Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Doodles

Yes, I'm still alive! I haven't really been around all that much, I know. The Jane Eyre rankings have been going very well and attracting a lot of attention, and most of the time I like for the hype from one post to die down before I start others. There's also the beginning of my new blog, which only requires short and sweet posts from me. This one requires thought, time, and effort. I was also ill with strep throat for most of last week, and I found myself too sick to even think of what to write about.

Anyway, I just dropped by to express my qualms about Edward F. Rochester. He's the hardest man to draw...it's quite ridiculous really. I've drawn the same Jane about three thousand times, but my Rochester always seems to change. I experiment, doodle here and there. Often times my Rochester drafts all have some feature that strikes gold, but doesn't accomplish the whole character. But then again, I never really established a cemented vision for Rochester. I established the actor I wished would play him, but I don't think that Richard Armitage is necessarily (look-wise) the Rochester prototype. Therefore, I've decided to doodle until I find out what that cemented vision is.

Keep in mind that it's only a doodle. Anything done in pencil is counted to be a mere preliminary sketch by me. I prefer not to do anything final in pencil, and my goal is to one day draw my Rochester with charcoals if the one who satisfies my vision ever comes around.






Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just an Announcement

A few months ago, I created the blog "Happiness in Hightops" which I abandoned after a while. Somehow I didn't feel like it was doing what I hoped it would do. Now I've reopened my venture in a new blog called On Page Whatever. Many of you have come to know me as the teenager I am rather than just the writer posting on Jane Eyre. I'd really appreciate it if you'd check out this blog and follow me. There is more to me than the "Lit Lover" you see here. This new blog will rang a LOT of topics that will always be open for comments and it would mean the world to me if you took the time to follow it and watch me grow as I have since I started this blog. Thank you. 

Top 10 Jane Eyre "Reunion Scenes"

I believe I ought to begin this post by apologizing for what seems to me to be neglect. I haven't posted since last week as I've been drowned with homework during the approaching end of the school quarter. There hasn't been a night that I haven't been up past midnight writing essays for European History or outlining the chapter for my US History class. Now with the weekend under way I feel as if I'm once again able to return to you rejuvenated and ready to write. Therefore, the Jane Eyre rankings will continue with the beloved "Reunion Scene".

The reunion scene is the hardest to rank or grade because it is interpreted with such variance depending on the movie. I'd like to say that the "Reunion Scene" encompasses Jane's return as well as Rochester's following second proposal, but (as many of you well know) a few adaptations don't include Rochester's second proposal. This created a bit of a challenge for me. Should I look at the reunion scene as I always have, or should I allow those few films without a definite proposal equal footing? It was a hard decision to make. Either I'd have to interpret the "reunion scene" as the reunion only and not credit the films with a second proposal for being truly faithful to the novel or I'd have to include the second proposal which would give the films without it a seriously bad grade.

In the end I opted for the first option. Therefore, the rankings of the reunion scene will be based on the reunion alone. The reason for arriving to this decision is really simple, actually. Of the ten popular Jane Eyre adaptations, seven of them don't include the second proposal. It's quite baffling really, but it makes perfect sense. The only adaptations that have the second proposal are all four-hour TV adaptations courtesy of BBC (the 1973, 1983, and 2006). After coming to that realization it seemed a lot easier for me to take the reunion scene literally and focus on the actual reunion.

As usual, comments are always welcome. I have a feeling that this post is going to be a bit more debatable because many of you will probably end up viewing the reunion scene as I normally view it: reunion and second proposal combined. I entreat you, however, to narrow your gaze and judge it a bit differently.

#10: Jane Eyre 1934


There are tears of laughter flooding my cheeks right now. I must have had to type that previous sentence five different times because I'm laughing so hard. There's really nothing to say. This was ridiculously horrible and outrageously funny. "I've brought your tea Edward!" Goodness, I wish I could give it a G instead of an F! Maybe an "F minus minus" will do.
Grade: F- - 


#9: Jane Eyre 1949


It peaked at number eight in the "leaving scene" rankings, but it's back where it began. The era still wasn't advanced enough to utilize make-up scars or eye discolorations so they used the good old "Rochester staring into space" technique. This reunion was also rather laughable, but still slightly touching in the cheesiest of ways. It even used a half a quote from the book. Of course, that won't save it from being an "F". I'm so glad that Charlton Heston eventually matured into a convincing and talented actor, but I'm even happier that this particular role remained rooted in obscurity. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted too many people to see it.
Grade: F

#8: Jane Eyre 1996


I'm aware that I might appear too harsh on this version, but I can't help the way I see it. It didn't deliver in any of the other pivotal scenes and the overall tone of the film didn't change a bit here. William Hurt is just too "blah" to be Rochester. His healthy take on the character was already sleepy, but now that Rochester is blind he might as well be dead. There's no life in Hurt's performance, only the same languidness we saw throughout the length of the movie. He does not seem as if he's at all surprised, happy, or even emotional about having Jane back in his arms again. Then again, with Charlotte Gainsbourg turning in a sad last scene like that, it's hard to really cultivate anything on your own. It deserves an "F" but I'll add a plus to that just because I feel sorry.
Grade: F+


#7: Jane Eyre 1944

It took a big drop from previous rankings, obviously. It just wasn't right. Not to say that the breakneck kiss supported by the passionate sounding of trumpets wasn't enjoyable, because it was actually pretty nice. There was just so much missing. The lack of dialogue wasn't really the problem, but rather the lack of faithfulness. Actually, I can't even put a finger on what was really wrong with this scene, but something about it just was. There weren't a lot of lines to begin with, but the lines that were present weren't taken from the novel. The whole ruined Thornfield thing didn't really bother me either. I  guess the real reason why this version dropped was because, on the whole, the reunion scene actually makes for a competitive ranking and a lot of the scenes from other films were just better. 
Grade: D+

#6: Jane Eyre 1973

This adaptation was once again ranked in the bottom half (though slightly higher than last time) because it was just weird. Jayston seemed so eccentric and...WEIRD! My friend even commented that it seemed like he was on some kind of psychedelic drug (her words, not mine). Really? I was expecting more. This version wasn't actually that bad. In fact, it was faithful and pretty solid. It just didn't work in these last few minutes. I felt no chemistry between the two leads. There was a horrible sense of nothingness. Yet, there were seconds of beauty intermingled with the overall state of strangeness. That moment after Sorcha's eyebrows have once again gone to the roof of her head as she wonders if she's "playing the fool", she withdraws herself from him and in a state of slight panic Michael cries, "No, don't leave me!" It was enough to coax a little "aww" from my mouth and even provoke a slight smile. Those few seconds of need were priceless in a scene that otherwise fell flat. 
Grade: C-

#5: Jane Eyre 1997 

In retrospect, this is the highest the 1997 has ever made it in any of my rankings. I guess I'm just a sucker for tears, especially when it comes from men. The whole idea of a strong and masculine figure such as Rochester leaking at the eyes is irresistible to me. That being said, however, the first part of this reunion scene was an utter mess. Ciaran Hinds is just intent on being cranky for most of this movie. But during those last two minutes when Samantha Morton asserts herself, takes the reigns, and says, "I will never leave your side again" he becomes a completely different person. That inflamed eye of his (props to the makeup crew there; the blindness seemed very realistic) leaks one tear and then thousands more follow until he's just sobbing in Jane's consoling embrace. Not to mention that when he says, "My heart will burst for want to see your face" my eyes filled to the brink. Now that is the need that a Rochester should feel! 
Grade: C+

#4: Jane Eyre 1970 

Utter lack of faithfulness in every aspect, and yet it never ceases to make my cry. And I'm not talking about tears that just settle on the tips of my lashes. When I say "cry" I mean there are always tears running down my cheeks after this scene. It's just wonderful. George Scott has his eyes closed throughout the whole scene (one of them has a scar on it but you can't see it until the close angle) and yet there is so much emotion! The way he inclines his head slightly when he hear's Jane's voice and how he calls her name twice is gorgeous. His every movement is cautious and gentle, as if he's afraid that she might be a mere figment of his passionate imagination. Opposite him, Susannah's performance isn't amazingly remarkable, but it is good. I'm a big believer in the idea that the reunion scene should be (on the majority) Rochester's show. Jane is supposed to be the stable one. In the novel every emotionally-charged word uttered by our main man is greeted with a practical and matter-of-fact response from Jane in order to assure him of her reality. Therefore, most of the emotional intensity really comes from Rochester though Jane does have to have an appropriate amount of warmth (better than that given by Charlotte Gainsbourg or Sorcha Cusack). 
Grade: B+

Note before we get to the top 3: Could I just call it a tie between the top three? This has to be the hardest decision I've ever had to make! I've watched each clip over and over and I just can't seem to figure out which order I want to rank the last three adaptations in. Each makes me cry. Each has its decided strengths and weaknesses. I just don't know which one is first! Forgive me if you think I did wrong, but in the end I stuck to my gut and did what I thought was best. 



#3: Jane Eyre 2011
I'm really sorry, but there isn't an available Youtube video on this particular scene in the movie. Just trust my judgment. Most of you have probably seen it anyway. 

I think that this is the lowest I've ever ranked the 2011. Dear readers, I ranked it thus only for you. If it had been up to my personal tastes alone, this leaving scene probably would have been first or second. I break down into complete sobs whenever I watch this scene. There is such gentleness; such beautiful silence that inhabits this scene. It is the simplicity that makes it so breathtaking. That small gasp issued by Rochester when Jane's hand makes contact with his, as if he has been shocked by some kind of spark! The way Mia's Jane leaks tears onto his hand as she leads it to her face! That simple "a dream" whispered by him as he takes her into his arms and she nestles her head on his chest! Of course, when Mia whispers that last line, "Awaken then." The shaking of Rochester's shoulders as he represses tears! The last contented sigh he gives, and then the realization of reality followed by the closing of his eyes. Just picturing it in my head brings tears to my eyes! This reunion scene is hands down my absolute favorite, but I ranked it third in order to please you, my faithful readers. There is a pretty unattractive beard involved that isn't true to the novel. There is no injury of the hand. In fact, there isn't even a scar to the eye. Of course, you can tell that he's blind because of the discoloration, but technically there's supposed to be a scar. It also doesn't take place inside. I personally liked that particular artistic license taken. The beauty of Rochester waiting under that ruined (and symbolic) tree under which he proposed to her physically manifests the metaphor ("I am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut tree") presented in the novel. There's also a lack of dialogue that many Jane Eyre puritans won't receive to warmly. Oh well. Just know that in my heart, this scene is ranked first. 
Grade: A


#1: Jane Eyre 1983


I did what I thought best to do. In my mind the 1983 and 2006 are both so amazing that I really cannot choose between them. The 1983 was beautiful; perfect in every aspect. There isn't a detail left out. That moment when Timothy envelopes Zelah in his arms...priceless. Not to mention that when he says "A free woman?" with hope welling in his breast as she tells him how independent she is, I could die and go to heaven. It's exactly what's described in the book. Rochester speaks imperiously at first and begins to slowly break down into dependence as he realizes that Jane is truly there. All the while Jane is just ambling along in conversation as if she hasn't been gone at all. Zelah breaks out of her reserved shell and actually emits genuine emotion that creates a spark of chemistry between her and Timothy. He isn't pulling the weight of the adaption on his shoulders anymore. The two meshed well, acted well, and certainly pulled out something great. There is such passionate subtlety, screaming silence, peaceful agitation. Yes, there were way too many oxymorons in that last sentence, but they were all packed into this scene!
Grade: A+



#1: Jane Eyre 2006 

This was a beautiful reunion. The quickness with which Toby's Rochester jumps to find Jane's hand the minute he hears her voice just sends palpitations fluttering through my heart. Even in his state of dependence, Rochester's masculinity and quickness still shines through in everything he does. His voice is tender; cautious as if he is unsure whether he speaks with shadow or substance. But his strength (as Jane says in the novel) isn't quelled. He pulls her lovingly into his arms, presses his cheek to hers. He does everything to assure himself of her reality. And then Ruth Wilson kisses him and he cries, "You indeed torment me!"As that one tear slides perfectly down his scared cheek, my heart wells. Jane teases him, saying, "unless you prefer I go" and he clutches eagerly at her, holding her even tighter in his needing embrace. Ruth does a splendid job herself. She is practical, as Jane should be. However, she also has this motherly romantic quality to her during the scene that makes her endearing, such as when she kneels and kisses is hand, cheek, and forehead. She sits on his lap as they engage in after-dinner flirtation. Rochester is still rather restless, but we feel things returning to normal. He laughs as if he hasn't laughed in a long time, and when she announces that she has to go to bed, he seems scared. That is the Rochester I imagine. He is afraid that she might never come back if she leaves that room. And then she consoles him with a loving (and chaste kiss) and a smile returns to his lips. Even then, as she withdraws from his arms he holds her hand until he can reach it no more. This scene probably wasn't as  spot-on faithful as the 1983, but it captures the relationship between Jane and Rochester down to a science. 
Grade: A+





Monday, October 10, 2011

"Rochester" by J.L Niemann Review

My first experience with this Jane Eyre adaptation came around two years ago, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, I believe that I was much too young to stumble on this book at the time. Yes, it is a literary derivative technically based on the '06 adaptation of Jane Eyre rather than the novel itself, but it roams decidedly off of the beaten path.

I can start by saying that the book is beautifully written. Whoever our author is (whether J.L be male or female), they are certainly skilled with a pen. The dictional and grammatical beauty of the novel can't be denied. There is such artistic ability in the way the author manipulates words to provoke emotion in the reader. I've always been a sucker for descriptive writing. It paints a mental image; brings the story before me in lifelike clarity. J.L Niemann does just that. 

But can I say that this adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel is faithful? Absolutely not. I could say (as I said above) that it roams off the beaten path, but it is so very different from the original that it essentially creates a path of its own. In fact, this book is a completely different story with no actual resemblance to Jane Eyre other than the names of the characters and the location. Sure, there are a few borrowed lines here and there, but other than that the plot of this novel takes Jane Eyre into a completely different realm that Charlotte Bronte would never have envisioned (interpret the latter comment in whatever light you wish). Whereas other spin-offs were actually measurable with the source material, the events in Rochester are unable to be matched to those in Jane Eyre

There are details in this novel that are much too uncharacteristic of the Jane that Charlotte created centuries ago. Even Rochester himself is made into a different man. These alterations are not so much because of changes to the essences of the characters, but rather the actions they perform. The sexuality of Rochester is so blatant that it takes away the believability of the story. Rather than taking Jane Eyre and turning it into a autobiographical account of the novel through Rochester's eyes, Niemann rearranged everything and made the novel into a story dwelling much too heavily on Jane and Rochester's sexual intrigues. The descriptiveness that so captivated me in the first few pages of the novel metamorphosed into the book's own worst enemy, and in truth, by the time I was done with it I felt as if I had just witnessed literary pornography.  

Am I too young to read something so sexually advanced? You could argue "yes" and I might actually agree with you. However, I read Jane Eyre's Husband without a problem, and that too had descriptive sexuality. The difference between the two spin-offs is vital, though. In Jane Eyre's Husband, Tara Bradley's descriptions of Jane and Rochester's sexual pursuits only take place after the wedding, therefore preserving the piety that Charlotte Bronte's Jane was meant to have. Though the characters in Rochester didn't indulge in "the real deal", sexual activity was abundant. Let's be honest with ourselves. Do you think that the real Jane, the one who wouldn't even allow Rochester to take her into his arms after the discovery of his wife, the one that hesitated to even shake his hand, would give Rochester a hand job or let him even put a finger on the buttons of her nightgown (much less slip his hand under it)? NO. 

Perhaps it is the Jane Eyre puritan in me, but I see no value in saying that a book is "based" on another book and then making it into something that has no resemblance to the source material whatsoever. However, there is a slight internal battle within me. Though I criticize this book as decidedly unfaithful, when I examine it independently (without trying to compare it to the original novel), it isn't all that bad. The problem with that is that you have to recreate the characters all over again and imagine them as completely different people than they were before. If you're a diehard Jane Eyre puritan, you might not want to trouble yourself with the discomfort. In that case, I wouldn't suggest you read the book. It would only anger you, or at best disappoint you. However, if you're an inventive reader that thinks you can take the elasticity with which J.L Niemann stretches the original novel, then knock yourself out. It might not be too bad. 

Where am I? My opinion is undecided. This is only the first installment of a three-part series. I thirst for part two not so much because part one was tantalizing, but because I wonder if it might make me love it more or like it less. Right now I'm in that strange and uncomfortable place in between, almost as if I'm sitting on the crease between two seats rather than in one or the other. J.L Niemann might be onto something, but the risk is huge and the heights are great. Rochester could either take a steep fall or an atmospheric flight. 

Have any of you read it? If so, what do you think?