong to be jealous? Maybe it's also the fact that I've been offered a Kindle and didn't accept it and am just now feeling the effects of refusing it. Either way, I'm horribly sad.

I know that those of you reading this are probably mentally answering all my questions.

"They put extras on the eBooks to encourage you to buy a kindle."
Yes, I understand that. That's also exactly why I'm trying hard not to fall into the "gimmick" trap. Still, it's hard not to when an eBook is offering a book and a screenplay at a pretty low price.

"Kindles and Nooks save paper."
I am all in favor of preserving the environment, but there are other things besides books that can be penalized for the lack of environmental awareness in the world.

Call me old-fashioned, but unlike most teenagers nowadays, I like talking instead of texting. I like to write freehand instead of type (unless it's for the sake of time). I like to turn pages instead of touch a screen! And not only that, but I'm of the sound belief that the more "digital" our world becomes, the more the intelligence of the newer generation diminishes. For example, a girl in my class today raised her hand and said that she didn't know how to write in cursive. Mind you, this is a tenth grade honors class that I'm in, and this child says she doesn't know how to write in cursive!? My parents taught me cursive when I was young, so I was utterly surprised by the number of kids in my class who weren't taught because the school system didn't render it "necessary." The point is that technology has its definite advantages, but our world needs to find a way of working towards the future as well as preserving the past.

I understand this may seem horribly over-dramatic and that my want of a Jane Eyre 2011 screenplay turned into a multi-paragraph RANT, but can someone please tell me that they agree with me? Am I the only one who notices these things? I need the assurance that someone understands where I'm coming from and believes that I'm making a solid point!

Comment please.

Monday, May 30, 2011

More of "Shirley" by Charlotte Bronte

I have the most horrid confession to make! Due to the natural impatience of my personality, I reviewed Shirley before I was fully finished with it. "Blasphemy!" I know. To my credit, I can say that I was safely three quarters through the book and I had already known a fourth through that it was worth a second read. The error was that I had no idea just HOW good the book really was because it truly comes alive in the last few chapters. Now I'm deeply remorseful because in my last review, I did not give Shirley the credit it deserves.

For one thing, I chose to really focus on Shirley Keeldar as the protagonist, which was a mistake. Actually, Shirley isn't even introduced as a character until you are about two hundred pages into the book (assuming that you're reading the penguin classics version). Don't get me wrong! Shirley is MOST definitely a protagonist, but not the only one. Caroline Helstone is just as much, if not MORE of a protagonist than Shirley. The two become good friends when they meet, though they are quite different.

Caroline Helstone is described as a pretty girl of online nineteen. She's sympathetic, loving, and at some times restless because she longs to do something with her life that she can't quite understand. With her father dead, and being abandoned by her mother, she lives with her uncle, the Rector who is rather distant and chauvinistic. Despite that, Caroline thrives and seems able to form her own opinions. She is rather shy and hesitant about sharing them, however. She falls in love with her cousin, Robert Moore. Though the two share a mutual affection for one another, Robert is too poor to marry Caroline. In order to save his mill from bankruptcy, he must marry a woman of fortune. Caroline is thus thrown into a sort of heartbreak and her health and spirits decline.

Enter Shirley Keeldar. Shirley is a an heiress of twenty-one with a beautiful form and charming manners. From the very moment she is presented, it is made clear that Shirley is an extroverted and opinionated woman who seeks to rebel against social norms. She speaks her mind without remorse and dares to contradict the opinions of her male counterparts, though she does so with a charm that makes her likeable. She and Caroline become immediate friends, finding that they share similar opinions and interests. Caroline is, of course, less outspoken than Shirley, and it is for this reason that I found myself able to admire Shirley more (as did the other characters in the book).

Shirley takes a peculiar interest in Robert Moore, and it is not long before the neighborhood begins to assume that the two will marry. With this new realization, Caroline is again plunged into heartbreak and falls ill. Shirley's governess comes to the rectory to nurse her, and it is thus discovered that she is Caroline's mother. Caroline now grows stronger, recovers, and develops a loving relationship with her mother (who, I must add, abandoned her for very good reasons).

Meanwhile, company has come to Fieldhead (Shirley's home). This party consists of Shirley's uncle, aunt, their two daughters, young son, and their son's tutor. It is then revealed that the tutor is none other than Robert Moore's brother, Louis. Louis used to teach Shirley, but for some reason, Shirley is often cold to him and borders on uncivil. Four suitors propose to Shirley, each of high moral and social standing, but she rejects each of them, which greatly angers her uncle.

Robert Moore has been away to London for the past few months and now comes back with a change of heart. It turns out that he had proposed to Shirley, who rejected him. Shirley knows that Caroline and Robert love eachother, and she knew that Robert was only proposing because of her fortune. Her wounding of his pride caused him to run away to London. Robert now comes back, realizing that he loved Caroline and that his drive to become rich had clouded his morality. Upon admitting this, he is shot. As he recovers, Caroline comes to see him and there a small romance sparks. He makes his intentions towards her clear, but they still cannot marry as of yet because of his financial circumstances.

At around the same time, we find out that Louis Moore is in love with Shirley. The two have loved each other for a long time, but Shirley has been unable to admit it because she afraid of being "tamed." He proposes to her claiming "Tame or fierce, wild or subdued, you are MINE." She accepts despite his low position. Shortly after their engagement, fortunes change for Robert and he admits his love to Caroline, asking her to forgive him for all the pain he has caused her. He proposes and she accepts.

There is more to the story, of course. It is for that reason that I recommend everyone to read it. There are many religious references, political issues, and intellectual conversations that I found very interesting to read within the novel. Caroline Helstone reveals herself to be just as strong as Shirley, though she shows it in rather different ways. The language of the book is beautiful and the symbolism is riveting. Bronte once again uses her pen to create a lot of imagery, describing the settings in great detail. The world of Shirley comes alive before the reader's eyes and leaves you entranced and moved.

Try it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Shirley" by Charlotte Bronte

There is a downside to reading, I’ve found. Every great reader stumbles across the book that changes their view of reading forever. There’s always that one book that is just SO GOOD that it leaves you breathless no matter how many times you read it. As you all know, Jane Eyre is that book for me. I’ve been obsessed with the book for years, but that obsession of course heightened in the past few months since the new movie version has come out. The problem with finding that book that’s breathtakingly perfect is the fact that once you’ve closed the back cover, you read it again…then you read it again…and again…and again. But one day, you close that cover and you realize that there’s this emptiness in your stomach because you know that you can’t read this same book for the rest of your life (as much as you may want to). After months of reading almost no book but Jane Eyre, I had to finally put it down and begin searching for something new to read. And what did I find?


The Brontes have written an array of very good novels, and though I had heard of Shirley, I had yet to read it. I went to the store and bought it, thinking that if it was written by Charlotte Bronte that it must be somewhat akin to Jane Eyre. WRONG!!

It’s rare that you get a disclaimer on the first page of a novel, but Charlotte Bronte gives one right off the bat. She basically says “don’t expect this to be a love story.” It was almost like she was speaking directly to me, reading my mind, because that was exactly what I was expecting it to be. Shirley is of a completely different breed than Jane Eyre.
It’s almost as if the roles are switched completely. In this novel, the protagonist is the independent heiress and it is the males who constantly depend on her, unlike Jane who was dependent throughout most of Jane Eyre.

Shirley tells the story of Shirley Keeldar, a young and beautiful heiress quite the opposite of the small and plain Jane Eyre. I can’t really explain the entire plot without giving certain details away, but the point is that this book was VERY satisfying. No, it was in no way like Jane Eyre at all. Jane Eyre drips passion and temptation whereas Shirley is less romantic and, I must admit, a bit dry in places. Still, there is just enough passion to satisfy the hopeless romantic and it is a great novel that gives one a sense of empowerment. Shirley Keeldar is a phenomenally strong woman who insists on dominating in a world where women usually take the back seat. She is wild, unafraid to share her opinions, and everything about her contradicts what was considered “normal” in her society. In that way, she and Jane are very much alike.

I read Shirley in order to compare it to Jane Eyre, but this book is fully capable of standing alone. It’s definitely worth a second read and I fully recommend it to any Lit fans. No, it’s not as well-known as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but it is just as good and has the same great qualities that both of these famous novels are known for. Shirley Keeldar should without a doubt be on the list of great literary heroines right next to Jane, Elizabeth Bennet, and numerous other great fictional women.

Next stop on the Bronte Express is rereading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’ll review that next week most likely.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Splendor in the Grass

I do have to uphold the bargain that this blog is not written on subjects ONLY within the confines of literature. I think I mentioned this in my "About Me" section, but I also have a soft spot for old movies. I really like the time period from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, with the exception of Westerns, which I openly despise. Anyway, I'm never ashamed to spend a lazy day watching movies on TCM. I've even started buying black and white movies and watching them with my parents (who are in awe at the fact that their sixteen year old daughter is watching movies that were made before they themselves were even born).

Last night, I sat in my bed bored out of my mind. Most nights I'm stacked with homework, but it's nearing the end of the school year so the teachers are beginning to let up. I turned to TV guide and the movie "Splendor in the Grass" caught my eye. Now, WHY would that be of any interest to me? Well, the title is taken directly from my favorite poem by William Wordsworth, so I couldn't help but investigate a little further. I caught the movie at the beginning and watched the entire thing...this movie was REALLY good.

It's set in the late 1920s right before (and during) the Great Depression and tells the story of a teenage girl named Deanie (Natalie Wood) and her boyfriend, Bud (Warren Beatty). The movie basically centers on how teens coped (or struggled) with sexual tension back in that day. Deanie is a poor girl whose parents are constantly telling her to save herself for marriage because "boys want good girls" while Bud's dad is telling him "don't get that girl in trouble because then you'll HAVE to marry her."

 Bud's dad is the overbearing, rich, father who always talks but never seems to listen. Basically, the weight of the entire family is put on Bud because he has to inherit the family business and his older sister went down the wrong path and isn't exactly the purest girl on the block and has pretty much ruined her future. His dad presses him to attend Yale and all the while he has to deal with all this, as well as the fact that he seems to have trouble repressing his sexual temptation.

Anyway, so Deanie is resolved that she's going to stay the "good girl" and she's madly infatuated with Bud, so much so that she admits that she "worships" him. When she says that, you pretty much know that something is bound to go downhill. Even though Deanie is in love with him and he with her, Bud is still constantly irritated by the fact that she won't give herself to him. His sexual tension consequently affects his mood until he honestly just can't handle it anymore. He goes to his dad, and asks his permission to marry Deanie, saying that he really is in love with her, which he is, but all the same the audience can tell that he really sees this as the only way he can relieve himself. His father declines, saying that marrying will get in the way of Bud's future. He then gives Bud an alternative route by basically telling him that he should probably get involved with a "different type of girl."

And thus...everything goes downhill. Bud ends up hanging out with the school tramp and having sex with her. Deanie finds out and goes absolutely insane. And when I say insane, I mean it. She ends up in an asylum where she has to basically recooperate from heartbreak.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you the whole plot breakdown, but this really was a great movie. Apparently it received lots of praise when it came out back in the 50s. The actors were incredible and I was surprised by how palpable the tension was, especially in a movie made so long ago when sexual tension on screen was practically nonexistant. The story line is still relateable to teens in this day and age for the most part. There was something about this film that I couldn't really put my finger on, but it kind of snuck its way into my heart. If you ever happen to catch it, watch it. If you've seen it before, please comment.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jane Eyre: Reunion Scene

(Jane walks over the same bridge she walked over the minute before Rochester proposed to her. She stops and sees him, but the audience doesn't. Cut to: Jane is walking the same path that she and Rochester talked on . Rochester is under the tree that he proposed to her under. The tree has been struck by lightning and is now dead. The viewer now see's Rochester's transformation. He sits, staring off into space. His hair has grown out and he is unshaved. He wears no cravat. He sits restlessly on the edge of his seat, his hand on a cane. Pilot stands upon seeing Jane and whimpers.)

Rochester: Pilot!

(Pilot sits back down. Rochester now hears Jane walking towards him. He turns mechanically towards the sound and looks about him, though he cannot see. He is suspicious and wary.)

Rochester: Who's there?
(Jane doesn't answer. She ducks under the leaves of the tree and approaches him. He turns towards the sound and looks around as if trying to see who it is. Jane has taken off her bonnet. She now drops it to the ground and comes towards him. His hand is gripping the cane. She places her hand on top of his and he utters a quiet and sharp gasp, his hand immediately recognizing the touch. He slowly places his other hand on top of hers.)

Rochester: This hand...

(He feels her hand and mouths her name. Jane still has not said anything. She guides his hand to her face. His breath quickens as he makes contact with her skin. He strokes her face.)

Rochester: Jane Eyre...Jane Eyre.

(He is still unable to believe that she is really there with him.)

Jane: Edward, I am come back to you.

(Upon hearing her voice, Rochester immediately stands. His other hand travels to her face and he feels her still. He is speechless. He lays his face on hers. Jane smiles, her eyes filled with tears.)

Jane: Fairfax Rochester with nothing to say?

Rochester: (His voice is broken. He is repressing tears.) You are altogether human being Jane?

Jane: I conscientiously believe so.

(Rochester's eyes open at her response. She kisses him passionately and he holds her to him. He is overcome by their kiss and is still unable to believe what he hears and feels.)
Rochester: (softly)...A dream...

(Jane rests her head on his shoulder and holds him tightly. She smiles contently and is happy to be close to him again. His hand is stroking her hair, burying his face in it.)

Jane: (whispers gently) Awaken then...
(They stand still, her head still resting on his shoulder. Rochester is fighting hard to repress his tears. His body is shaking as he holds her and eyes blink away tears. He is finally roused to the conviction that Jane really has come back to him and that they are finally together. He heaves a large shaken and passionate sigh and his body relaxes against hers, finally sure that this is reality. They both close their eyes silently, still in each other's arms....the screen blacks out.)

Jane Eyre: Leaving Scene

(Jane opens her door. She has changed from her wedding dress to a plain dark dress. Rochester is lying on the floor outside of her room. He lifts his head at her appearance)

Rochester: (Stands up) Jane. Forgive me, I'm worthless, how could I?

(Jane comes up to him. He holds his hand infront of the doorway and looks her up and down.)

Rochester: (softly) Jane?...No tears? Why don't you cry? Why not scream at me? I deserve a hail of fire.

Jane: I need some water.

Rochester: Of course.

(He lets her pass, but Jane gets woozy. She leans on a table nearby)

Rochester: Jane....

(Her picks her up in his arms and carries her away. Cut to: Rochester lights a fire. It burns and slowly lights Jane's face. He crouches in front of the fire, looking at her, and then stands up to pour her a glass of wine. He offers it to her and kneels beside her chair while she drinks. She finishes it and hands it back to him. He replaces it on the table, still kneeling beside her. He doesn't take his eyes off of her.)

Rochester: How are you now?

Jane: I will be well again.

(Rochester looks at her still. Hesitantly, he inclines his face to kiss her. She refuses him, holding her head away and trying to repress tears. He drops his eyes, stung by her refusal, and then stands up in front of her, looking down at her.)

Rochester: I know you. You're thinking. Talking is of no use, you're thinking how to act.

Jane: All has changed sir. I must leave you.

Rochester: No...no!

(He crouches in front of her, trying to control the passion in his voice.)

Rochester: Jane, do you love me?

(Jane nods, her eyes filling with tears)

Rochester: (softly and desperately) Then the essential things are the same! Be my wife...

Jane: You have a wife!

Rochester: I pledge you my honor, my fidelity--

Jane: (Tears) You cannot!

Rochester: My love, until death do us part!

Jane: What of truth?

Rochester: I would have told you the truth...

 Jane: You are deceitful sir!

Rochester: (sighs)...I was wrong to deceive you, I see that now. It was cowardly. I should have appealed to your spirit as I do now. Bertha Antoinetta Mason was wanted by my father for her fortune. I hardly spoke with her before the wedding. I lived with her for four years. Her temper ripened. Her vices sprang up, violent and unchaste. Only cruelty would check her, and I'd not use cruelty. I was chained to her for life, Jane. Not even the law could free me. Have you ever set foot in a madhouse, Jane?

Jane: No sir.

Rochester: The inmates are caged and baited like beasts...I spared her that at least...(softly) Jane?

Jane: I earnestly pity you sir.

Rochester: (barely audible) no.

(He reaches up to stroke her face. She resists, tears gliding down her cheeks.)

Rochester: Who would you offend by living with me? Who would care?

Jane: I would!

Rochester: (His eyes fill with tears. We can se his desparation growing.) You would rather drive me to madness than break a mere human law?

Jane: I must respect myself.

 (Rochester clenches his hands on her arms.)

Rochester: listen to me...(he runs his hands up to her neck, holding it tightly between his fingers with great tension, as if strangling her. He speeks softly but passionately through his teeth.) Listen. (Lays his forehead on her chest, his shoulders shaking as he begins to cry.) I could bend you with my finger and my thumb. A mere reed you feel in my hands! (Jane struggles and stands up, shaking his hold. Rochester lays his head on her stomach and raps his arms around her. Jane is sobbing now while Rochester continues to cry.)...But whatever I do with this cage, I cannot get at you...because it is your soul that I want! Why won't you come of your own free will?

Jane: God help me!

(She pulls herself away from him and pushes his arms away from her, leaving the room. Rochester stays where he was, his eyes following her desperately.)

Jane Eyre: Proposal

Jane: You're to be married.

Rochester: I see Mrs. Fairfax has intimated my intention to put my neck through the sacred noose.

Jane: Adele must go to school and I must fine a new situation. (Begins to walk away. Turns around) Congratulations, sir.

(Jane walks across a bridge into the wilderness of Thornfield. Rochester behind her at first and then Rochester runs after her. He stops beside her and then begins to walk backwards in front of her, his eyes studying her.)

Rochester: Thornfield is a pleasant place in the spring, isn't it?

Jane: Yes sir.

(Rochester walks beside her again, all the while never taking his eyes off of her.)

Rochester: You'll be sorry to part with it. That's always the way of events in life. No sooner have you gotten settled then a voice cries "rise and move on."...I'll find you a new situation, Jane. One I hope that you'll accept.

Jane: I shall be ready when your order to march comes.

(He walks infront of her again, conducting himself with some sort of eager anxiety. )

Rochester: Must I really lose a faithful paid subordinate such as yourself?

Jane: (speeding up and walking in front of him now) you must.

Rochester: We've been good friends haven't we?

Jane: (Her voice breaks) Yes sir.

Rochester: (His tone of voice has changed. It is now low and serious.) I've a strange feeling with regard to you...as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs tightly knotted to a similar string in you...And if you were to leave I’m afraid that cord of communion would snap...and then I’ve a notion that I’d take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, you’d forget me.

(Jane has been walking in front of him. She stops, tries to master her feelings, and turns around to face him.)

Jane: How? I've lived a full life here. I've not been trampled on, I've not been petrified. I've not been excluded from every glimpse of what is bright. I've known you, Mr. Rochester, and it strikes me with anguish to be torn from you.

Rochester: Then why must you leave?

Jane: Because of you're wife!

Rochester: I have no wife!

Jane: But you are to be married.

Rochester: Jane you must stay...

Jane: And become nothing to you? Am I a machine without feelings? Do you think because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little that I am soulless and heartless? I have as much soul as you and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with beauty and wealth I should make it as hard for you to leave me as it is for I to leave you...I'm not speaking to you through mortal flesh. It is my spirit that addresses your spirit as if we had passed through the grave and stood at God's feet, equal, as we are!

Rochester: (Grabs her) As we are!

(Jane falters, unsure of what to do.)

Jane: I am a free human being with an independent will which I now exert to leave you.

Rochester: Then let your will decide your destiny. I offer you my hand...my heart. Jane, I ask you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal and my likeness...will you marry me?

(She steps back, tears coming to her eyes, unsure what to make of him.)

Jane: Are you mocking me?

Rochester: You doubt me?

Jane: Entirely! You're bride is Miss Ingram!

Rochester: Miss Ingram, she is the machine without feelings! It is you, you rare unearthly thing. Poor and obscure as you are...please accept me as your husband! I must have you for my own.

(Jane's eyes fill with tears, she studies him, unable to believe that he loves her.)

Jane: You wish me to be your wife?

Rochester: I swear it.

(Her tears spill over as the realization slowly comes to her.)

Jane: You love me??

Rochester: (passionately) I do!

Jane: Then, sir, I will marry you!

(She wraps her arms around him and puts her lips on his. They share a long and intimate kiss. Meanwhile the wind starts to blow and thunder rumbles. The leaves of the tree whip around them. They stop and look at the sky. Rochester grabs her hand they run back to Thornfield. He puts his coat over her and while the lightning flashes, they laugh and go inside. Jane comes through the door with Rochester following her. The two laugh euphorically and Jane skips to the stairs and begins to head for her room. Rochester catches her on her way up and she turns around, wrapping her arms around him. They kiss eachother continually. Meanwhile Mrs. Fairfax sees them and looks on with disapproval and bewilderment. They do not notice.)

Rochester: (In between their kisses) Goodnight. Goodnight, my love.

(Jane and Rochester finally part with one last kiss and he exits. Jane looks up and sees Mrs. Fairfax, but is too happy to give any explanation. She smiles brightly and scurries up to her room.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh, Rochester!

 You cannot be a dedicated fan of Jane Eyre without being dedicated fan of the man that comes along with her. Of course we all know who I'm speaking of, but in case you haven't caught on yet, that man is Edward Fairfax Rochester.

Mr. Rochester is the enigmatic, dark, brooding man whose heart is captured by Jane. He's moody and sarcastic. He's bipolar. He's arrogant at times. He's self pitying and overdramatic. However, he's also one of the most beloved male heroes of literature. He has this horrid array of flaws and yet he wins Jane's heart all the same because his passion, romance, and intelligence counterbalance his obvious defects. We love Rochester for his humanity. He is a man of a thousand different complexities that can be analyzed almost a thousand different ways depending on the eyes reading the page.

So how do you then find the man to portray him in a movie? Today I've collected images of the Rochesters from every Jane Eyre adaptation I've seen and will seek to compare them, analyzing their positives and negatives and hoping to come to some conclusion as to who I think is the best Rochester.

*sigh*...here goes.

Jane Eyre 1944: Orson Welles
Positives: Maybe its the black and white-ness of the film that makes Orson Welles seem so very intimidating, but I like it. Welles had a voice that was commanding. The deep undercurrents of his lines really asserted a true sense of control. He really brought out the "master" aspect of Rochester that I sometimes forget when watching other versions. At the same time, he was also able to bring a little sweetness to his portrayal. Some say that he's the best Rochester, even though I don't personally agree. He didn't do the character a discredit, however. As a whole, I was pleased with him.

Negatives: The movie was made in 1944. Even though I do enjoy a good black and white movie (Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, Charlton Heston are all favorites of mine), it's still safe to say that though those kind of movies are a lost art form, they are also dramatically overracted and very melodramatic. You can't turn to Orson to give a modern, more natural portrayal of a Rochester that we can relate to in this day and age. He turned in a great performance for that time period, but that was THAT time period.

Jane Eyre 1949: Charlton Heston

Positive: He's Charlton Heston! I think that's pretty much it for positives. Actually, wait. He has a strong voice too. Ok, NOW that's it for positives.
Negative: Oh gosh, there's a list of negatives. #1: He's good looking!! Too good looking. #2: American accent. They didn't even bother to make the characters go for the British accent. However, it WAS made for TV so I dont think anyone really cared. #3: Yea...waayyyy too overacted, even for the time period. I would skip this version altogether.

Jane Eyre 1970: George C. Scott

Positives: I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by Scott's performance in this movie. I was expecting it to be hideous. As a whole, it wasn't very good, but he had tiny moments of greatness. These particularly came in the scene before Jane leaves Thornfield. He's a rugged man, and that type of ruggedness is something that I always fancied Rochester having. There is a knowing and experienced edge to him that I might even venture to label "worn".
Negatives: Too old. Let me make this fact clear now. Jane Eyre is eighteen. Rochester (on numerous occasions) pronounces himself ALMOST twenty years her senior. What is eighteen plus twenty? Thirty eight. Add the "almost" to that equation and you get this sum...Rochester was AT MOST thirty-eight, maybe thirty-nine to benefit the actor. George C. Scott doesn't fit that category. It adds to the "experience" factor of Rochester, but not to anything else.

Jane Eyre 1973: Michael Jayston

Positive: Jayston brought a more tender take to Rochester. He made him more likeable than other versions and he kind of fits the description of the "grim mouthed" Rochester, minus the sandy colored hair. He kind of brought out Rochester's weirdness. Sometimes Rochester strikes me as kind of a creep because he's so forward and intense when people of that time were mostly reserved. With Jayston playing him, I could see how Jane might be a little hesitant and uncertain about him at first.
Negative: Jayston doesn't really fit the physical build of Rochester to me. I mean, he was described as "athletic" and I just didnt get that from Michael. He also didn't dwell enough on Rochester's brooding side. In fact, he almost laid it down by the riverside. I never saw those "dark thoughts" casting a shadow over his face. He also didn't have the voice for me. As a whole, I still thought he made a presentable Rochester.

Jane Eyre 1983: Timothy Dalton

Positive: Timothy Dalton was a GREAT Rochester. Physically, he was very tall and intimidating across from the girl who played Jane (she wasn't very good). He had the "raven black" hair described in the novel as well as the grim mouth, the athletic figure, and the dark eyes. He played Rochester as both moody, loving, and eccentric. He also played up the mystery of him. With Dalton playing him, we never really understand what Rochester is thinking. He laughs at himself and seems to have this knowingness about him.
Negative: He's gorgeous! He's probably the most handsome Rochester to grace the screen. That's not exactly something that works in his favor in Jane Eyre. He's also highly melodramatic and sometimes downright cheesy. I understand that Rochester is kind of bipolar, but the way Dalton portrayed him it sometimes seemed like he was throwing grown-man temper tantrums. He also didn't have a very good Jane to work with.

Jane Eyre 1996: William Hurt

Positive: Ok, Hurt managed to highlight the depressed side of Rochester. He always had this wistful sadness about him that kind of reminded me that Rochester was in a place where he felt hopeless. He also came across as oddly tender, even though you had to catch it at certain moments.
Negative: He had no chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg. The scene where he says "and so you are" during the proposal, he basically just laid his nose on her face instead of kissing her. He also didn't seem forceful and violent enough to be Rochester. Oh, and he too was too old. Does he look almost thirty eight to you?

Jane Eyre 1997: Ciaran Hinds

Positive: Well, he deffinitely brought the "forcefulness" that was missing in William Hurt. He was deffinitely moody and in some ways fit the physical description. He had very nice eyes.
Negative: He wore the same expression seen above throughout the WHOLE movie until the tail end. I didn't like Ciaran Hinds in this adaptation at all because he brought out Rochester's moodiness a bit too much, to the point that I almost forgot that Rochester even had a good side. He's always yelling at Jane instead of conversing with her. He also came across as self-centered and whiny. He was one of my least favorite Rochesters and it was kind of a shame because Samantha Morton wasn't that bad of a Jane. He took away from HER performance. Oh, and this wins the award for the WORST kissing scene I've ever seen. It was like he was trying to gobble up Jane's face!

Jane Eyre 2006: Toby Stephens

Positive: Physically, he was great. This is the Rochester that appealed more to a younger audience because Toby really made Rochester a very sensual character. He made me realize that Rochester was looking for emotional as well as physical love. He showed Rochester's intensity by sometimes lapsing into deep reveries. Toby Mastered the art of being "pretty/ugly". He had this rugged uggliness about him, but from certain angles I saw what Jane saw in him. He was also the correct age, even though it may not seem like it. I think the problem there was that Ruth Wilson didn't look eighteen. Not his fault.
Negative: The negatives Toby had were not really his fault. The script gave him little to work with and stripped down the novel to almost nothing. I would have loved to see Toby delivering some of the best lines from the book. As a whole, Toby handed in a very solid performance and was the best "all around" Rochester. He brought Rochester's physicality, emotions, and intelligence to the screen. I thought that Toby was the best Rochester until...

Jane Eyre 2011: Michael Fassbender

Positive: To me, Michael did the best job of captivating the essence of Rochester. He had all the components that my mental Rochester possessed. I loved a particular scene in the movie where he was playing around on the piano and Fairfax comes up to him with a cup of tea and without even turning around he just snaps at her and says "KEEP IT!" He convincingly portrayed that sarcasm that Rochester had an abundance of. He was physically AND emotionally forceful. During the scene when Jane leaves, he actually edges on passionate violence when he takes her neck in his hands. He makes it obvious that Rochester physically overpowers her. His expression of passion is also deeply intense. There were so many expressions and mannerisms Michael portrayed that had me thinking "that is sooo Rochester."
Negative: He is deffinitely toooo handsome to be Rochester. Do you see that picture? Even with him being a bit uglied up for the role (complete with muttonchops and later on a beard), his sex appeal still shined through. You are NOT supposed to be swooning every time you see Rochester on the screen, which is what exactly what I was doing. It's such a shame because that was his only downside! He would have been absolutely perfect had it not been for the fact that he's sexy. Still, Fassbender was my favorite Rochester.

Overall, every Rochester brought something different to the table. I think the "real" Rochester had a combination of all these elements. Is there a perfect Rochester? I don't think so. If I could choose the "best" one, it would have to be almost a three way tie between Timothy Dalton, Toby Stephens, and Michael Fassbender. Sadly, the perfect Rochester lives only in my mind. But for future reference, if anyone is thinking of making another adaption, I would want to try casting Richard Armitage. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brontes and the Big Screen

No sooner am I JUST beginning to catch my breath after the newest adaptation of Jane Eyre just took it away then is it almost knocked right out of me again. Apparently, this is the year of Brontes on the big screen because Andrea Arnold (a fairly talented director but mostly unheard of here in the USA) is soon to be releasing a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights. I know that just yesterday I pronounced the novel depressing, but I still loved it even with its obvious downsides.
I heard that a new adaptation was supposed to be slated for 2011 right around the time that I discovered that Michael Fassbender was casted as Rochester for Jane Eyre. From the research I've conducted (*cough cough* Wikipedia is my best friend), it seems that Wuthering Heights had a lot of trouble getting off the ground. It was passed from director to director and a truckload of different actors were supposedly being casted as Cathy and Heathcliff. Surprisingly enough, before Michael Fassbender was Rochester, he was supposed to be Heathcliff. Then another director took the project and Ed Westwick replaced him. Then ANOTHER director took it and wiped the casting clean again. Natalie Portman had been in talks for Cathy as well as that beautiful actress from the Prince of Persia whose name escapes me. She also starred as Tess in the BBC mini-series adaption of Tess of the D'urbervilles. Anyway, I abandoned hope that the movie would ever come out, but sure enough it's slated to appear late this year.
The big "whoa" about this film is the fact that it (like Jane Eyre 2011) is supposed to be taking a younger and fresher view on the novel. Therefore, Andrea Arnold ended up casting the young Skins actress, Kaya Scodelario, as Cathy. She says she then searched high and low for the man to play Heathcliff and came up with a brand-spankin newcomer named James Howson.
Now, here's the thing about James Howson...When I say brand spankin new, I MEAN it. If you google him, you'll find him absolutely NO WHERE. He hasn't been on the big screen before. He hasn't been interviewed about the movie, save one short quote that has nothing to do with anything. And...hold your horses...he's African American!! *gasp*
Now, up until this point I've been trying to keep myself under wraps, but I might as well admit it now: I am African American. When I heard that Heathcliff was being played by a black actor, I was elated because it's the first time in history that a black person will even appear in a period drama, much less play the LEAD. I'm not saying that in a way that says "conspiracy", I'm saying it because I'm a realistic person who realizes that English Lit was written by Europeans ABOUT Europeans and that's absolutely nothing to be mad about either. On the other hand, I'm also kind of nervous because I just never in my life imagined Heathcliff as a black. I know the novel describes him as "gypsy-like" and all, but I was thinking maybe an olive complexion. So the casting kind of caught me off guard all the same. Still, according to the Bronte Blog that I follow, the pre-cannes party showed some snippets of the film and it received mostly positive reactions that particularly showed love to James Howson. I'm excited!!
I'll be updating you on any news I may get about the movie, but right now it's been extremely quiet and low-key. There's almost no information on it, which is why when the promo poster came out I just HAD to share it and even that is pretty mysterious because it doesnt show the faces of the actors and doesnt really give us any insight. It's like they're just trying to keep us completely in the shadows until the movie pops up. I hope this pays off and gives the "big bang" effect. Still, Wuthering Heights is as hard a novel to adapt as Jane Eyre, if not harder. There's so much uncertainty surrounding this film for me. At the same time, I'm still excited and cautiously optimistic. I was afraid for the newest version of Jane Eyre and it ended up wowing me, so maybe this movie will do the same. :)


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lit on a Saturday Afternoon

Most Saturdays I'm out running errands or shopping with my mother. However, today the house is peaceful. My mom is out of town which means no one calling my name every ten minutes because my dad pretty much keeps to himself. I don't really have much to do, so I decided to designate today another lazy day which pretty much consists of snooping around Youtube and watching whatever period drama I happen to have the taste for. It is on days like this when I feel the overwhelming urge to WRITE something. While I was updating my Youtube page, I was trying to list my top 10 favorite books of all time. I'm surprised I haven't done it before! How could a professed lit lover NOT have a list? Anyway, this idea gave me the perfect excuse to write a blog post. Below is the list of my ten favorite books, put in perfect order with the first being the closest to my heart.

#1 JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte:
"Duh!!!" If you haven't figured it out by the clues provided by my previous posts, I'll make it perfectly clear to you now. Jane Eyre is now and will forever be my favorite novel. It's just impossible to replace! The strong heroine, the passionate and unquenchable romance, the mystery, the hidden themes...*sigh.* Every reader comes across one book that just takes their breath away and never gets old no matter how many times they read it. Jane Eyre is mine.

#2 North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell:
I ran across this book last year. I don't remember HOW I came across it...actually, I'm going to take that back in mid-sentence, because now that I'm typing (and thinking), I do remember. It's funny how one action can lead to another. I was introduced to North and South by chance. My teenage tendencies sometimes get the best of me, so I was browsing through Youtube for a fanvideo of period dramas and thus I saw this clip of a sexy englishman kissing his lady in a train station. I immediately wanted to see the movie (which is actually a mini-series), but as a passionate reader I set rules for myself. At the top of those rules is the idea that I don't allow myself to watch an adaptation of a novel without reading the source material first. So I went out and purchased North and South for the sole purpose of being able to watch the movie just so I could see that beautiful kiss. It's a shame, I know, but I'm not afraid to admit it. The book ended up mesmorizing me because it was a realistic love story. People do stupid things and make complete fools of themselves. They're jealous and proud and annoying, but they still end up together...

#3 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje:
I'm telling you...if you have not read this book, READ IT!!! It's not a classic period piece because it takes place towards the end of World War II but goodness gracious, it's amazing! After I finished it I felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness because I didn't want it to be over. It's another one of those books with the whole package. It's skinnier than Jane Eyre and pretty straightforward on the language, but challenging and deeply riveting at the same time. It's the type of book where you really HAVE to read between the lines and catch the undertones or else you'll miss the whole essence of the story. As a whole, this book would be number one on my "Recommended Books" list (if I had one) even in front of Jane Eyre, but this list is based on my PERSONAL favorites so, as usual, Jane Eyre triumphs. :)

#4: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton:
Why do I love this novel? I never could put a finger on it because most of the time novels dealing with affairs are not my cup of tea (for example Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina). However, there was something different about this one. I can't really explain what it is but I think that I just love the symbolism! I read this just last summer and it was a very solid read too. It's not a popular book that most people are acquainted with and it's not the most challenging material on the block, but it is deeply enjoyable. The ending was also very beautiful.

#5: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
Who doesn't love this book? I read it when I was in 6th grade, then reread it again in 8th grade, then reread it AGAIN (required reading for my English class) just last month. If you can read something in school with an English teacher as boring and stuffy as mine and STILL enjoy it then that's saying something good. Not only that, but it's accompanied by a lovely award-winning black and white movie starring Gregory Peck. What more could you ask for, right?

#6: Persuasion by Jane Austen:
Yes, I ranked Persuasion above Pride and Prejudice. Persuasion is just so timeless! In the shadow of Pride and Prejudice it's often terribly underrated but I think it had a little edge that Pride and Prejudice didn't have for me. This book is filled with subtle emotions and I love the theme of "constancy" depicted. These people were separated for eight years and it didn't change their feelings for one another in the least!

#7: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
...It's Pride and Prejudice. How could it NOT be on my list? Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite heroines! Why is it so low on the list you ask? I guess it was doomed before I even opened the cover because I read it right after Jane Eyre. That probably wasn't such a good idea because making the transition from a depressing, melodramatic, oppressive story to a cheerful and witty one just doesn't sit well.
I thought that Pride and Prejudice lacked substance. Of course, it was enjoyable and after I read it again I appreciated it much more. I MUST love it or else I wouldn't have put it on the list. I just have to be in a certain mood to read it. There's no real struggle to me. Yes, Lizzy is prejudiced and Darcy is proud (and vice versa) and there are social barriers and bla bla bla but where's the CONFLICT? I also never got a real good sense of why Darcy fell in love with Elizabeth. She's independent and she stands up to him, but thats the equivalent of saying "I like you because you have a great personality." It's all kind of vague. Still, I loved it. :)

#8: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte:
Lower on the list for the exact OPPOSITE reason of Pride and Prejudice. It was seriously heavy. I had to read this book in chunks and take breaks in between because sometimes it just made me feel depressed. I deffinitely would not recomend reading it on a cloudy day. Still, this book is a work of art in it's own way. The Bronte sisters as a whole were geniuses. By the end of the book, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some people say you can't love Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre at the same time. This probably explains why I didn't really warm up to this book as much as its sister story. Still, it's beautifully written. The language was lovely, which landed it on my list.

#9: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy:
I hated this book so much that I loved it. I know that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, but that's really how I feel about it. I hate this book sooo much! The oppression of the main character makes me so angry! I hated Tess because I felt like she was so weak minded and I hated Angel because he was an asshole that left his wife at the time when she needed him most. This book made me hate the entire male sex. It was great! Great writing, great symbolism, great conflict. It's almost like a Picasso painting. Sometimes you just can't stand it, but you still recognize it as the great work of art that it is.

#10: A Room with a View by E.M Forster:
This found its way to the tail end of my list because it was just a quirky little romance that I found appealing. That's really the only way that I can describe this book: quirky. It's the type of novel that some people will probably hate. There's nothing really special about it. It's got the same basic plot and the same social issues that most classic romances have, but it still manages to hold its own. Also, to be damn honest, I love it because for some strange reason it seemed sooo sexually charged without even being graphic. The vivid descriptions of settings and tones made me realize that the main character was just harboring pent up passion all the time. I guess she reminded my of myself, not in the sexual aspect, but because she was young and vibrant and it felt like she wanted to do so much with her life but she just didn't understand what or how to do it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jane Eyre

I've fully realized that despite my best efforts, I'm writing to no one. I have absolutely no followers and no comments on any of my posts. Why do I still continue to blog then? In all honesty, it serves as an outlet. It's nice to feel like someone is actually listening to me even though in reality no one actually is. Whatever...

However, that’s not the point of this post. The point is to express the fact that I have once again read “Jane Eyre” for the thousandth time. I read PARTS of it almost every week, flipping through different sections and skipping to the ones I find relatable at the time. My obsession with Jane Eyre might be edging on unhealthy. I view it as my own personal Bible. It is very seldom that I do not have a copy of Jane Eyre handy in my backpack, packed in my suitcase, or sitting on my nightstand. I never tire of reading it because there's always something new to discover that wasn't there before that makes me even more passionate about the book.

The problem is that, despite my intense love of the novel, I've still been unable to answer a simple question that EVERYONE always asks me..."Why Jane Eyre?"

It's a very sensible question and at first glance, it seems easy. But I've yet to be able to put it into words. In fact, I've never truly stopped to consider it. Why “Jane Eyre?” There are equally beautifully written English Lit novels out there. Why not Jane Austen? There are many people who faithfully follow her. Why not "the Age of Innocence?"...Why not "North and South?" These are all books that I've read and deeply enjoyed. Yet, why did none of these succeed in surpassing “Jane Eyre?”

Perhaps it's the fact that "Jane Eyre" has been with me since childhood. My mom bought me the abridged version when I was only ten. Even then, I was always transfixed by it. The whole story line was interesting to me, even though completely out of the norm to a ten year old child. Yes, the fact that I have a history with Jane Eyre may majorly contribute to my obsession with it now. But though that serves as a contribution, it does not constitute why I’ve found continuous enjoyment in reading it.

I bought the original version when I was in 13, just entering the eighth grade. I couldn't have come across Jane Eyre at a more perfect time. I was reaching that point in my life where one goes through the infamous "awkward phase." I was a loner for the most part. I was underdeveloped, quiet, nerdy, and as a whole I had absolutely no sense of self-identity. I was searching for the merest shred of esteem and self-efficacy. What better time to read a book about a teenager self-described as "poor, obscure, plain and little?"

I read the book and came to the strong conclusion that, despite the obvious differences in age and time period, Jane Eyre and I led a similar life. She was alone, inexperienced, and feeling the same restlessness and unrealized passion that I was. She didn't know anything about the world. Jane, like me, was just a teenager finding her way around the playground of life.

I've read Jane Eyre multiple times since then and seen every adaptation. I've reviewed the newest one. But it was upon seeing this new version and rereading the wrinkled book filled with dog-eared pages, underlined sentences, and scribbled margins that I realized "Why Jane Eyre."

But it wasn't through rereading "I must have you for my own" or "reader, I married him." It wasn't by imagining Edward Rochester’s voice in the romantic lines that I had always held dear to my heart. It was through the dead end of Chapter 27 when Jane Eyre leaves. It’s when her heart is filled with sorrow and her spirits are at their lowest.

And why does that matter? Because up until this point, Jane Eyre was a romance to me. Yes, I always put up the argument that I like Jane because she's "independent", but the true focus of my obsession was the love story that, to me, had always served as the core of the novel. No.

"Why Jane Eyre?"

Because Jane Eyre is a role model to me that no nonfictional character could ever be. I live in a world where I'm constantly taught to chase love down, find it, and embrace it. People always emphasize that "love is stronger than anything." Jane proves otherwise. Jane Eyre makes a mockery of those words by saying that her will is stronger than anything love can throw at her. That's why Jane Eyre. I've read countless other romances of English lit. But in not one of those novels did the heroine choose to walk away when the man she was in love with was lying at her feet, begging her to stay with him and succumb to a life of immorality.

"Jane Eyre" stands out in a crowd of timeless literature because its main character is not dynamic. At least, not in the normal sense of what a dynamic character is. Elizabeth Bennet was forced to humble herself and admit to her prejudices as well as accept Mr. Darcy with all his proud flaws. Jane does not need to humble herself, but rather learns to build herself up and acknowledge her worth. She inspires Mr. Rochester to rise to her standards.

Margeret Hale has to question her previous opinions and learn to acknowledge her vulnerability. Miss Eyre never questions what she in her heart knows is right, even when it may require her to put her selfish desires aside. She never acknowledges vulnerability as an option and fights it even when Mr. Rochester is trying to wrench it out of her.

Countess Olenska agrees to an affair and by the time she backs out, the sin is already committed. Jane refuses to even commit the sin. She would never risk her moral integrity. Her passionate nature bends toward Mr. Rochester, but it also gives her a strong will and desire to respect herself.

Jane Eyre is not merely independent. That word is an understatement. Independent is having your own opinion. It’s being able to pull out your own chair and open doors for yourself. Jane strikes me as indomitable. Jane is mighty. She recognizes that she has worth even when those around her don’t see it. When she receives strong persuasive arguments from the man she loves saying “what would it hurt to live with me?” her conscience screams “I must respect myself!” She does not allow herself to be changed. What I love about Jane Eyre is that she laughs in the face of a chauvinistic, hierarchical world and says "This is who I am and I have no intention of changing. Deal with it."

Jane Eyre is the type of woman I aspire to be.

That’s why “Jane Eyre.”  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jane Eyre 2011 Review...

Edit May 16, 2018: For updated and added reviews and content, visit my new website Lit Lovers & Corset Laces

WARNING: If you don't want any spoilers, then I advise that you go no further in reading this review...I just couldn't help but give specific examples and lines :)
I'm an avid Jane Eyre fan. While other teens have become Twilight junkies, the only book I've ever been completely addicted to is Jane Eyre; to the point that I read it almost every month. So imagine my excitement when I found out last year that the 2011 adaptation was being released..

As a Jane Eyre fanatic, I'm very picky about how films portray the novel, and my approval isn't easily won. I've seen every version starting with the Orson Welles 1944. I couldn't really criticize that version using my modern standards, so I always thought that considering the time period it was done well. There have been multiple versions released to the big screen and TV since then. I think the most popular of those have been the 1983 starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke, the 1997 version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton, the 1996 utilizing Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, and lastly the 2006 with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

...I was fully impressed by NONE of these versions. Gasp if you want. Not to say that none of them were good because I was actually in love with the 2006 for a very long time; but I found good and bad points in each one and none of them really satisfied my true vision of "Jane Eyre". The 1983 stuck close to the book as far as dialogue, but it was dry in places where passion should have been exuded and over-dramatic in scenes where emotions should be subtle.
The 1997 wouldn't have been that bad if it had not been for Ciaran Hinds screaming his way through most of the movie. Hello, just because Rochester was moody and cynical does not mean he was always yelling! The 1996 was a degree better but I personally thought both Rochester and Jane were boring and monotonous. This hurt me to the core because I love William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg as actors, they just didn't fit as Rochester and Jane.
 All in all the 2006 version came closest. Because of it being a lengthy adaption, almost every detail remained completely in tact and the chemistry between Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens made my heart flutter. There was but one downfall: the dialogue was so dumbed down that it didnt even seem like it was taken from the novel. I don't know about you, but to me that is a HUGE downfall, seeing that it is the language that Bronte infuses into the novel that captures the reader.

So there are my criticisms of the former adaptions. Yes, I know that there have been more, but most were too horrific to mention and this review is already becoming long enough. Many of you may be pointing your mouses to the little red "x" in the corner of your screen because of what I've just said. I know my judgment tends be harsh. That being said, I wondered if I would ever find an adaptation of Jane Eyre that would stir my heart in the same way that the book does. It didn't have to be PERFECT, but it damn sure had to be close. I saw the trailer of the newest version and thought that this one would be taking a gamble. I doubted that it could be the one to uproot the 2006 from first place and actually serve as a definitive version of the novel.

However, ladies and gentleman, I was utterly wrong in that assumption. This movie is a MUST SEE. It has its good and bad points like every version, which I will elaborate on, but as a whole it is the best version I've seen so far. This movie captures the essence of the novel in the largest and smallest of ways. I did not write a review at first because I wasn't sure if I wasn't seeing what I wanted to see in the movie. Just to be sure, I went to see it a second time after all my excitement had worn off. I got pretty much the same results, and so now I choose to give my review.

The first thing that immediately jumped out to me when I saw the movie was the casting choice. At first glance, I had my doubts about Mia Wasikowska. In the clips supplied by Youtube, she seemed kind of expressionless and a bit too reserved to project the character of Jane Eyre. Yet, Mia delivered. Actually, she did more than deliver. She completely embodied Jane. She was able to portray repressed emotions through her eyes, and I as a viewer sympathized with her. She exuded the strength and independence that I always imagine Jane having while also showing the more vulnerable, tender sides of her. I got a different take on Jane through her performance. Yes, Jane is strong willed, but there is also a child in her that is somewhat reserved and unsure of herself in many aspects. Mia shows the process of Jane's maturation. We see her go from that hesitant girl to a strong woman. Perhaps this idea of maturation was helped by the fact that for once, Jane actually looks eighteen, which seems to be an age other actresses just can't get right in previous versions.

Now, forgive me for being a swoony female, but we ALL know that the success of a "Jane Eyre" adaption is for the most part measured by its Rochester. The Jane may be very well played, but if you have the wrong man playing Rochester it takes away from Jane herself because the two are supposed to be interconnected. It is for this reason that I took great care in inspecting Michael Fassbender's performance.
 Rochester is not an easy character to play. He's brooding, sarcastic, and mysterious. Sometimes he even borders on eccentric. We never really know what goes on under the surface until it's actually revealed to us. When I first saw Michael Fassbender was casted, my immediate reaction was "NO!" Why is that? Because he's freaking GORGEOUS! How could Hollywood insult the very novel by inserting another copy/pasted pretty boy into the movie to play one of the most controversial and internally tormented byronic heroes in literature? But boy, was I wrong. From the moment he fell off the horse, I knew that Fassbender was going to be something great, and that feeling only amplified as I watched him more.
Michael Fassbender absolutely BLEW me away as Rochester. When we first meet him, he plays Rochester as a jackass. He's moody, arrogant, and sarcastic. What's great is that this is how Rochester is SUPPOSED to be! He's an asshole. Fassbender masters the role of Rochester by showing his steady transformation from the arrogant master to the man in passionate love. His facial expressions are on point in every scene. We can see Rochester slowly peeling away Jane's layers while also allowing Jane to peel away his. The book always refers to Rochester as so passionate that he edges on "dangerous", and Fassbender brought that kind of passion to the screen without making it over-dramatic. If you haven't seen the movie, then you'll know what I mean by the time you do. I could go on and on, but the point is that Fassbender IS Rochester for me. Hands down.

 Fassbender and Wasikowska had natural chemistry on screen that built as the plot progressed. There were scenes between them that brought tears to my eyes (which does not happen often). Both actors created this natural playfulness between the characters through body language, eye contact, and facial expressions. The simplest scenes were made into the most beautiful; an art that has been lost in Hollywood lately. There was one scene in particular in which there are only about four lines and yet Mia and Michael turned it into one of the most tender moments in the movie.
Rochester: Jane Eyre with nothing to say?
Jane: Everything seems unreal.
Rochester: I am real enough.
Jane: You, sir, are most phantom-like of all.

The supporting cast was as sound as any. Jamie Bell gave a younger take to St. John. In this movie, he and Jane have these awkward moments of eye contact that show St. John might actually have a little crush on her. Jamie made St. John more likeable which in turn established him as more of a foil and rival to Rochester. However, he also kept the basic dettached coldness that is also required of St. John so by the time he proposes we know who Jane is really supposed to be with.
Dame Judi Dench was marvelous, as usual. There's not much you can criticize about her. She gave Miss Fairfax a maternal edge and didn't make her too annoying or "simple-minded." I loved her.
Sally Hawkins also turned in a credible (albeit small) performance. Mrs. Reed was really a sweet woman on the outside, it was just that she was wicked when it came to Jane.

The casting was amazing, but they wouldn't have been half so much had it not been for the fact that Moira Buffini created a beautiful script. The dialogue between the characters, though condensed, stayed faithfully true to the book in almost every circumstance. For "Jane Eyre" fanatics who are obsessed with certain lines in the book (as "Jane Eyre" fans are prone to be), I'm sure that you'll find most of those lines in the movie. This is also the first adaption that actually uses the true Yorkshire accent instead of the usual prim and proper British accent.

Cinematography: Absolutely beautiful. The darkness of the whole setting really emphasizes the gothic elements present in the novel and I found it intriguing to watch how the lighting changed based on Jane's emotions. There are sweeping views of landscapes that emphasize Jane's isolation on the moors.
Adriano Goldman made the setting a character of its own, which is very important, because Thornfield itself almost serves as an independent character.

Soundtrack: When you have Dario Marianelli, it's hard to go wrong. Mark my words, this soundtrack will deffinitely be in talks for the Oscars. Using raw violin samples and subtle piano solos, the score helped the audience feel the same sentiments that Jane herself was feeling. It also flows so effortlessly that it doesn't overshadow the performances but rather finds a mold in them.

Other Positives:
    Though the plot left much to be desired, other very small details were included in this version that stayed extremely true to the novel. The costumes were perfect, the script was VERY faithful to the book, and while watching the movie I found myself matching certain details to quotes in the novel. I also liked how this movie managed to make the story still be told in first person without using voiceovers. There are many moments where the camera shoots directly from Jane's angle, such as when she's looking through windows, or when she first comes to thornfield. I still got the "first-person" feel, because I saw things through Jane's eyes without constantly having to be alerted by a voiceover. (Some people enjoy voiceovers, but I don't particularly like them.)


No one likes to sit in a movie theater for much more than two hours, which gave the film a serious disadvantage. There were many key scenes in the plot that were cut out no doubt to save time, but which hurt the overall impact of the story. A lot of scenes used in the trailer were actually taken out of the movie, which disappointed me because it made the plot feel a little choppy and rushed.
For example, no explanation is given as to who Adele actually is or Rochester's experience with her mother. That conversation serves a stepping stone in the relationship between Jane and Rochester, and without it their relationship goes straight from "do you think me handsome?" to "I knew you'd do me good the first time I met you." It feels like Jane and Rochester's relationship wasn't given a lot of time to develop. Blanche Ingram is also not really utilized that much. She appears in two scenes to project the idea that "hey, Jane is supposed to be feeling jealous", but she isn't established as a true rival. Also, a little more emphasis on Bertha's presence would have been great because when she was finally revealed, it didn't really feel as climatic as I would have liked.
To me, these are the only setbacks in the entire movie. Yes, they are major setbacks, but the movie was still utterly beautiful without the missing scenes. Not only that, but I'm not really worried about it because I'm sure that deleted scenes will be on the DVD whenever it's released and I fully intend on purchasing it. It turns out that Cary Fukunaga's director's cut was 2 hours and 30 minutes whereas the final movie was only an hour and 55. Just 15 more minutes would have almost made the movie impeccable. The lack of development in Jane and Rochester's relationship is easily forgiven because the performances are so strong that you learn not to begrudge them.
Trying to look from the perspective of other Jane Eyre fans, I realized that the reunion scene may serve as a negative to some. It was abrupt and didn't really expound on the "happily ever after" theme. Personally, this scene didn't disappoint me in the least. It's the type of scene that depends on the taste of the viewer. More screentime between Jane and Rochester would have been nice, but I think that the black out basically gave us this point: that Jane and Rochester are now together and nothing else really matters. Jane is telling Rochester to wake up from his "dream" and the black out tells the audience to wake up from theirs (because, let's face it, this movie felt like a perfect dream to me). I could easily forgive the fact that the scene took place outside instead of inside with the glass of water because Cary Fukunaga came up with the brilliant idea that Rochester would be sitting under the ruined tree that he proposed to Jane under. It all struck me as very symbolic and subtly romantic. Not only that,  but the emotion from the scene (despite its brevity) stayed with me as I exited the movie theater, went to bed that night, woke up the next morning.. The words echoed in my head in every spare moment.

Some who have seen the movie may have different opinions. This is the type of movie that each Jane Eyre fan will digest differently, so I can't ENSURE that you'll enjoy it because most likely my taste is different from yours. The key to watching it is to put aside all your preconceptions and strictures. If you go into the movie making a mental checklist of things that you don't like or things that you EXPECT, then I'm pretty sure that you're going to find yourself intensely miserable and miss the whole point of the movie. I know it's hard to push your judgments to the back of your mind, but that's really the only way you can enjoy this version. You can't compare it to the multiple miniseries' that have come before it because it stands alone and only had a 2 hour gap to work with. All in all, this movie was in no way perfect, and I don't want you to exit my review with that impression. I wish it HAD been a miniseries, though, because if it was then it really would be perfect to me.
Grade: 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
As a whole, this movie blew away all my prior doubts and suspicions. I don't know about you, but I have found my "favorite" version of Jane Eyre. I realize that many will not agree with me. Some people hated the movie. Others were in that place in the middle where they weren't sure what to think. As for me, all I could think of as I exited the movie theater and went to sleep that night was...
                                                                     "This is a dream."
                                                                      "Well then awaken."