Jane Eyre, 1996 movie

Jane EyreJane Eyre has always been one of my favorite books.  I think it may have been the first classic I read by choice.  I love the independent Jane Eyre and the mysterious Edward Rochester and the spookiness of Thornfield.  About 5 years ago they opened the musical on Broadway and I loved it.  The music and cast were wonderful.  I think I actually preferred the casting of the Broadway musical to that of this movie.

Anna Paquin plays young Jane Eyre who is orphaned, rejected by her aunt, and mistreated at the school for girls she is sent to live.  After she is old enough she accepts the position of governess at Thornfield and is immediately drawn in by the manor, her ward, Adele, and the master of the house, Edward Rochester.  Edward makes Jane jealous by bringing home a girlfriend, Blanche played by Elle McPhearson.  Jane doesn’t want to believe that Edward loves her and when she does she is crushed by betrayal.

I like the setting of Thornfield in the movie.  It is real and eerie.  William Hurt is Edward Rochester and Charlotte Gainsbourg is Jane Eyre.  They are both adequate, but not great.  I do not think that William Hurt captured the brooding Mr. Rochester.  Although the movie hits the major plot points of the book I think it neglected to show how Jane and Edward fell in love which is the whole point of the book!

This is the first movie adaptation of the book I’ve watched and cannot recommend it.  It does make me curious to check out the other adaptations and see if they did it better.

5 thoughts on “Jane Eyre, 1996 movie

  1. Aidan Brack says:

    I think I would agree with a lot of what you write here. Ultimately I am not sure Jane Eyre really contracts well to a 2 hour running time – the parts they inevitably cut out are those that give this particular romance much of its character.

    Without some of the more minor scenes Rochester and Jane both seem flat and I think you’re spot on that we just never see them falling in love here.

    That said, compared with the other Jane Eyre films I would say that this is the best. The Colin Clive 1930s one is cute but ultimately has little of the novel in it, nor are the Welles or Hinds versions particularly thrilling.

    If you have the time I’d recommend checking out one of the TV adaptations – either with Jayston, Dalton or Toby Stephens. They’re all more interesting and complete than this and the novel really benefits from a four or five hour running time.

    Thanks, Aidan! Next time I’m working at the library I’ll have to see what mini-series/tv version they have.
    When I was watching it I didn’t dislike it, it just didn’t strike the same note as the book. And I really need my Rochester darker – in every way!

  2. Laura Essendine says:

    Thoroughly recommend Timothy Dalton as Rochester in the BBC adaptation. The production looks a bit dated by today’s standards but it’s so close to the original book with lots of Charlotte’s dialogue. A wonderful excuse to wallow on a winter’s evening.

    The leads are a bit too good looking but that’s my only criticism.

    Laura Essendine
    Author – The Accidental Guru
    Read the first chapter for free

    Thanks for the recommendation 🙂 I liked the BBC production of Pride & Prejudice so I’ll have to request this. I can see Timothy Dalton as Rochester.

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