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on March 27, 2000
This is the 3rd adaptation of Jane Eyre I saw. I liked this one more than 1983 and 1996 versions, because the characters were very likable, and the passion on screen was moving. Some reviewers found Ciaran Hinds stiff; I disagree. He was a wonderful Mr. Rochester, as was Samantha Morton a perfect Ms. Eyre. This is something you would want to watch over and over again, if you are a romantic person, preferably an Austenite. However, the adaptation is really loose, and important details from the book are omitted. So if you are looking for a faithful adaptation, or watching the movie to avoid reading the book, this is not the one. 83 version is very loyal to the book, but they are almost reading from the book. 96 version is generally loyal, but the omitted parts are the romantic parts, so where is the fun? This one is the best one I have seen until now, but I will keep looking for a miniseries that includes all the main details, and brings the passion in the book alive. (I am not obsessed with loyalty to the book in general, but Jane Eyre is a perfect book, and I miss all the parts that are left out.)
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on December 24, 2003
Cirian Hinds and Samantha Morton are wonderful actors, but why didn't the screenwriters even glance at Charlotte Bronte's book when they wrote this screenplay? It was a very strange experience to see some of my favorite characters of literature saying and doing things that weren't even remotely connected to the story. Rochester screaming at Jane to leave Thornfield? Jane and Rochester shopping downtown for wedding clothes and "bumping into" Blanche Ingram? I don't think so! Not only did the screenwriters make up entirely new scenes, the dialogue in familiar scenes was often totally unrecognizable. I watch film adaptations to see my favorite characters and scenes fleshed out, not given a major overhaul.
Two things they got right -- the age difference and chemistry between Rochester and Jane (although Samantha Morton is too pretty. Come on! She can't be pretty Harriet Smith in the A&E version of "Emma" and plain-Jane Eyre in this movie!) If you just like to watch good acting, you might like this. But if you, like me, are a fan of the book, this is a very jolting and unpleasant ride.
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on December 16, 2003
"Faithfulness" in movie adaptations of literary works is admittedly a subject of much debate. Personally, I found this version of Jane Eyre disappointing in the adaptation of both story and character. As many other reviewers of this DVD, I have seen almost every adaptation of Jane Eyre in film. When viewing a two hour movie, one expects a great deal of plot manipulation to fit both the time frame and the personal view of the director. Hampered by a poor screenplay that slaughters Bronte's language, this version completely fails to capture the novel. Both the screenplay and the language conspire to alter the characters beyond recognition--especially in the case of Rochester who appears as nothing more than an ill-mannered, mean, crude boor with pent up sexual frustrations. This is not a knock to the acting abilities of either Samantha Morton or Ciaran Hinds who have both appeared in other works to their credit. As written and portrayed, both characters become far more static than in the novel and the movie's own obsession with the concept of "obsession" not only misrepresents Bronte's novel, but becomes a superficial excuse to ignore the real layers of Bronte's work and still appear "deep" or "cutting". A better pick for a two hour experience would be the 1996 Zeffirelli adaptation with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt. Though problemetic itself and doing less justice to Jane's character, William Hurt's performance as Rochester is more valid than Hinds. This in itself salvages a great deal of the movie.
Any true admirer of Bronte's Jane Eyre must see the BBC miniseries with Zelah Clarke as Jane and Timothy Dalton as Rochester. Be warned--this is NOT a MOVIE experience. The viewer will not be inundated by panoramic camera shots or overwhelmed by emotion from the amazing orchestral score. It is a long miniseries with little musical accompaniment or visual manipulation meant to interperate the story for the viewer. In this sense, it may not be for everyone. It is a faithful representation, almost word for word, of Bronte's novel. The 4 or so hours consigned to VHS already cut a great deal of what was actually originally aired but leave the story almost entirely entact and with almost no additional or created material. Furthermore, anyone who wants to see the characters move from page to screen with true understanding and depth needs to watch this version. While Clarke's portrayal might be more subdued than some may prefer, it is still thoughtful, contextual, and intricate. Dalton, for his part, is the living embodiment of Rochester--complex, often a paradox, passionate in all senses. His understanding of both the character, the story, and the period is evident.
If you are a Jane Eyre fan who wants to experience the book visually---find the BBC VHS miniseries. If you're a fan of the romance who wants to watch a movie, try anything else but this DVD--the 1996 Zeffirelli, the George C. Scott, or even the black and white version with Orson Wells, all of which, in spite of their difficulties, manage to give at least an experience which doesn't offend the novel.
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on February 24, 2005
This production on A&E was my introduction to the greatest actress I've ever seen, the incandescent, fearless, intense and radiant Samantha Morton. At that time, her Jane Eyre was the greatest performance by an actress I'd ever seen -- and I'm fairly savvy and discriminating, Peggy Ashcroft being the greatest I'd ever seen till I saw this tv film. Many of the reviewers here seem to miss the point. It doesn't matter whether the script is a scrupulous adaptation or not, or whether this actress is too plain, too pretty, or even if her interpretation doesn't match the picture of this famous literary heroine which you've got in your head. The point is her incomparable performance -- what Shakespeare called "the thing itself." Her greatest gift, among so many, is her seemingly effortless capacity, quietly and with extraordinary discipline and restraint in one so young (18 or 19 at the time), to break our hearts. There's no one with comparable power and it is her gift to us, "a largesse universal, like the sun." How Shakespeare would have loved her.
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on October 24, 1999
This version of "Jane Eyre" with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds is truly the absolute best, most heart-wrenching one I have seen. The William Hurt and Timothy Dalton versions bored me to tears. This was the first "Jane Eyre" film I have seen where I was weeping at the end. The actors have a true gift for bringing out the emotions of the characters. It was truly superb, unbelievably moving and achingly beautiful.
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on June 22, 2004
As a huge fan of the novel, I was very excited to try and find a film that would do it justice. I had read the reviews of this particular version, and in spite of some severely negative opinions, I decided to give it a try anyhow.
Well, let me just say to those with the poor reviews: "I concur!!"
The child actors who play young jane and young Adele are not good at all. Additionally, the character Adele - who is SUPPOSED to be 10 - looks to be at least 12 year old! It was ridiculous.
Samantha Morton who portrays our heroine, Jane, does an fair job in the role. She could have been a bit less attractive...yes, that's right, folks, just because a woman doesn't wear make-up and have a fancy hair-do doesn't necessarily make her unattractive! Her portrayal of Jane was a little too impertenant. Yes, Jane had spirit and professed her opinions honestly when asked, but the adult Jane was not openly confrontational and defiant in the way she was sometimes acted in this movie. Her character was not done justice.
Cirian Hinds physically was a good Mr. Rochester, in my opinion. He looked the part of the unattractive - even could be called ugly by some - large boned, tall man. (I have seen him in "Persuasion" where is is the dashing Captain Wentworth, and looked purty darn hot I might add! so kudos to his transforamation!) But it is a pity the likeness should end there. He was made far too mean. I don't remember him ever actually SCREAMING at Jane in the novel, yet he does it here frequently. In the scene where they first meet, and Jane startles his horse, causing him to fall (they changed the setting and dialogue greatly in this scene by the way), he begins to scream at Jane, demanding and insisting she help him although she declines.
Isn't this a bit backwards? Was Jane not the one insisting upon helping Mr. Rochester in the book??!
Anyhow, Mr. Rochester is a gruff, unpolished man towards her in the book, but they take it to extremes in the movie. He is downright, plain old mean.
Additionally, his feelings towards Adele are much different than they are supposed to be. In the book, of course, he is resentful of her presence and greatly irked by her. He sends her away at every opportunity and never bestows her any real affection. In the movie though, they have him asking for her, calling her to him, even setting her in his lap! And, remember, this girl they have playing the supposed 10 year old Adele is more like 12 or 13!! This makes for a fairly disturbing moment in itself!
They whiz through Jane's childhood with fair accuracy. Condensing her childhood to being locked in the "red room" then being shipped away to school to face typhus. It takes all of about 10 minutes for her to become 18 and leave to pursue her govenerss position. Everything flies by you. There are several scenes added in that are not in the book, but for the most part, it is done to provide the viewer background to better understand what is happening and why. These scenes are basically dialogue between secondary charcters.
There is a scene where Mr. Rochester takes Jane into town to shop for the wedding clothes, and the run into Blanche Ingram. That is the strangest addition - completely unnecessary, in my view!
Anyhow, after the wedding is called off, and Jane resigns to leave Thornfield, there is about 10 minutes of completely made-up dialogue between Jane and Mr. Rochester. He does, in the end, actually start screaming at her! He screams at her to leave!
Never - not in a million years! - would Mr. Rochester EVER tell Jane to leave!! He even throws her bag after her!
They once again whiz through her three days of homeless wandering and begging, and her year spent with the Rivers's. They completely leave out Maria Rivers's character altogether, and St. John is made a gregarious, pleasant, happy soul who smiles as he kindly asks Jane to marry him. They pack all this into about 5 minutes.
She rushes back to Mr. Rochester after hearing him call to her on the wind, and about five minutes later it's all over, folks.
As far as some critizism of Mr. Rochester's healthy appearence at this point in the film (other than his blindness and mangled left hand - which was SUPPOSED to be gone altogether!), the book specifically notes Mr. Rochester is physically as strong and robust as he ever was. Only his "countenance" has changed. He is brooding and sad. But physically, he is still strong and healthy looking. He is not supposed to look withered, sickly, and weak. In that part, they again do Mr. Rochester physical justice.
In conclusion, the film may have been better had it been longer. If they had more time to devote to the development of story lines, etc. My other HUGE gripe is that they used SO LITTLE of Bronte's actual dialogue!!! WHY???
AND they left out some VERY important scenes!
Just one example the springs to mind is the scene when Mr. Rochester is proposing to Jane. So romantic, so climactic! And yet, they not only use hardly ANY of the real dialogue, but the tree - the chestnut tree - is not struck by lightening! HELLO!! I'm not literature major here, but isn't that a prime example of what is called, 'foreshadowing'?? An indication of things to come?
They messed up one of the most romantic and climactic scenes in the entire book.
So, it's too short, hardly any dialogue is used, they change things that should not be changed, and add so many things that should not be added!
They have changed the characters' personalities and it has been for the worse. They took EXTREME artistic license in making this movie, and I DO NOT like it one bit!!
It's not even a good movie in itself. Even if you have never read the book or even heard of it...the way they rush through it all would leave a viewer completely confused. I was constantly having to explain to my husband what was happening and why.
Anyhow, I am not recommending it!
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on July 23, 2002
Well, I just watched this movie today again after not seeing it for a couple of years and again I loved it.
No, it is not as true to the book as some other versions, but it captures the spirit and tells the story in a very compelling, moving-it-along way. I enjoyed the rapid transitions, cut-aways and voice overs. It tells the story of the novel in a most interesting way.
I think Samantha Morton makes an excellent Jane Eyre. She really captures Jane's innocent yet vibrantly alive spirit. Morton exudes the very fairy-like, impish qualities that Mr. Rochester is always describing her as having in the book. I think she is the best Jane I have see portrayed although I do enjoy Charlotte Gainesborough's and Joan Fontaine's work as Jane as well.
Ciran Hinds did equally as well. I think the two actors really displayed the chemistry that existed potently between Jane and Rochester. This kiss under the tree was remarkable!
The settings and lighting in this version are much better than in the 1983 Timothy Dalton version. And although Hinds is quite handsome in Persuasion, he actually becomes the more unattractive Rochester in this movie. Dalton, although a powerful performance in the miniseries in which he played Mr. Rochester, could never really be considered "ugly." Hinds is a more credible Rochester and very true to Charlotte Bronte's novel.
I highly recommend and enjoy this version of Jane Eyre. Although not as true to the book as other versions, I think it included the most crucial scenes in a most convincing way. It was truly a fresh look at a classic and timeless novel.
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on January 8, 2008
This 1997 TV production is called "Jane Eyre", but except for a similarity to the plot of the novel there is preciously little in this film to remind you that you are indeed watching an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's literary masterpiece. How they managed to get every single character of the novel wrong - except for Pilot, who is well cast - is a complete mystery to me, but they did. This is the more a pity because with Samantha Morton and Ciaràn Hinds they had two good actors, who even physically fit their roles well, but, alas, the greatest talent is of no avail when the concept of the characters is as wrong as in this adaptation. Samantha Morton - young, delicate and plain enough - looks like Jane Eyre, but does not play Jane Eyre. Her Jane is far too bold, even disrespectful at times, self-confident and self-satisfied, bossy and pert. Gone is the interesting duality of Jane's character in the novel, her outward shyness, guardedness and modesty on the one hand and her fire and passion on the other. Morton's Jane speaks her mind boldly right from the beginning and never stops doing so throughout the film. There is no subtlety in her performance, her Jane undergoes no change and no development. The same is sadly also true for the character of Mr. Rochester. Believe it or not, but they indeed managed to turn one of the most interesting and complex figures of English literature into a brute and a bully. Luckily Ciaràn Hinds possesses some charisma, but otherwise nothing links him to the eloquent and fascinating character of the novel. Not the slightest attempt was made to explore the depths of Rochester's character, his many contradicting facets, his moodiness, his inner struggle, his humour and his tenderness. The Rochester of the novel is admittedly insolent and harsh at times, but never the unrefined, snarling brute Ciaràn Hinds makes him. Yet Hinds is even worse at playing the loving Rochester, and the only feeling he manages to convey is lust.

Unfortunately the misrepresentation of the characters is not limited to the leading roles: Blanche, besides being blonde, is not in the least haughty enough, not to mention the fact that she is nice to Adèle, St. John is all smiles and kindness, and the role of Mrs. Fairfax has been unnecessarily puffed up, probably due to the fact that she is played by dear Gemma Jones. Yet some scenes less with Mrs. Fairfax fussing around and some scenes more between Jane and Rochester would have been very helpful to make the audience understand why the two latter fall in love in the first place.

As far as language is concerned this production is another victim of the delusion of some scriptwriters who either think that they can improve on Charlotte Brontë's brilliant language or that her 19th century English has to be simplified to become digestible for a modern audience. The result is that the dialogues are severely changed or replaced by the scriptwriter's own banal lines. In either case they have lost all the charm, sparkle and brilliance of the dialogues in the novel. Poor misguided scriptwriter Richard Hawley even deemed it necessary to make Rochester introduce one of his most famous lines - the line about the string that inextricably binds Jane and him together - with the words: "I know it may sound silly but...." No, Mr. Hawley, if somebody sounds silly here, it is definitely NOT Charlotte Brontë'! Another capital error of judgement - and unfortunately also an insult to good taste - is the way they rewrote the farewell scene between Jane and Rochester after the aborted wedding, a scene, by the by, which in all the modern adaptations has received a particularly brutal treatment. Whereas in the latest Jane Eyre production of 2006 that scene was an outrage to Charlotte Brontë's Jane, the way the scene is handled in this adaptation is an outrage to Charlotte Brontë's Rochester. What? Rochester insulting Jane when she intends to leave him, bullying her, throwing her suitcase over the banister and telling her to go if she does not love him enough to stay? Absolutely ridiculous! It is hard to imagine what has gotten into the filmmakers to produce such rubbish as this.

This is the worst, but there are many others scenes which are similarly absurd and ludicrous: the first scene of Rochester galloping in slow motion through the mist before he falls into a brook, Grace Poole coming out of the lunatic's room to sniff at Mason's wounds like a wild beast, Rochester sitting on the top of an archway of Thornfield as if he were the court jester and Mason jumping on horseback over the church fence to prevent a marriage of which he has heard only heavens knows how.

Equally lamentable is the filmmakers' inability to represent the correct social behaviour of the 1850ies. Rochester and Jane are far too disrespectful to each other at first and later far too hot. Sentences like "I feel that your passions are aroused" are appropriate for "Sex in the City", but not for a costume drama, let alone Jane Eyre. Obviously the filmmakers decided not to bother at all - neither about being true to the novel, nor about portraying the novel's era accurately. The result is a sad failure - as both a film and an adaptation of Jane Eyre. The only fact with which the makers of this Jane Eyre can console themselves is that the BBC failed even worse in the subsequent production of Jane Eyre in 2006.
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on April 19, 2001
I was so excited when I heard A&E was doing "Jane Eyre," especially when I heard Ciaran Hinds was cast as Rochester. I thought that was perfect casting and that I would see something of the caliber of "Pride and Prejudice." I was bitterly disappointed! What a travesty!
My main objection is that the scriptwriter decided she could improve on Charlotte Bronte. Instead of sticking to the words in the book as closely as possible, she completely rewrote the dialogue. What arrogance! The result is that both Rochester and Jane say things that are completely out of character to anyone that's read the book. "I feel your passions are aroused"? I found myself screaming at the screen "he'd never say that!"
My second main objection was how Ciaran Hinds was directed to play Rochester. I blame the director because I've seen Hinds in many movies and know the range of emotion he can display. In this version he was essentially one-note: he shouts all the time. The ONLY time he softens is in the bedroom with Jane after the fire. That one scene showed me what could have been, and only sharpened my disappointment with the rest. What a sad waste of what could have been a marvelous production.
I did like Samantha Morton's Jane best of all the Janes (I've seen every version of this). I just wish she'd been given better dialogue to speak.
The Timothy Dalton version remains my favorite. Too bad Hinds and Morton didn't have that script and that director!
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on January 14, 2006
The William Hurt and Timothy Dalton versions of this movie were good. But, here's a Jane Eyre that I truly enjoyed. An orphan raised in an orphanage, arrives at Thornfield Hall to care for an orphan, and falls in love with her seemingly infallible employer. It is a classic that grips you since in the end, the characters overcome the worst and find true happiness.

The young Jane was fantastic with her willful impestuousness. Samantha Morton brought spunk and humor to her character and I found it refreshing. And, Ciaran Hinds gives a lighthearted yet dramatic performance which makes him the perfect, indomitable, unfathomable, mysterious Edward Rochester. The actors exquisitely portrayed the conflict of pain, love, and passion, so that this movie epitomizes what Bronte fans look forward to.
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