Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jane Eyre Film Adaption

When I was a little girl I watched the 1944 movie version of Charlotte Bronte's book Jane Eyre. The movie starred Joan Fontaine as Jane, Orson Welles as Rochester and a young Elizabeth Taylor as Jane's best friend Helen Burns. As a young girl the movie frightened me, especially the death of young Helen as she slept next to Jane. Truly one of the most heartbreaking scenes I've ever seen in film. Elizabeth Taylor was radiant and unforgettable even as a 12 year old girl. The movie also fascinated me...the British class system, the love story between a Governess and the Master of the Manor, Jane's triumphs against a terrible childhood and betrayal. I loved it all. Jane Eyre is perhaps the basis for my love of Regency historical romances.

When I was older I read the book by Charlotte as well as books by her sisters: Agnes Grey by Anne and Wuthering Heights by Emily. A good Gothic story is my favorite tale to read again and again and a good book to film adaption is my favorite to watch over and over.

So a few nights ago after reading about the Masterpiece Theatre adaption of Jane Eyre that was made for television in 2006, I rented the film and sat down with a cup of espresso to lose myself in Thornfield Manor. I wasn't disappointed. The book to film adaption was wonderful and has joined my top ten list which includes (in no particular order):

1. The 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth
2. The 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet
3. The 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen
4. The 2001 version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone starring Daniel Radcliffe
5. The 2006 Masterpiece Theatre version of Jane Eyre starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens
6. The 1939 film version of Gone With The Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable
7. The 1939 film version of Wuthering Heights starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier
8. The 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck
9. The 2001 film version of The Lord of the Rings
10. The 2001 film version of Bridget Jones's Diary starring Renee Zellweger

Funny thing happened while I was watching the DVD. Just at the part where Jane finds out about Rochester's crazy wife in the attic, just at THAT EXACT MOMENT, the DVD froze. I mean seriously, Jane was stepping into the attic and then the screen went black. The DVD had a scratch and wouldn't play. I was crazy, stomping around my house, trying to clean the dang DVD. Finally I calmed down (too much espresso at night=nutty Shannon) and watched the last 40 minutes or so of the film thanks to Youtube. Didn't miss a thing. So thank you Youtube! Whether you rent the film or watch it in 9 minute clips on Youtube (last choice only), it's a not to be missed book to film adaption.

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