Thursday, June 30, 2011

Persuasion 2007 Review

After rereading Persuasion, I was temporarily sidetracked (as you can tell) by the appearance of Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre adaption online. However, I haven’t forgotten my promise to continue my Persuasion week. After the review of the novel, I left you with a taste of its newest adaption. There are two other adaptions as well that may or may not be reviewed (I haven’t decided yet) depending on how I feel after revisiting them. I’ve revisited the 2007 for the second time now and since it is, after all, the version that I referred you to, I think it only fair to review it for you.

I don’t think that any of you need a recap of the plot, so in order to save time I think I’ll just plunge headfirst into the review of the movie (if I may call it such). The 2007 is a healthy two hour adaption starring Sally Hawkins as Miss Elliot, the twenty-seven year old destined for spinsterhood and Rupert Penry-Jones as the handsome and passionate Captain Wentworth.

Whenever I watch an adaptation of Persuasion I really like to focus on the two leads. If they aren’t casted correctly, then why does the rest even matter? The story is basically built around the chemistry between the two. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about a lack thereof. Sally Hawkins was a great (though I’m sure perhaps a little older) Anne Elliot and Rupert nailed my image of the look and manner of Captain Wentworth.

Here I might add that I’m glad I saw Persuasion before I saw Jane Eyre. I remember watching the ’06 version of Jane Eyre and then somehow stumbling on the early adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and all I could think about when watching Tara Fitzgerald on screen was “MRS. REED!” Thankfully, I saw Sally Hawkins as the humbly charitable Miss Elliot before she turned into the heartless female dog that ruined Jane Eyre’s childhood.

Sally Hawkins played Anne Elliot just the way I had imagined her. Though she is mature in many aspects, she is always unsure of herself. After allowing herself to be persuaded by Lady Russell when she is nineteen, Anne’s confidence is seriously shaken. It only gets worse as her beauty declines and her age increases. Though she’s quick to take control in meeting the needs of others, she isn’t assertive enough to put her foot down and take care of herself. Sally captured that timidity better than I expected her to. It’s often hard for older women to play girlishly bashful characters.

Oh, Captain Wentworth! Don’t we all want one? He seems to be the perfect male lit hero. He has all the essentials. Who could do justice to this handsome, ardent, rather embittered, and yet gentle character? Rupert Penry-Jones, that’s who! Every once in a while you find an actor that fits his character SO well that you feel a sense of sameness. For example, Richard Armitage IS John Thornton. Colin Firth IS Darcy. Gregory Peck IS Atticus Finch. These are the actors that inhabit their roles so fully that we can’t separate them from the people they play. Now I add Rupert to that list, because he IS Captain Wentworth. (That statement is always open for discussion because I know some people are probably shaking their heads.)

The chemistry between Sally’s Anne and Rupert’s Wentworth was palpable without them even touching. I don’t remember a lot of physical contact in this adaption, but I remember passionate gazes, intense stares, and subtle glimpses between the two characters that made my heart leap.

With all that emotional chemistry, one might think that the first kiss would send fireworks. In my opinion it was quite the contrary. The kiss (to my surprise and distress) was at first an immediate negative. If any of you have seen it, it took forever! We see every tremble and movement of Sally’s mouth (not in a disgusting way) and this blatant passion, yet she withholds the kiss for so long! Such was my first impression when watching the adaption. Since, I have taken a different view. The point of the kiss was that it “took so long.” It stood to symbolize the constancy of Anne and Wentworth’s affection. They have been separated eight years, and now they are finally coming to this kiss. They are savoring the moment, reflecting on the many years it took them to get to where they are. Once you appreciate their struggle the kiss seems to fit perfectly into their story.

Sally and Rupert created a solid core for the movie, and everything else fell in place around them just as it should. The screenplay was done beautifully, preserving all the dialogue from the novel but managing to add an original flavor to suit a modern audience. The plot flows smoothly with perfect pacing. What’s not to like?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not in Heaven Yet, but Getting There!

Oh, my dearest bloggers! I try to shy away from religious phrases and such because I know that not everyone shares my beliefs and because I started this blog to have discussions on Literature, NOT religion. But I can't help myself. I am in a state of happiness. I have to say it!

"God is GOOD!"

What propelled me to make a religious exclamation and post the word "heaven" in my title? Cary Fukunaga's 2011 version of Jane Eyre has leaked to the internet. I have just logged off from watching it free. Imagine the state of euphoria I'm in, readers!

First off, let me give some immediate disclaimers. If you haven't seen the movie yet, don't try and look this up and watch it just because you want to be cheap and save some money. The movie is worth the ten dollar ticket, and is MUCH better expressed on a cinema screen than on a fuzzy 6 inch "youtube" style DivX player.

There's also only one site (or at least one that actually works and doesn't infiltrate your computer with viruses) that shows the movie in its entirety, and it comes at a price. The quality isn't good at all. It was watchable, but not to a very high extent. In fact, fifteen minutes into watching it I had to turn off my Gateway laptop and log onto my mother's macbook that has better screen quality. If you don't have a mac (the clarity of a mac screen is a great deal better than any other brand) then I would suggest you don't bother watching it.

The audio is also out of sync. Their lips are moving before they actually say their lines, and that will distract you throughout the whole thing. Therefore, if you haven't seen the movie yet DON'T try to find it. You're better off without it, and seeing the adaption on a fuzzy screen with screwed-up audio is worse than not seeing it at all because it ruins the feel of your "first time" movie experience.

For those who have seen the adaption already, it all depends on how you can cope with the glitches. I'm so obsessed that I just HAD to see it even with the obvious downsides it presented. It wasn't all that bad. I still had tears come to my eyes (whereas in the movie with a good screen and perfectly tuned audio, I was sobbing), and this will be enough to hold me until the DVD comes out. But I'm not going to watch it again. I don't want to ruin my "DVD" experience, the same way I don't want to ruin the "first time" experience for those who haven't seen the movie at all.

All in all, heaven is fifty-nine days away for me. Before the video leaked, it seemed like a grueling century. Now I think it's a bit closer. :)

"Devil in the White City" Review

Today's book review can't really be termed "English lit" related. It's a relatively new nonfictional piece that was published a few years ago. Before I get into that, however, let me provide the "preamble" as to why I'm reviewing it. As June is coming to its end and summer begins its usual decline back into the school-year, summer reading becomes a nuisance to the minds of lazy teenagers. This is the part of the summer where we must all discard our carefree attitudes and buckle down once more to read the piles of books forced upon us by our AP teachers.

As a result, most of my friends who haven’t picked up a book unless forced (or thanks to the genius of sparknotes haven’t picked one up at all) come rushing to me, the avid reader, asking for help. I sift through summer assignments pretty well. Most of them are pieces of Literature I enjoy reading or have read before (for example, our assignment for this year is reading Huckleberry Finn, which isn’t a stranger to me in the least). However, to “normal” teenagers who don’t enjoy the pleasure of reading the way I do,  help is always needed.

Cue Bonnie, the girl to which everyone runs when summer reading becomes eminent. I’m always being asked to “explain this” or “translate that.” It’s funny how people only appreciate your talents when they come in handy for their own personal use. Anyway, my best friend Ashley is a smart girl who I’ve a habit of helping with her summer reading. It’s been a tradition we’ve developed for the past few years because I always enjoy helping her and I don’t mind her taking credit for my work because she goes to a different school. She’s also the only one of my friends who genuinely appreciates my passion for reading rather than just try to flatter me in order to get her assignments out the way.

This year, the teachers at Ashley’s school threw a curveball at their students. To hell with assigning the students books that they don’t wish to read! Make them pick out their own books. The only problem is that one of them has to be nonfiction. Poor Ashley barely reads fiction, let alone stuffy biographies and nonfictional histories. So of course, the very day she got her assignment by email, she called me and asked me for suggestions. Giving her a fictional piece to read was easy. I told her to choose either Jane Eyre, North and South, or Pride and Prejudice. Each of these are books that I have extensive knowledge on and can assure an “A+” with. The problem this summer was finding a nonfictional book.

Here you may gain new insight into your fellow blogger: I absolutely despise nonfiction. I love writing that expands the imagination and takes one away from reality, or into a place where reality is at least better. Nonfiction does none of these things for me so I’ve always shied away from reading it unless forced. However, just last year I ran into a paperback that transformed my view of it forever. This book captivated me from beginning to end in a way that I thought no nonfictional piece would ever be able to.

I recommended Ashley to read The Devil in the White City.

Set in Chicago in the 1890s, this bestseller interconnects the stories of two men whose lives were both catapulted into fame by the 1893 World Fair. One is the genius architect behind the whole structure of the fair, called the “White City.” The other is one of the first infamous serial killers in America. He uses that same fair to entrap and kill young women.

Author Erik Larson uses his impeccable research to thread together a story that knocked my socks off. The fact that the book is actually nonfiction makes it all the more admirable. This book is not only a history of one of the most famous fairs in the world and the people that went there, but a story about connections. This masterpiece gives insight into the depths of human nature and how even the lives of the very best are intertwined with the worst.

I’m sure that this is not a book that most of you are familiar with. I don’t remember how I found it or what drove me to read it, but I know that I don’t regret it in the least. It turned out to be one of my favorite reads. It moved something inside of me. Before, I thought that nonfictional pieces were just facts spat out onto a page. After reading The Devil in the White City, I am grievously remorseful for my thoughts. Erik Larson combines the research and “reality” of nonfiction with the artistic beauty of the best fictional works.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Persuasion" by Jane Austen Review

First off, I hope that all my regular visitors like the changes I've made to the blog. Now that I'm getting a lot more support, I need to help make my blog more appealing. Please feel free to spread the word about "For the Love of Lit" to anyone who you think would be willing to listen! I broke my neck all day trying to figure out how to add tabs to the top of the page and finally figured it out. I've now categorized all my posts under those tabs to make them more accessible to you. Now, after taking a break and looking with a sense of self-satisfaction on the results of my labor, I’m ready to get back to what I do best; and that is reading and writing.

Today’s review is (in case you didn’t look at the hot-pink post title above) on a personal favorite of mine, Persuasion by none other than Jane Austen. I’m sure that it seems like a new facet of me, the girl who spends most of her time dwelling on the gothic romances of the Brontes. It’s actually quite the contrary. If it hadn’t been for Jane Austen, I never would have tapped into the passionate world of the Brontes. In theory, it was actually Jane Austen who laid the foundation for my passion for literature. Persuasion was the first (unabridged) classic I ever read, and thus plunged me into the rich world of literature. It is for that reason that I owe the book (and its Author) my undying gratitude, which I now seek to express by reviewing it. J

For all of you who are unacquainted with the book, Persuasion follows a heroine by the name of Anne Elliot, the daughter of the rich but rather prodigal baronet, Sir Walter Elliot. As the middle child of the family, Anne is often disregarded by her father in favor of her elder sister (who resembles him) or her younger sister, Mary, who has made a favorable marriage. Anne is lonesome and now seems destined for spinsterhood at the age of twenty-seven.

The reader now becomes more acquainted with Anne’s past. At the tender age of nineteen, she fell in love with the handsome naval officer, Frederick Wentworth.  Despite her passion for him, Anne rejects him after her mother’s old friend Lady Russell persuades her that his lack of wealth will hinder their relationship. Wentworth leaves with the navy, embittered by Anne’s weakness of mind and enraged by Lady Russell’s part in his rejection.

Years later Wentworth and Anne are thrown together again, both in completely different circumstances than they were before. Anne’s father is now short of money and forced to rent his house to Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law (the Crofts) while Wentworth has been made rich by his success in the war. His newfound wealth makes him a desirable match in society, and Wentworth is now continually sought after by many pretty young women. Anne is now forced to watch as the man she rejected, but still passionately loves is constantly flattered by admirers in front of her.

Persuasion’s plot buds as Anne and Wentworth’s mutual affection is in danger of being once again severed (this time forever) by Lady Russell’s persuasion and Wentworth’s seemingly fond attachment to an eager admirer. Almost eight years after their engagement has ended, the two main characters must now re-endure the same struggles of their childhood. Faced with the same decisions, Anne must determine to assert her strong passion for Wentworth and gain confidence in herself.

This novel was captivating. I hold it superior to all of Jane Austen’s prior works (even the much acclaimed P&P) in every aspect. Austen wasn’t the gloomy and brilliantly passionate writer that the Bronte’s were, but her use of irony was the best in the English language. She doesn’t fail to serve up another delicious helping of it in Persuasion. This book delves into the complexities of love and constancy. In a post I did a while ago, I explained that I didn’t enjoy Jane Austen’s novels as much because they often presented a lack of conflict for me. Persuasion, however, proves otherwise. Here, two characters are separated not only by the “usual” conflicts of society, but by time itself. Time is a pretty rigid antagonist.

Comments are always welcome. For all of those who haven’t read the novel (which I doubt isn’t that many), put it at the top of your reading list. It’s hard not to enjoy this book. The irony is (as always) entertaining, and literary devices are always in abundance whenever you’re reading Jane Austen. This is not just a simple romance, but a beautifully written work of art. This is Jane Austen at her best. It’s a shame that it had to be her last.

P.S. As always, I normally follow up a book review with a review of it's adaptions. Just for your viewing pleasure, here is Sally Hawkins (aka Mrs. Reed 2011) playing Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones (SWWOOOONNN) as Wentworth.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jane Eyre 1970 Review

I pride myself on having seen all the existing adaptions of Jane Eyre. Well, at least all the existing adaptions in English. I tried to watch the Italian one with the subtitles and those types of things just don’t work out really well. Anyway, this naturally wasn’t my first time watching the 1970 TV version of Jane Eyre, nor will it probably be the last. As long as there is a cloudy day, I’m always going to be watching period dramas.

When I first stumbled upon this version about a year ago, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Susannah York was in NO way the woman I had ever pictured as a “Jane” and George C. Scott was a just as surprising Rochester. After seeing him in Patton, it was kind of hard to imagine him anywhere other than standing in front of an American Flag, least of all in Mr. Rochester’s riding boots and muttonchops. With these two things in mind, I approached the 1970 Jane Eyre with a justifiable amount of skepticism.

I’ve since watched this version more than twice (because there are a LOT of cloudy days where I live) and still stick to the same conclusion. Susannah York is still not my idea of Jane and George C. Scott is still one of the last men that I would imagine playing Rochester. However, in the weirdest and indescribable of ways, they did their parts great justice and pulled out a pretty solid adaptation of the novel.

Like most Jane Eyre adaptions that have limited time to work with, the 1970 skimmed over much of Jane’s childhood. It didn’t do it as much as some other versions, but it wasn’t as detailed as the 1983. As a result, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Being as familiar with the book as I am, it didn’t really bother me because I fully comprehend the hardships that Jane had to go through without really seeing them. However, I do realize that for some Jane Eyre diehards, skimming over the Lowood section is a hideous disgrace. You can take it any way you want, but the point is that if you’re looking for detail about Jane’s early years, don’t expect to find it in this version.

So fast-forwarding through Jane’s abusive childhood, we come to the meat of the story where Susannah York pops in to play the (supposedly young) Jane Eyre and goes off to Thornfield. Susannah was thirty-one when she played the part. I don’t need to say much more for you to get the drift. Despite her age, however, Susannah played a highly independent and strong willed Jane. Her take on Jane is probably the strongest and most dominant one to grace the screen…ever. The problem with that dominance is that it makes her Jane a bit too outspoken. Jane is a very complex character to pull off because she is naturally passionate on the inside but has a rather girlishly quiet exterior.

What I loved about this version was the meeting scene. It’s the same as all the others, of course. Jane’s ambling along minding her own business and all of a sudden this man gallops by on a horse and falls. The thing about George C. Scott is that he makes it truly seem as if Rochester fell in love with Jane from the very beginning. The man has a rugged (and old) exterior, but he does know how to be soft on the eyes, and he shows the audience the minute the camera flashes to him.

 Some actors choose to portray the relationship between Jane and Rochester as a progression. This approach is mostly taken in BBC miniseries adaptions where more time is offered. In TV or film versions, there’s less time to depict a slow progression, so most actors take the “love at first sight approach.” Personally, I like neither of those approaches, but the “love at first sight” thing works better for me. It’s NOT because I’m a hopeless romantic (even though I am) but because Rochester himself says in the novel that he felt a kinetic attraction to Jane the minute that he leaned on her when his ankle was hurt. However, I also acknowledge that he says that the immediate attraction did progress into passion. 

Anyway, with little time to work with, the story progressed pretty fast. George C. Scott’s Rochester takes an immediate interest in Jane and I saw this childlike eagerness in him (despite Scott’s age) that longed to draw Jane out and constantly be in her company. The two leads actually have an admirable chemistry between them that I found pleasant to watch.

The only real problem with the chemistry between the leads was that Jane was the dominant figure in the relationship. Throughout the movie, she’s the one running and Rochester is the one chasing her. I always see Jane and Rochester’s relationship as a turbulent push and pull type of connection. One person isn’t always dominant. Of course, Rochester is dominant physically and economically, but he’s also rather dependent emotionally. Jane is playing “hard to get”, but she doesn’t even really seem to know that she’s playing it because Rochester is being manipulative and enigmatic. York and Scott didn’t delve into these complexities at all. Never once does this Rochester assert his physical or economic dominance the way the “real” Rochester does. Scott played a harsh and demanding general in Patton, but in Jane Eyre he was too gentle!

Basically, in so many words; Scott was too weak of a Rochester, and York was (I can’t believe I’m saying this) too strong of a Jane for this version to faithfully mirror the relationship in the novel. That is not to say that the relationship portrayed by George and Susannah wasn’t enjoyable, because it was extremely pleasant to watch. My eyes even fogged up during the proposal scene and Jane’s last night at Thornfield. It just wasn’t “Jane and Rochester.”

Despite the criticisms I’ve given, this version of Jane Eyre is still worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Bertha’s discovery was carried out very well and served as a very good climax. Blanche Ingram is actually a brunette the way she’s supposed to be. The love story was a good one will make a few tears come to your eyes. All in all, it was a commendable adaption. Just don’t expect it to be your definitive version, because it’s not the type of adaption geared towards important details.

Comments, anyone?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Lit Rant on a Cloudy Evening

I’ve come to realize that my blog has become a “hub” of sorts on the internet. I see that people often come to me for the first time after referrals from the much-visited “Bronte Blog” as well as the blogs of my (few) followers. As my blog continues to grow in popularity a little more each day, I find it incumbent upon me to thank all of my regular visitors and fellow Lit lovers who find time in their day to stop by this little site of mine. I cannot even begin to tell you how it brightens my day to see new comments and words of encouragement when I log into “”

Blogging has been a truly incredible experience for me. Before I started, I felt like a useless teenager in a small town living a rather tedious life. Now I have the privilege of sharing all my thoughts on what I love best with viewers from different parts of the world. The fact that I’m communicating with people that live across the Atlantic is especially exciting to me. I have an unhealthy obsession with English Lit, as you all know. But I also have a great passion for the culture surrounding it. It is for this reason that I love all things European.

I love my country, don’t get me wrong. America is certainly a great place to live. Still, European culture has a rich appeal to me that I can’t seem to describe. I live in a country where Hollywood is highly publicized and commercialized movies are constantly hitting the big screen, but some of my favorite actors and actresses are actually European. Michael Fassbender is german/irish. James McAvoy is Scottish. Keira Knightley is from the UK. Another immense favorite of mine is the very underrated Richard Armitage.

It is in fact, RA himself that compelled me to write this post. I know that I’ve casted him as my perfect Rochester, but I also mentioned that I enjoyed him in the North and South miniseries based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. I reviewed the book a while ago, for all of you who haven’t read it. However, today on a rainy day in the U.S, I found myself watching the miniseries and after turning the TV off and wiping the tears from my eyes, I felt the urgent need to review it.

The BBC is great when it comes to adapting novels to the screen, but it was at its best when it chose to adapt North and South. The book was splendid and ended up being my second favorite novel, but the miniseries blew me away. With a screenplay written by Sandy Welch (who also wrote the controversial script of the ’06 Jane Eyre and the most recent adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma) and a great setting in northern England, the miniseries was already destined to be good.

Casting Daniella Denby-Ashe as the main character Margaret Hale was a rather questionable move to some, but in my opinion worked in the adaption’s favor. The stroke of genius was bringing in Richard Armitage to play the glowering and multilayered Mr. Thornton.

There are some adaptations where departures from the book are deemed controversial, questionable, or just downright disgraceful. Sandy Welch took many a liberty in adapting the screenplay for North and South, and ALL the departures from the book paid off in a very positive way. Sandy even added new batches of symbolism to the film that weren’t existent in the novel. An example of this would be the motif of “looking through windows” that constantly reoccurs throughout the miniseries, but isn’t really touched on in the book. In some instances, Sandy departed from the book altogether in scenes such as the end the of adaption, or the meeting of the main characters. All these were very heavy risks that could’ve exposed the adaption to a lot of criticism, but ended up making the miniseries a masterpiece.

What I particularly loved about this adaption was that balanced its rather large departures from the novel in the plot by sticking faithfully true to the essence and appearance of the characters and settings. Daniella Denby-Ashe solidly played the stubborn and rather prejudiced Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage completely inhabited his role as John Thornton. The chemistry between the two leads was beautiful. The viewer witnesses before their eyes Margaret’s gradual transformation. Daniella changes her character one step at a time so that the audience becomes more in touch with the realism of Miss Hale’s journey. Richard Armitage BECOMES John Thornton. The emotions shown through his eyes are stronger than any words could express. This is essential to the role of Thornton because he is a man who represses his emotions until they burst their way out of him.

If any of you hasn’t read the original novel, I suggest that you run out to the book store nearest you and purchase it. If you are a true lover of Lit, there’s almost absolutely no way you won’t enjoy it. You could just watch the miniseries and be content, because the miniseries is capable of being watched alone. Still, the best effect comes from reading the source material before or after or DURING the miniseries (whichever way works best for you). I don’t care what order you choose to do it in, just do it! You don’t want to miss this.

That’s it for now. It’s still cloudy outside and I have nothing to do, so I think that I’m going to re-watch the 2007 adaptation of Persuasion. I’m sure there will be a review of that novel coming soon, so watch out for it. As always, comments are encouraged!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Dangerous Method: the All-Star Triple Threat

I absolutely HAD to write a post about my excitement for the upcoming movie, A Dangerous Method. It really has nothing to do with literature, but I am a girl of many interests and psychology just so happens to be one of them. This past year I took AP Psych and was absolutely blown away by all the wonders of the mind and human emotion. The class ended up being one of my favorites and almost drove me to want to change my minor in college.

However, let’s get back to the point at hand and let me give you the backstory to why I’m so very excited about this movie. It’s rather funny how different interests can sometimes interconnect. My intense love for Jane Eyre drove me to rush to see Cary Fukunaga’s adaption, which I ended up (of course) loving. I especially seemed to love the man playing Rochester, Michael Fassbender. As a result I watched a few of his other movies and became an avid fan of his, which thus led me to follow him closely.

Lo and behold, Michael Fassbender is now going to star in the upcoming movie, A Dangerous Method, alongside Keira Knightley (another favorite of mine) AND Viggo Mortenson (Yet ANOTHER favorite).  And he’s playing none other than the famous psychologist, Carl Jung. Isn’t it funny how life works?

A Dangerous Method apparently draws to light the love triangle between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein during the early 1900s. Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortenson) is the pioneering psychoanalyst who takes aspiring psychologist Carl Jung (Fassbender) under his wing. Carl delves into studying the world of the subconscious and thus takes a troubled Russian patient by the name of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). While successfully treating her, the married Jung begins an affair with Spielrein. This causes tension between the student and the teacher, who also seems to have feelings for her. The film follows the deterioration of the relationship between Freud and Jung while also exploring the dangers of innate human desires.

This movie is bound to be in talks for a few Academy Awards. It’s supposedly being released during the awards season and this is one cast that is sure to turn heads. Knightley sports a new Russian accent for yet another period film to add to her portfolio. Perhaps this may be the one to win her an Oscar? Viggo Mortenson is probably sure to turn in a solid (and as usual, an underrated) performance as the Austrian pioneer of psychology. As for Michael Fassbender, his fame continues to grow in the U.S as a result of the well-received X-men: First Class. He was a brilliant actor before then (I would suggest that you all see him in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank and he was a knockout in Steve McQueen’s Hunger) and I’m sure that his performance will not disappoint.

*sigh*…How much better can life get? Jane Eyre is arriving on DVD in less than two months, Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is just around the corner, Joe Wright is developing an all-star cast for the new Anna Karenina, and NOW my favorite actors are all joining forces to star in a new psychological drama/romance. A girl could die of happiness!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Richard Armitage is my Rochester!

There seems to be a BBC miniseries of almost every good piece of literature ever written. Or at least, that's what I thought as I went searching for a screen adaption of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley, the newest book I've found an interest in. Imagine my surprise then, when it turns out that there's no adaptation to be found! I was quite shocked, but at the same time I understand because Shirley isn't the most popular of novels.

However, the absence of a screen adaption of Shirley got me thinking. As we all know, I love to discuss the casting of characters in screen versions of Jane Eyre, and I always run into the dilemna that none of the cast seems perfectly right for ME. Therefore, for the next week I'm going to choose some of my favorite pieces of Lit and pick a cast that I would personally imagine. I mentally cast movies in my head all the time, and I think it would be pretty fun to share the ideas that have been running through my brain to see what you guys think. I plan to do this for (of course) Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Shirley, and maybe even others.

I planned on starting this new adventure out with Shirley, but I'm actually having a really hard time finding someone I think would be right as the titular character. Therefore, I'm going to start with Jane Eyre because I've had a mental cast in my head for this novel ever since I read it for the first time 3 years ago.

Jane Eyre 2011 Directed by Bonnie C.

Jane Eyre
Of course, we start with the titular character, Miss Jane Eyre herself. This role is probably the hardest to cast because you have to find a young girl who can pull off the plainess as well as the intensity of Jane. I always tried to stay in the range of eighteen to twenty two years old when thinking of who I would cast. It was extremely hard to find an actress to live up to my mental picture of Jane. I ended up realizing that for some reason, there were two different ways that I could possibly imagine her. So here are the two actresses I found that best suited those two ways.

The first actress that came to my mind was Anna Popplewell (aka Susan from Chronicles of Narnia)

Grant it, Anna may be too old. She's 22 and a little mature. However, she's only 5'3 which works in her favor as a Jane because it may be able to give her a younger look and who knows what hair and makeup can do to her? Anna sings to me as Jane because she isn't naturally pretty and she's also used to playing strong characters. For some reason I can see her playing a naturally independent, yet rather subtle Jane. However, I like my second choice better. And that choice is:

Rachel Hurd-Wood:
I had to give two pictures of Rachel for a particular reason. The first was to show her with Brown hair, just so the Janian quality might come out a bit more. The second was the picture that drew me to her as Jane. That picture has a straight-forward quality which made it easy for me to picture her with Jane's knot, AND to me it just wreaks of Jane's "pixie-like" quality. This girl has these large, searching eyes and her face has this youthful understated beauty that can be made to look appropriately plain. Rachel is also only twenty years old and has a pretty good load of acting experience. I rather liked her in Dorian Gray. The downside is that she has blue eyes and she's around 5'6, so she isn't necessarily "small." However, the Rochester I chose is 6'2, so she would probably look appropriately small next to him. Speaking of the man himself, let's move on to Rochester.

There's only one man I've ever pictured as my perfect Rochester, and that is Richard Armitage.

I'm sorry, but how has this man NOT been casted as Rochester yet? Sure, he's really good looking, but so were numerous other Rochesters that filmakers successfully uglied up enough. Richard Armitage is 39 years old, 6'2, broad chested, athletically built, and naturally dark haired. Not only that but he has the "grim" thin-lipped mouth, as well as the piercing eyes and bad-boy ruggedness. Add a dark and menacing voice with a natural Northern English accent, and you have all the physical qualities of a great Rochester. However, he also has the internal qualities in abundance. Richard played an equally gloomy and rather sardonic Lit hero in BBC's adaptation of "North and South" and he played it AMAZINGLY. He knows how to emote anger, frustration, and all throughout the miniseries I kept thinking "why is this man NOT Rochester?". Of course, I've focused on Rochester's bad sides, but Richard is also equally capable of carrying out Rochester's passion the same way he did in North and South. Does it help any that he completely owned his role in that miniseries based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell who was one of the BEST friends of Charlotte Bronte and wrote similar stories? It's almost as if he was fated to play Rochester for me! Match him with Rachel who I imagined playing Jane, and together it's the perfect age gap.

St. John
It's such a shame that Jude Law is too old, because for some reason I always thought he was a great fit to St. John. St. John is by far the hardest character in the novel to cast. You'd think it'd be easy, but to me St. John isn't just your regular pretty boy. Sure, he's supposed to be handsome, but there's rigid and unattractiveness within him that Jane can't stand. You have to find an actor that can successfully portray that coldness.

I came up with Aaron Johnson.

He's a little young for the part, but he can pull it off. He's about to play Vronsky in Anna Karenina, so he's used to big shoes that need to be filled. This guy has a lot of talent and he molds characters very well. He's like a cameleon. Whatever type of character you want, he can be. So why can't he be St. John? He can deliver the coldness and the sexyness. And for once, we may find that St. John is suitable competition like he was in the novel.

Mrs. Fairfax
She's not all that hard of a person to cast. I liked a good deal of the previous Fairfaxes and I can't really find one that I didn't like. Dame Judi Dench nailed her performance and thus defined the role for me, but just for the sake of doing something different, why don't we try Brenda Blethyn?

To me, Brenda is right up there in the caliber of actresses that include Dame Judi. I haven't seen a movie where she hasn't played her role solidly and so why not give her a try as Fairfax? I don't think it's really possible for you to go wrong with Brenda any more than it is with Judi Dench.

Mrs. Reed
She's not TOO much of an important player, so I would cast her with a solid actress who can pull of the sweet and cruel. And no actress does that better than Tilda Swinton.

As she so aptly displayed in the Chronicles of Narnia, Tilda is rather good and playing evil characters with the outward appearance of a sweet woman. It seems like she would fit the role of Mrs. Reed rather well.

What do you guys think so far?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Classic Lit coming to DVD and Cinemas

There is a lot of news circulating around screen adaptations finding there way onto the big screen and DVD. I thought I might share my excitement with you, seeing that there seems to be a lot to be excited about. This year is definitely THE year for Classic Lit in the cinemas because some of the most acclaimed directors are now taking on well known pieces of Lit and translating them to the big screen. It started out with Cary Fukunaga's beautiful adaptation of "Jane Eyre" and now we begin to move on to Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights", which will hopefully be released later this year. But it doesn't just stop in 2011. In 2012, well known director Joe Wright is set to release his adaptation of the much loved "Anna Karenina." I love it! It seems like a proclaimed "Lit lover" will have a lot to look forward to in the year to come. Buckle up and hold on. It should be an exciting ride.

Jane Eyre 2011 DVD Release:
First off, let me give a large thanks to the Bronte Blog who always gets the news before I do. For those of you who haven't seen it already, I'm pleased to announce the release date for the DVD of Cary Fukunaga's "Jane Eyre" as well as give you what news I have on it.  I'm pretty sure that the release is obviously for America only, since the movie doesn't even make it to screens in Europe until early September. For all those who might be accessing this blog from another country, I'm horribly sorry.

The DVD is being released August 16th. The most important to report is that the DVD will have special features that include some of the pieces already released such as "To Score Jane Eyre" and "The Mysterious Lighting of Jane Eyre." If you haven't seen those things then you can access them on the movie's official website by Focus Features. The DVD will also include deleted scenes (thank you Jesus!) and a commentary by Cary Fukunaga.

All this happiness could not come without a bit of sadness, however. That sadness stems from the fact that as far as we know, there most likely will not be a director's cut of the movie that so many people (including me) longed for. A director's cut is, of course, when we see the deleted scenes mixed in with the movie in its entirety and get to enjoy Cary Fukunaga's original 2 hour 30 minute vision for the movie. Obviously the filmakers don't understand the gravity of what a director's cut could do. For me, this Jane Eyre was almost 95% perfect in every way, but it wasn't my definitive version because of the lack of time. If there was a director's cut available, then perhaps that 5% could have been filled and I might have found what I was looking for.  *sigh*....Oh well.

Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights" News:
There's not much going on with "Wuthering Heights" so far. As I've said before, they're keeping this movie on a very low profile for some reason. There's only one poster, no screencaps or trailers and absolutely nothing to go by. The only thing I've been able to dig up so far is that the soundtrack will feature a song or two recorded by Mumford & Sons, a highly praised grammy award nominated band. The film released a teaser at the pre-Cannes Festival party that received a positive reaction and is reportedly premiering at the Venice Film Festival. These are very generalized facts that give us no insight whatsoever into how the movie will actually turn out, but in case you're curious, here is the casting:

  • Kaya Scodelario: Catherine Earnshaw

  • James Howson: Heathcliff

  • Oliver Milburn: Mr. Linton

  • Nichola Burley: Isabella Linton

  • James Northcote: Edgar Linton

  • Amy Wren: Frances Earnshaw

  • Steve Evets: Joseph

  • Paul Hilton: Mr. Earnshaw

  • Simone Jackson: Catherine Linton

  • Anna Karenina 2012
    I have to admit that I saved the best news for last. I for one am EXTREMELY excited for Joe Wright's version of Anna Karenina to start blooming. I was never a big fan of Anna Karenina because it just never really struck a resounding chord with me. Still, I enjoyed the book enough to know a decent bit about it and to be excited about the fact that it's taking a turn on the big screen. Not only that, but it's being handled by one of the best directors in the game right now.

    Joe Wright is an artist, and he particularly has a great talent for filming beautiful adaptations of well known Literature. I loved his modern but rather faithful take on Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement was an absolute masterpiece. He also directed The Soloist, which was vastly underrated.

    Joe Wright has only taken a few turns around the block, but he's proven that he can handle some pretty big jobs. He's also made it clear that he sticks to what he knows. All three of his movies have soundtracks provided by Dario Marianelli, who won the academy award for his work on Atonement and who also provided the sounds for Cary Fukunaga's beloved Jane Eyre soundtrack.

    Yes, Joe Wright definitely doesn't take a lot of chances. What he's done has worked for him in the past and it doesn't seem like he wants to change it up, especially when it comes to his lead roles. He has casted Kiera Knightley in the titular role of Anna Karenina, marking the third time that he's made her his leading lady. Kiera has also been around the block a few times when it comes to period films, so I'm sure she can pull this one off just as well. Matthew McFadyen (aka Mr. Darcy 2005) is also coming back to work with Joe Wright and is set to play Stiva Oblonsky, Anna's brother.

    Anna Karenina is definitely using a lot of star power. Jude Law (swoon) has been casted as Anna's infamous husband, Karenin, and Aaron Johnson steps up to play Anna's young lover, Vronsky. The cast also includes Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Andrea Riseborough, Saoirse Ronan, and Domhnall Gleeson.

    As a whole, this movie (unlike Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights) is coming out fast and furious and turning a lot of heads. I'm ready to see how this novel (which is considerably longer than Jane Eyre) will translate to the big screen. If I were you, I would read or brush up on the novel. It truly is a great piece of Literature and I'm sure that this movie will do it justice. I guess we'll see.

    I'm floating on a cloud of joy right now. There's so much to read, watch, and anticipate. I will definitely be keeping myself busy. As usual, comments are always welcome! Give me your insights!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    "Jane Eyre--Jane Eyre," was all he said.

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

    Today I was contemplating on the growing popularity of my "Oh, Rochester" post, thinking of how glad I am to see my blog beginning to thrive and to see people appreciating my thoughts. Then it dawned on me that though I compared Rochesters from the different Jane Eyre adaptations but failed to give any attention to the main character herself.

    We all know who Jane Eyre is and each reader knows what they love about her. This eighteen year old has barely even eclipsed womanhood and has already experienced pain and hopelessness. Yet, as her obstacles become increasingly challenging, Jane becomes all the more independent and sure of herself. She finds worth in herself when those around her either take advantage of it or don't see it at all.

    Still, Jane longs for mutual love and passionate life. She is raw and inexperienced in the ways of the world and throughout the novel we see her discover emotions and sensations that she's never come in contact with before. This girl is the center and cornerstone of the story. She functions as the protagonist, the damsel in distress, the hero, AND the narrator all in one. If Jane is miscasted, the movie or miniseries is doomed before you even press play.

    So, just as I did in "Oh, Rochester", I've collected images of the Janes from every version I've seen and will give my personal opinions of each. Casting is often a touchy subject when a book is adapted to the screen because each reader possesses a different opinion. I will give mine without hesitation. Whether you agree or disagree with my analysis, I would still love to see your comments!

    So here we go!

    Jane Eyre 1944: Joan Fontaine
    Positive: Joan Fontaine was a very well respected actress in her time. I loved her in Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of "Rebecca." She had this sweet quality about her in all her movies, and this included Jane Eyre. Joan plays Jane by playing up her sympathetic side. We see that uncertainty that I personally believe Jane had in her.
    Negative: We see the uncertainty in Joan's performance, but very little else. In this version, Jane strikes me as WAY too dependent. We don't see the indignant side of Jane that helps establish her as Rochester's equal. Joan didn't infuse any independence in her portrayal at all. Even during the proposal scene where Jane is supposed to come forth and demand that Rochester treat her with respect, Joan isn't demanding. She didn't have the "hero" quality of Jane, only the "damsel in distress." She also isn't young or plain enough to convincingly portray Jane's exterior.

    Jane Eyre 1949: Mary Sinclair
    Positive: First off, let me say that I'm sorry I couldn't find a better picture. This was the only thing I really had available. As to Mary's positives, I can't think of a single one. In her defense, it was a very low budget made-for-TV adaptation.
    Negative: Just like her "Rochester" counterpart, Charlton Heston, there are a list of things wrong with Mary Sinclair. The first and most noticeable is that she was simply too old. Jane is eighteen. Unlike Rochester where you might have to calculate his age because it isn't specifically mentioned, Jane's age is given plain and clear in the text of the novel, so there is really no excuse. Mary also hideously downplayed Jane's inner strength and natural confidence. She made Jane seem timid and afraid, and thus disgraced the character for me.

    Jane Eyre 1979: Susannah York
    Positive: Susannah was the first actress that actually stepped up and decided to play Jane as the independent woman she is. I loved seeing Susannah stand up to George C. Scott and say "when I come to you, Edward, I come to you as an equal. I will NOT be less" and I also loved that slight sense of vulnerability I received from her in the proposal scene where she cries "don't make me foolish." Susannah was a very commendable Jane.
    Negative: TOO OLD! This version as a whole threw the true ages of the character out the window. George C. Scott was much too old to play the thirty-eightish year old Rochester. Susannah was thirty one years old when she played this part, which surprised me when I did the research because she looked even older than that!

    Jane Eyre 1973: Sorcha Cusack

    Positive: Physically, Sorcha had those large pixie like eyes that I personally find imperative in a Jane. She was convincingly plain and did look rather other worldly in some instances. She also had this "Janian" quality that I couldn't put a finger on. I think it was the way she related to Michael Jayston as Rochester. She seemed to have the upper hand on him and the two of them had this rather odd (yet endearing) chemistry that I found to be true to the novel.
    Negative: Sorcha was twenty four years old when she pulled her hair into Jane Eyre's signature knot. That's not nearly as bad as Susannah York, who missed Jane's age by more than ten years, but still it wasn't convincing enough. Jane's age is really important to me as a reader because I can't fully appreciate her journey into womanhood unless she really looks like the teenager that she was in the novel. I also found Sorcha's voice to be rather annoying in many instances. It was so light and too "happy." I didn't see Jane's heartbreak or dispair in any instances.

    Jane Eyre 1983: Zelah Clarke
    Positive: I actually really liked Zelah Clarke as Jane. She had a sort of quiet strength that I found admirable and I think that people underestimated her performance. I also loved the fact that Zelah was really short. At least, she looked short in comparison to Timothy Dalton who was well over six feet tall. Jane really was "small" in this adaptation which helped highlight the physical dominance that Rochester had over her.
    Negative: Zelah was twenty nine. Need I really say more? I also found her quiet strength to be TOO quiet in many instances. Sometimes she just didn't have that outer flash and Jane needs to have that. Zelah was rather reserved just like Jane should be, but she was reserved to the point of boring in a lot of cases.

    Jane Eyre 1996: Charlotte Gainsbourg

    Positive: Well, she was definitely plain. She did have that pixie-like quality that Jane is described as having. She had pretty good amounts of vulnerability and independence in good balance.
    Negative: I don't know just what it is that I didn't like about Charlotte. She had all the elements required to play Jane but she just didn't execute well. The thing is that she didnt inhabit the role of Jane. The whole movie I felt like she was "Charlotte Gainsbourg trying to be Jane" instead of seeing Jane on the screen. Her acting was very remedial like she was making mental notes in her head saying "Now, Jane is supposed to be mad here and happy here."

    Jane Eyre 1997: Samantha Morton
    Positive: I actually really enjoyed seeing Samantha Morton as Jane even though I hated seeing Ciaran Hinds across from her playing Rochester. Samantha is actually one of my favorite Janes. She made it a point to exude that confidence and inner wisdom that Jane should have. I loved her during the proposal scene. She did the appropriate amount of crying and I loved the line where she cries "I am your equal, and you have treated me as such." Some Janes are rather over-dramatic whereas others don't make their points enough. Samantha was the happy medium for me that showed the essence of Jane through her subtlety. She also had a rather young look about her.
    Negative: Samantha had a horrible Rochester to work with. She was great when portraying Jane's singularity and solitude, but when it came to scenes that focused on her relationship WITH Rochester, it didn't resignate well at all. The chemistry just wasn't right. It felt like Samantha Morton had an idea of what she wanted to do and Ciaran Hinds had a different idea and that the two didn't communicate their ideas to each other. Therefore when the camera started rolling, the two were so busy working on their individual characters that those character's didn't mesh well with one another. Exhibit "A" being the kiss, which was absolutely horrible. Could you even call that a kiss?

    Jane Eyre 2006: Ruth Wilson
    Positive: I liked Ruth as Jane. Her face has the natural plainess, but from some angles we see this strange kind of beauty in her. She played Jane naturally; independence, strength, vulnerability, and all. Just like Toby Stephens was my best "all around" Rochester, Ruth seemed to be my best "all around Jane" just because she played the role as it should be played and did it solidly.
    Negative: Some people are going to hate me for saying this because a lot of people like it, but I couldn't stand Ruth in the proposal scene. At first she was great, but when she started sobbing it was just an absolute mess to me. I understand that Jane was in a state of distress and that she was asserting her independence and revealing her passionate nature, but any time the actor has to stop and wipe the snot from their nose during the scene it automatically tells me that you took it a little too far. I'm not making this up by the way, if you watch closely, Ruth really did wipe her nose during the scene. Also, I found a problem with Ruth's height. Either Toby Stephens was really short, or Ruth is just tall, but the two of them are almost the same height and it bugged me because Jane is supposed to be small. Or at least, that's how I pictured her.

    Jane Eyre 2011: Mia Wasikowska
    Positive: As I've said before, I did have my doubts when I saw that Mia was chosen to be Jane. I didn't particularly like her in Alice in Wonderland, so I didn't know how I would take to her. Surprisingly though, I really did like what Mia did with the role. She is the youngest actress to play Jane (twenty one) and she did look eighteen years old. I loved Mia's eyes when she played the role. The eye contact she made with Rochester and with other characters around her was piercing and very acute. Her glances and gazes gave us a gateway into Jane's thoughts without being melodramatic. Oh, and the leaving scene was absolutely beautiful. That scene alone made me acknowledge her as a serious actress. When she cries, she truly gives the impression that her heart is breaking without having to resort to sobbing and screaming the way Ruth Wilson did. Also, her chemistry with Michael Fassbender was absolutely palpable in every scene that they did together. The two helped strengthen each other.
    Negative: I hate to say it, but I do think that Mia was kind of dry in some scenes. I think it was because the screen play didn't actually give her a lot of lines to deliver and a lot of the time her emotions were displayed through her eyes rather than through her mouth. Also, I don't know whether this is a negative or not, but what color was her hair exactly? Sometimes it struck me as red. Did anyone else notice that?

    All in all:
    My favorite Jane> Probably Samantha Morton or Mia Wasikowska
    Still, just like the "Rochester Dilemna" I have yet to find THE Jane, the one that ultimately defines the role. 

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    "Jane Eyre's Husband" Review

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

    I just finished reading Jane Eyre's Husband two seconds ago (literally). I started reading this book already given hope by good reviews, but I was in no way prepared for just HOW magnificent it would be...

    Unlike other book reviews that I've done in the past, I don't really need to give a synopsis of Jane Eyre's Husband. Most visitors of this blog have read Jane Eyre before, so the only real synopsis you need is that it's a retelling of that story told mostly from Rochester's point of view. I say "mostly" because it does shift to different characters' perspectives, but the plot stays focused on Rochester just as it should be.

    Key things I loved:
    The different shifts in perspective work to the book's advantage because the reader gets the benefit of becoming more acquainted with other characters from Jane Eyre. For example, I was extremely happy to see Dr. Carter find his way to the forefront of the book during the time period in which Rochester is struggling for life after being injured in the fire.

    The book is divided into three parts. The first is Rochester’s life before Jane which gives the full explanation of his marriage to Bertha as well as his mistresses. The second is about his time with Jane that goes hand in hand with Jane Eyre. The third part dwells on the time after their marriage. The division was actually kind of necessary, because without these separate parts the book might have been too overwhelming due to its rather large length. Still, I liked the division because I felt like it gave me the full extent of Rochester’s progression through life.

    Tara Bradley mastered the art of preserving the sanctity of the source material while also bringing in a modern edge to the story. I read another Jane Eyre spin-off called Rochester and it dwelled SO much on the sexual aspect of Jane and Rochester’s relationship that it strayed significantly off the path of the source material and ruined it for me. Tara Bradley sticks faithfully to Jane Eyre in all the parts that the original novel has already laid out for us. However, she takes appropriate liberties in parts one and three so that the reader’s imagination is still awakened.

    I never got bored. Not once. At all. Almost every book I’ve ever read has at least a tiny dry area where you might be a little tempted to fast forward a few pages. This is the first book where I made it a POINT to read every.single.word. Some areas even I read more than twice because they were so gripping!

    Overall, “gripping” is the exact word to use when describing Tara Bradley’s masterpiece. Somehow this author has an amazing gift of translating emotions from a page into the reader’s very heart. I FELT myself witnessing Rochester’s journey as if I was there for myself. I experienced full force the same emotions that he was experiencing, ESPECIALLY in Rochester’s moments of despair. To me, any author can write about love and romance, but it takes true talent to be able to convey the full extent of a breaking heart to a reader. Bradley’s genius exhibits itself to the fullest in Rochester’s angst, not just in his moments of pleasure. That’s what makes Jane Eyre’s Husband the masterpiece that it is. To me, the whole point of Rochester’s personal story is that he’s burdened by misery for most of it until he meets Jane. The reader can’t be touched by the relationship he finds with Jane until they fully understand the hopelessness of his situation without her. Bradley understands this and executes accordingly. I cried countless times while reading this novel. The great thing is that they were tears of joy AND sadness, and not just one or the other.

    To all Jane Eyre fans:
    I know in just another post I abused eBooks and basically called them the root of all evil, but I’m telling you now that you HAVE to purchase this book. I downloaded the kindle software to my PC and you should too, just for the pleasure of reading Jane Eyre’s Husband.

    To Tara Bradley if you’re reading this:
    You are an artist! I hope to read more from you. I’m brutally honest and highly critical when it comes to anything having to do with Jane Eyre. It takes a lot to please me, and you absolutely blew me away with your writing.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    My Name Is Bonnie and I'm a Jane Eyre Addict

     More love for Jane Eyre. Thanks to the great advice of RhubarbsMom, I was able to download the kindle movie tie-in version of Jane Eyre without actually buying a kindle. I didn't reread the book, but rather skipped right to the screenplay that I had been longing for. What was GREAT about this screenplay was that it included lines and scenes that didn't make it into the final movie. I understand why they didn't because if they HAD been included the movie would have been somewhere around three hours (not that I personally would mind).

    My analysis of the screenplay:

    I would highly recommend any other Jane Eyre fanatics to download (FREE) the Kindle software and purchase the Kindle movie tie-in version of the novel, just for the benefit of reading the screenplay. It was absolutely amazing. The movie itself was not so scary (though I jumped here and there) but the screenplay definitely portrays it as a gothic movie. There was one idea in particular that I actually liked that didn't make it into the film. Moira Buffini wrote the script so that we get more acquainted with Helen Burns through her ghost. Her ghost often appears in places and points of dispair for Jane, as if comforting her. Mind you, the ghost doesn't talk because that would be too creepy, but I thought it was a nice little idea.

    Blanche Ingram was also originally given a much greater part in the movie and she appeared much more in the screenplay.

    OH!!! My favorite thing about the screenplay that didn't appear in the movie was that voiceovers were actually going to be used in a particular scene. Do you remember how in the movie they showed the little glimpses of Jane and Rochester's courtship? Well they originally intended to do this same idea with voiceovers from Jane AND Rochester, adding more conversation. So basically, they would have been shooting different scenes of Rochester and Jane wasting the month of courtship while the characters were doing voiceovers of one of the conversations from the book. That conversation was the one in which Rochester says "For you are a beauty in my eyes and I wish to make the world acknowledge you a beauty." Gosh, I would have loved that!

    There's also a bit more emphasis on NAMES in the screenplay. It goes out of its way to point out that the name "Mrs. Edward Fairfax Rochester" was put on Jane's traveling trunk before the marriage got broken off. Also, during the leaving scene, Edward tries to tempt Jane a bit more by embracing her and laying her down and he says "You've never called me by my name. My name is Edward...say it" and the writer adds that he says this gently, which sharply contrasts to what happens later on in the film when St. John yells the same lines at her, saying "Say his name. Say it!!"

    I also found a lot more physicality between Rochester and Jane in the original screenplay. As I've just mentioned, in the leaving scene he tries to lay her down and tempt her. I can imagine it. However, it also shows up in other ways. There is a lot of focus on the contact between hands, which I love because that was in the novel too. Cary also commented on that in one of his interviews. We didn't see it all that much in the final movie, but in the screenplay it was definitely highlighted because Moira Buffini actually intended for Rochester to lose his hand during the fire (which most previous adaptations chose not to do, save the 1983 and the 1973 if I remember correctly). I for one am glad that they didn't make him lose a hand. It doesn't translate well to a modern audience, and that's exactly what Cary thought. He says that back then it might have been a bit more normal, but nowadays it's considered highly melodramatic. I agree. I also think that the facial hair was alarming enough.

    One last thing I wish they had put into the movie...
    This screenplay included my favorite quote from the novel that NEVER gets put in any of the movie. It's not a quote that most Jane Eyre diehards normally go to first, but it's my favorite in the entire book and none of the movies ever use it. It's a quote used during the conversation between the servant and Jane when he's telling her about the fire at Thornfield. He says:
     " The governess had run away two months before;
    and for all Mr. Rochester sought her as if she had been the most
    precious thing he had in the world, he never could hear a word of
    her; and he grew savage--quite savage on his disappointment: he
    never was a wild man, but he got dangerous after he lost her."
    Anyway, in the returning scene when Jane sees Mrs. Fairfax, the screenplay includes that line. Unfortunately, they didn't end up using it, but It made my night when I read it. I sincerely hope that the deleted scenes will be included on the DVD now that I've gotten a taste of what they were. If they are, then I'm sure that my life will be complete. 

    My name is Bonnie and I am a Jane Eyre addict!! However, I don't really think I want to go to rehab. :)

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    "North and South" Review

    North and South (the one by Elizabeth Gaskell) is my second favorite book for a variety of reasons. It tells the story of the young Margaret Hale, the pretty daughter of a clergyman in the south of England. Margaret is a vibrant, sympathetic, and passionate girl who was raised in the small village of Helstone. The story starts in London as Margaret celebrates the nuptials of her cousin and prepares to return home. She is immediately shown the affections of a well-off lawyer, the brother of her new cousin-in-law. He follows her to Helstone and proposes, only to be rejected because of her lack of affection for him.

    Margeret is thrown through another torrent of emotions as her family is abruptly uprooted from its quaint parsonage by Mr. Hale, who quits his profession because of conflict in his faith. Margaret and her mother reluctantly move to the dingy industrial town of Milton where they are short of money and the grayness of the setting matches their outlook on life. Mr. Hale takes up a job as a teacher while Margaret begins to take an interest in the poor mill workers that populate Milton. Many of them are starving and the threat of strike fills the air. 

    She meets Higgins, a poor mill worker and one of the leaders of the impending strike who must feed his family and take care of his sick daughter who has been taken ill from the bad air within the factories. Margaret sympathizes with the poor workers and finds even more disdain with the mill owners and industrial chaos of the town. This anger is made even more pronounced when she meets the young mill owner Mr. Thornton, a favorite student of her father.

    Margaret immediately dislikes Mr. Thornton, who is proud of the trade empire he has built within Milton and the mindset that the north boasts. The two are constantly thrown in each other's company and as Mr. Thornton grows to see Margaret's strong will and kind heart, he falls in love with her. 

    After a strike in which Margaret attempts to save his life and is injured in the process, Thornton proposes to her and is passionately rejected as Margaret voices her contempt of his character. As the story progresses, Margaret is forced to face more challenges as her mother becomes ill and eventually dies. Her father follows shortly behind and Margaret is left alone in the world with only one caretaker who bequeaths her all of his money and property before he too passes away. 

    Through her life's challenges, Margaret must learn to put aside her prejudices and look at the world through the eyes of others. Margaret slowly and steadily finds a balance between her conflicting emotions. In the end, her affection for her southern heritage, her family, the poor mill workers, and for Mr. Thornton all win and find a place within her. 

    This book runs along the same lines as Pride and Prejudice, only with a greater conflict and more gravity in its subplots. There are many twists within the story's progression. The deepest chasms between characters are caused by the smallest coincidences and cases of "bad luck." Irony and symbolism (my two favorite literary words) are both in abundance in this novel. I also found it interesting how this story follows both Margaret and Mr. Thornton individually so the reader gets the full benefit of experiencing the dramatic irony, unlike other novels such as Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. This book is truly a must-read in every way and I promise that you will be completely satisfied when you put it down. 

    The book has also been adapted into a BBC Miniseries that stays faithfully true to the novel and pulls at the heartstrings. This is one of the best miniseries' I've come across and it nails the characters perfectly, starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage (swoon) as Margaret and Thornton. Denby-Ashe truly embodies Margaret and Richard Armitage turns in one of his best performances as the dark and ruggedly handsome Mr. Thornton. The screenplay is also written by Sandy Welch, the same lady who adapted the 2006 Jane Eyre miniseries. :) 

    Here is a clip below, just to give the full effect. Enjoy :)