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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre 2011

Edward Rochester … Michael Fassbender

Jane Eyre … Mia Wasikowska

Complete Cast

The Beginning:

Reader, I am a fan. On Friday night, when I should have been drilling political science theories into my resistant mind, I went to see Jane Eyre. It was not so much a matter of whether or not I had time (who does in college?) It was more about what number of my Jane-Eyre-loving friends could come with me.

I ended up going with two other lovers of 19th century novels, one of them an avid fan of Jane Eyre, with high expectations and whole chapters memorized. I promised her that, if she said lines along with the actors as she warned that she would, I would create a buffer between us (in the form of our third friend.) I dreaded hearing Rochester’s declaration of love suddenly develop an undertone of femininity from next to me. I did not carry through with the plan. As the seating arrangement went, my friend made endearing gasps and chest clutches throughout, while an older lady next to me showed some matured version of that same reaction (which manifested in orders to her husband to take back the popcorn and shushes all around.)

The Audience:

The theater audience, which consisted of mostly older couples, looked like they had probably read the book. They laughed at the right parts, many of which were more obviously funny in the book itself, so I took that as further evidence. But, watching a movie adaption of a book you love is sometimes not best to do with an audience. Unless you want that input, often unexpected.

The row behind us was very vocal.

After the fire scene, where the not-dead-thanks-to-Jane Mr. Rochester tries to convince Jane to stay – to have tea and crumpets, obviously, because that is what a lady does in the 19th century when she’s alone with a man…
Jane: (trying to get away) I’m cold.
Man Behind Us: (leer) I could warm her up.
Me: (imagining fifty-year-old man with beer belly) … D:

Character Observations:

Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska): Finally, an age-appropriate Jane Eyre! Here, she is actually young and only a couple of years older than Jane would have been. Physically, she is small, thin, delicate-looking, but plain as only celebrities can be (and by that, I mean gorgeous.) I wouldn’t dare go into an analysis of what made her a good Jane Eyre, since I haven’t read the book in a while, but I found her acting both subtle and strong. She’s up there as one of my favorite Jane Eyres, right behind Ruth Wilson (it’s difficult to beat the 2006 Jane Eyre in my mind.)

Rochester (Michael Fassbender): I found him less passionate and more scathing than some past interpretations, but then, I also have a love-hate relationship with this character. The first time I read Jane Eyre, I loved him, but the second time, his obsession with being cleansed by Jane’s innocence hit me. I still have that same discomfort with the concept of purity as something that’s catching.


I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. My favorite scene, by far, was his pleading with Jane after the Great and Dreadful Discovery. In my opinion, none of the other adaptations did as well with that scene as this Jane Eyre.

Complaints (!? Ohnoes !):

The sudden ending disappointed me. I feel that the whole point of the ending was not to say that Jane Eyre had come back to Rochester, but that Rochester’s spirit had been crushed by the whole Catastrophe, but that Jane was able to lead him back to becoming his old self again.

What Took me By Surprise:

Judi Dench gave Mrs. Fairfax some very funny reaction shots! I really enjoyed her part in this. In the scenes she had, she communicated her character’s different layers to the audience, and said more with the lines she had than many other actresses might have done.


Entertaining, definitely gothic, with a few frights – birds flying out of no where, creepy laughs in the hallway – and probably now in my top two favorite Jane Eyre adaptations (again, it really is hard to beat the 2006 television version.)

Clips on Teh Youtube

The After-Fire-And-Rescue Scene

The Confession / The Proposal

The Hypothetical Question

Mrs. Fairfax of Awesome

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  1. How does this rate against the Timothy Dalton BBC version? I really like the "Jane" in that (apologies to the actress for not remembering her name).

  2. @Naima Haviland

    The advantage I found with the Dalton version was that it was a miniseries, so there was soooo much more time for the plot and characters to develop. I always prefer the miniseries in that regard.

    This version is incredibly new and very attractive to what viewers expect in regard to production quality and fashion. Somehow, each decade manages to put their own values into the 19th century costuming. I preferred the 2011 Jane Eyre in that area.

    As for the Rochester, I love both Fassbender and Dalton, but 2011's Rochester moved way too quickly for my own taste. It was pretty clear what his intentions were with Jane during their first real meeting, and I consider that a speedy progression.

    I also did not like the Jane from Dalton's version. Her face remained extremely plain and heavy-lidded, while this 2011's Jane was a much better performance. So, in regard to Rochester's character, the BBC version, but in regard to chemistry, the 2011 version.

    THERE YA GO. :) My extremely lengthy comparison opinion.

  3. Thanks, Snarky! I'm eager to see the 2011 Jane Eyre. I'm really looking forward seeing the costumes and sets you praised, but I know I'm prejudiced in favor of both Timothy Dalton and his Jane Eyre -- I'll try to be fair!

  4. Hi Snarky :)

    I watched and watched my Netflixed 2011 Jane Eyre. It is hot hot hot. Fassbinder was very sexy. And Mia was so beautiful. The sets and costumes were fantastic (though I take issue with the huge leap in fashion from the Mrs. Reed scenes to the Blanche scenes. 10 years was not enough time to see the massive shrinkage of shoulder width and the dropping of waistline - but I'm an armchair fashion scholar).

    My beef with this version is the nonsensical substitution of great Bronte dialogue with modern simplifications. I was waiting for the great lines and someone would just come out with a lame approximation. It also could've been scarier. It seems the producer drew back for fear of running the movie longer, but we fans would have happily endured that.

    Oh and I do really like the way they made the main part of the story in flashback and the Rivers' finding Jane part of the beginning. I have always thought the flight and the Rivers sojourn to be the draggiest parts of the novel (sorry, Ms. Bronte, you know I love you).

    My 2 cents worth.

    P.S. You're right on about Judi Densch. Wow.