Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Jane Eyre (1943)

As you may or may not know, I have said before that Jane Eyre is not my favorite book. I don't dislike it either. I remembered watching this version a long time ago and remembered that it wasn't very close to the book. I saw that it was on Netflix and I thought I would watch it and review it.

Box Art
Taken from my review of Jane Eyre (1996)
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.

A couple of old Hollywood actors are in this movie. Famous actor Orson Wells played the part of Mr. Rochester. Also, in an uncredited role was Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns.

The way that they set up this Jane Eyre is that there is a book that is being written by Jane. The problem that I have with this is that it isn't Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte. The famous line "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day" is nonexistent. Instead, it starts off with, "My name is Jane Eyre. I was born in 1820, a harsh time of change in England..." etc., etc. Throughout the movie, the book reappears with more quote that are not from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Now, I think that if you're going to do that approach with the book, you should actually have the original book that the original author wrote and not a made-up book of the same story.

Jane and Mr. Rochester's Wedding
Some characters were accurate, but others were not. Because of this, some scenes either had to be cut short or out all together in order to have the story make sense (and to fit the time allotted). One of the major changes was Jane's cousin, St. John Rivers, becomes a doctor that Jane knew since she was at Lowood. I got to say, Dr. Rivers was a lot more likable than the St. John Rivers in the book. Spoiler Because of this change, Jane finds out about her fortune at Gateshead when she is visiting the ill Mrs. Reed (after she left Mr. Rochester after discovering about Bertha). End of Spoiler

Joan Fontaine and Orson Wells were okay as Jane and Mr. Rochester, though I thought Joan Fontaine lacked some emotion. Margaret O'Brien as Adele was a little annoying (she had a weird, high voice). Blanche Ingram was, yet again, blond (but they weren't using the same book, anyways). I guess most of the actors/actresses were okay at best, but I wasn't incredibly impressed with any of the cast (okay, maybe Elizabeth Taylor as Helen, but she had such a small part).

Well, since it is a black and white movie, don't expect colorful scenery. The overall scenery was dark, which would go with the tone of Jane Eyre, whose tone is on the darker side.

Jane's wedding dress
Since it's in black and white, we really don't get to see how the film-makers used color. The costumes looked like they were out of the 1840s, leading me to assume that Jane was an adult in the 1840s. The film states that she was born in 1820, and in the book she was supposed to be 18 when she starts work at Thornfield, which would make the year about 1838... Still off by two years, but not horribly off... Unless they made Jane a couple of years older for the role...

Overall: 2/5
Well, in most cases this movie isn't Jane Eyre. I know it had a similar plot, but the book that they were reading/reenacting certainly wasn't the Jane Eyre I read in high school. There were a bunch of parts changed or deleted for time constraints and altered characters. If you like old-time Hollywood movies, you might enjoy this, but if you're looking for an accurate portrayal of Jane Eyre, keep looking.

Jane Eyre is available on DVD or Netflix. It runs for 97 minutes and has an approved rating.

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