Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Jane Eyre (1996)

I first read Jane Eyre for summer reading for school one year and this was the first adaptation that I watched (which we coincidentally watched in class). I'm going to warn you now: Jane Eyre is not my favorite book; it's not the most uplifting book that I have read, and, this will be a bit of a spoiler, but I'm not quite sure what Jane sees in Mr. Rochester. But I rewatched this adaptation, and here's what I thought.

Box Art
Young Jane Eyre was sent away from her cruel Aunt Reed to go to school at Lowood school. Ten years later, she gets a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall, which holds many secrets.

Fans of Persuasion (1995) will recognize Amanda Root as Miss Temple and Samuel West as St. John Rivers. Other than those two, I don't think that there were other actors/actresses that I recognized from other period dramas

Charlotte Gainsbourg's Jane I liked. She was a very pretty Jane, yet she was able to appear plain. She was also able to portray Jane's quiet nature well and with emotion. Overall, I'm satisfied with this Jane; I just don't have too much to say about her other than I liked this version of Jane.

Jane meets Mr. Rochester for the first time.
Overall, Mr. Rochester irritated me, but I think that can be applied to any adaptation I see of Jane Eyre. His character always annoyed me: he was, for lack of a better term, a really big jerk in my opinion and he also very seriously lied; I know there are a lot of fans of his out there, but keep in mind this is just my opinion. As far as accuracy to the novel goes, I don't think William Hurt's portrayal was as accurate as it could have been; he was missing something that was in the novel that just didn't get translated to the movie.

The scenery is kind of dark most of the time. Or better yet, I should say that it's not as vibrant as other period dramas that I have seen. Lowood was very dark and dirty, which would be an accurate portrayal. Thornfield Hall itself is very dark, which would be fitting with the story. I didn't really care for the darker scenes, but it was fitting with the story.

There isn't much to say about the costuming. On the richer characters, the costumes were nice and pretty, but they weren't there for too long. Jane had very few dresses since she is a plain and humble character. The only thing that bothered me was this: when Jane was an adult, the gowns looked like they were from the 1840's, but ten years ago in Jane's childhood, the costumes did not look like they were from the 1830's, but still the 1840's. That was probably the only thing that irked me about the costumes. Overall, they were good, I guess.
Helen Burns and Young Jane about to get their hair cut.

Most of the music sounded very similar and didn't vary greatly. The music was very flowy and smooth. It had kind of a sad, beautiful tone to the music. It was nice music, but all the tracks seemed to be either the same song or very similar songs.

Overall: 2/5
This adaptation is not as accurate to the story as others, but it gets the overall point across. There were quite a few things changed from the novel, especially at the end. Jane Eyre isn't much of a favorite story with me, but this version is tolerable. I probably wouldn't rewatch it, but it wasn't as bad as some period dramas that I have seen.

Jane Eyre is available on DVD. It runs for 112 minutes.


  1. All I've seen is the 1985 (I think) really long version with Timothy Dalton as Rochester. Though you probably already knew that. :) While I can't say that the story is my top favorite, or even makes my favorites list, I don't dislike it either. It's a unique book, that's for sure!

  2. I want to see this movie SOO bad!! :( Mama and I were going to go see it in theaters, but...that never happened.
    I didn't know that Anna Paquin was in it! I've seen her in a few other movies...'Fly Away Home' and 'X-Men', included. I always remember her in 'X-Men' because she's wearing the same exact scarf that I have :P haha

    Keep the movie reviews coming! I love them :)

  3. The one other period actor I recognized (well, I recognized her later, when I looked her up on IMDB) in the movie is Leanne Rowe, who played Nancy in Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, and May Moss in the fabulous miniseries Lilies. She played Helen Burns.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your review because it was very objective.
    I agree with your comments on actres Charlotte Gainsbourgh. She's probably my favorite Jane Eyre because she is young and has that simple grace about her. She rarely smiles but her performance is full of heart.
    I also agree with you on Mr. Rochester, I've been having a hard time lately understanding why some ladies consider him their favorite literary hero. He really doesn't exhibit any of the traits that are essential for a hero and a gentleman! William Hurt's Rochester was a older than most and this made him a bit creepy. I also thought he was too moody and not jovial enough. But on the whole if I want to watch a Jane Eyre film this is the one I go to (I haven't seen the nested film yet). My family enjoys this version too so I watch it with them from time to time. I loved Amanda Root and Samuel West in this film, two of my favorite actors. Several of the events were mushed together or put out of order but I found this film true to the spirit of the story and visually stunning.

    That's interesting about the costumes and the time periods, I wonder if they considered that. Is it just Jane's costumes that are not in time period or is it the other actors as well? Because maybe they thought that grown up Jane wouldn't have the latest styles.

    ~Miss Laurie

  5. i didn't like this movie at all...and I'm a huge fan of Jane Eyre! :/ The beginning was good, but I didn't care for this Mr. Rochester, and I didn't like Jane much either. :/ I did like the newer BBC version, though! It had Georgie Henley in it.

  6. Miss Laurie,
    That's how I feel about Mr. Rochester in general. It seemed to me that he was too much of a jerk to Jane that I'm not sure why she would even like him; plus, he also lied to Jane, which I didn't like.
    I think it was the other actors costumes that were inaccurate. With Jane I allowed her clothes to not be with the current fashions since she's poor and also plain. But I noticed about the costumes early in the film on Mrs. Reed. I think the story starts in the 1830s, so she would have had the big sleeves that were popular during the 1830s, but instead she had 1840s fashion.

  7. Just a short post about my opinion on Bronte-adaptions:
    I like the Brontes but I think their novels aren't for the screen. It's because there is so much between the lines, there is so much unsaid - and somehow it seems it's impossible to transfer this into film. The characters will always appear strange or even absurd.
    With Jane Austen it is just the opposite - everything is in the dialouges and that's perfect for screen-adaptions.
    That's my opinion why Austen-adaptions are sooooooo much better!

    Silke (I posted once about my favourite period drama heroines)

    PS: I liiiike your page! Well done!

  8. I wasn't a big fan of this film. I watched it only once if I remember correctly. I love the novel but I am not much of a fan of the film versions (although I just saw the latest 2011 version and enjoyed it quite well)

    I also absolutely agree with you on the point of Mr. Rochester. In my eyes he is no hero (or gentleman for that matter) at all! but I think that is why I like the book so much- its very different, the characters especially. But in no way what-so-ever do I like Mr.Rochester- for me he always comes off as some type of tyrannical beast (...Ohh maybe that was a little harsh). But that being said I do love the story :)



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