To Eyre is Human

"I had not intended to love him. I have wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and no, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me." 

Full disclosure Charlotte Brontë fans: I have never read Jane Eyre.  Everything I'm about to state is merely from the point of view of a delighted movie-goer, not a well-versed Brit lit aficionado.
Cary Fukunaga (who also directed Sin Nombre) gives us a visual stunner and soulful drama in her version of Jane Eyre.  The narrative is one you no doubt know.  Ultimately, it is a Cinderella story: girl is orphaned, has a tragic youth and after tribulations, meets her prince.  It is part coming-of-age epic, part romance and part proto-feminist masterpiece.
But, what Jane (played by Mia Wasikowska) brings to the age-old story is more heart.  Not the glassy-eyed princesses or unrequited lovers of so many works of fiction or film, this Jane with her words (or actually Miss Brontë's) and her porcelain features engages viewers on a deep emotional level.  Like her love, Mr. Rochester, we connect to our heroine's soul.  So rarely does a film enthrall us as careful listeners.  So infrequently does a director allow us to take in the script and absorb the phrases.  But, Jane Eyre demands and gratifies our full visual and auditory capacities.
One of the genius directorial choices on the part of Fukunaga is the simplicity of the cinematography.  At times, I felt I was watching a painting.  A solitary house on a hill or an expansive foggy moor speaks to the English love of landscape (à la J.M.W. Turner or John Constable).  Other moments, the soft contemplative mood and restrained elegance of Jane recalled the Pre-Raphaelites like Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.  
Because of the visual perfection of Jane Eyre and the masterful performances of its actors, I was reminded again of the beauty of film.  For two hours, I was complicity trapped in foggy, moody, wonderful eighteenth-century England.  For just a moment this afternoon, I was spellbound by the way Jane and her Edward could ignite the screen with just a touch of the palm or a look of longing.  As the melancholic music accompanied the final credits, I wanted just a little more of their love story.  


  1. Pink Frenchie,

    You must read Jane Eyre and then Jean Rhys' excellent Wide Sargasso Sea.

    This slim novel is told from the point of view of the first Mrs. Rochester, a.k.a. the madwoman in the attic, the Creole beauty from Jamaica, who burns down Thornfield Hall. A detail that would no doubt please Charlotte Bronte: Jane and Antoinette share many similarities. Both had troubled childhoods. Both are poor and with few options in a hierarchical, class-structured society that finds them unworthy. Antoinette is more rebellious than Jane and less mentally stable because of her experience as a poor white colonial in a run-down plantation after the emancipation of the slaves in Jamaica. In this decaying world order, Antoinette is forced to marry the Englishman and leaves tropical Jamaica for cold, damp England. Mistrusted by her huband and caught in a failing marriage in a land she finds inhospitable, Antoinette, not surprisingly, goes mad. A fabulous companion to Jane Eyre -- a must read!

  2. I appreciate your art history eye toward films, a unique perspective. Looking forward to more reviews like this one. LOVED the film!

  3. What do you think Kate Middleton's first thoughts on meeting Prince William were? We know he was smitten by her walk down the runway in that diaphanous gown. Although from a wealthy middle class family, Kate is a modern-day Cinderella. Jane Eyre too is a Cinderella story.

    For me, the union of Kate and Will seems at last the happy fulfillment of Diana's legacy: her son is marrying for love to a woman he has loved for some eight years. He is not marrying in his thirties like his father did to a beautiful nineteen-year old, aristocratic beauty he hardly knows. As soon as Kate and Will have a baby, we will all smile thinking of how happy Diana would have been.

  4. I've been catching up on your blog, and had to comment here--I finally had a chance to see Jane Eyre this weekend, and agree with your opinion. And this is from someone who claims JE as her favorite book, ever. I think my favorite screen adaptation may still be the 2006 BBC version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens, but Mia was AMAZING. And the quiet cinematography was simply gorgeous, as well as the completely evocative music and foley.


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