The Booksnob’s Blog

Books… the best, worst, & weirdest…

Jane Eyre (BBC)

The first instalment of a two-part BBC production of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre aired on the ABC last night. It’s always interesting seeing a new interpretation of a classic novel by a well-known author, and this one gets it mostly right. The sheer awfulness of Jane’s early life with her stone-cold aunt and mean cousins, and later at the dreadful Lowood School is evocatively portrayed.

Jane & Rochester Thornfield Hall, the home of her new master, Mr Rochester, is in a beautiful setting, although the house itself is portrayed as far gloomier than one imagines from the novel. One wonders how the producers will manage to make Ferndean Manor, Rochester’s later home, even more insalubrious than Thornfield.

Both lead actors are very well cast, although Toby Stephens as Rochester is perhaps more attractive than he ought to be. Miss Ingram, Rochester’s potential bride, is exactly as I imagine her, all fair English beauty and superficiality.

Some of the directorial tricks I found mildly irritating, such as Jane’s “I’ll never wash this hand again” antics after she shakes Rochester’s hand for the first time. Even if you haven’t already read the novel, it’s clear that she’s beginning to fall in love with him, so there’s really no need to be so obvious.

One also wonders why a completely new character has been inserted, in the form of the gypsy lady, with Rochester hiding behind a screen as he listens to her prophecies. In the novel, Rochester himself impersonates the fortune-teller, as a clever means of establishing certain information that he would have had difficulty in discovering otherwise. Never mind, it’s a movie, and I wait eagerly to see what Part II will bring, particularly what they will make of St John Rivers, Jane’s terrifyingly virtuous cousin.

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November 21, 2007 - Posted by | Fiction, TV Series | , ,

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