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Masterpiece Theatre: Jane Eyre

4.6 out of 5 stars 743 customer reviews

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(Feb 20, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house - the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart, but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness. When Jane saves Rochester from an eerie fire, she begins to suspect that there are many mysteries behind the walls of Thornfield Hall. Her fears are confirmed when Rochester's secret past is revealed, destroying her chance for happiness, and forcing Jane to flee Thornfield. Penniless and hungry, she finds shelter and friendship in the shape of a kind clergyman and his family. But she is soon shocked to uncover the deeply hidden truth of her own past. This lavish and sensual new version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel is modern and moody, timeless and romantic. Starring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester, Ruth Wilson as Jane, and Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram.


You may think the world doesn't need another adaptation of Jane Eyre--but you're wrong. This new and wonderfully lush Masterpiece Theatre version, directed by Susanna White (who directed the equally sumptuous miniseries of Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson), contrasts Jane Eyre's vivid inner life with the harshness of her outer life; both Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) as the young Jane and newcomer Ruth Wilson express the inner vitality of the outcast orphan girl whose spirit captures the heart of the rough, charismatic landowner Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens, Die Another Day). Stephens, it must be said, is far too conventionally handsome for the part, but he makes up for it by capturing Rochester's abrasive and mercurial temperament. (Wilson's looks are perfect; at one moment she seems awkward and homely, at another utterly luminous.) Jane Eyre is so often remade because the story is so potent; this production brings all of the novel's juice and passion to the fore, emphasizing the characters' sensual experience while staying true to the restrictions and mores of the period. All in all, exceptional. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens, Amy Steel, Jacqueline Pilton, Anne Reid
  • Directors: Susanna White
  • Writers: Charlotte Bronte
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: WGBH Boston Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 228 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (743 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000LPQ6DE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,250 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Masterpiece Theatre: Jane Eyre" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on February 25, 2007
Format: DVD
"Masterpiece Theater" has long been a benchmark in bringing quality British TV to American viewers. With a prestigious history, some legendary programs--including "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "I, Claudius"--have found acclaim, awards, and international audiences. Of late, "Masterpiece Theater" has been showcasing some ambitious literary adaptations with mixed results. Last season's high point, and a must for any lover of film, was the flawless adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House." A triumph in every regard, and featuring Emmy nominated turns by Charles Dance and Gillian Anderson, this program should be essential viewing for those that value literate, classy and wildly entertaining TV. This season's offerings have included "To The Ends Of The Earth" (an adaptation of William Golding's seafaring trilogy--'Rites Of Passage,' 'Close Quarters' and 'Fire Down Below'), a robust new version of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," a reimagining of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," and the swan song of Helen Mirren's Jane Tennison in "Prime Suspect 7."

What can one say about "Jane Eyre" that hasn't been said before? Being familiar with the novel and countless prior adaptations, I'll admit that I wasn't all that excited to revisit what I consider to be a very familiar tale. However, I diligently sat down to watch the latest 2 part "Masterpiece Theater" production. And, boy, am I ever glad that I did. While there are some liberties taken with the source material, that's to be expected. Anyone who envisions every adaptation of a novel to be a literal translation is denying the power of the film medium to create new and enduring art. In fact, it often annoys me when people carp on how something is different in lieu of accepting the merits of the interpretation.
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Format: DVD
For me the Timothy Dalton version could not have been bested, but I was wrong. The Dalton version,so faithful to the original novel is still excellent, though on re-viewing seems locked indoors and low-budget.

The Dalton version gave the story about 6 hours, with a substantial amount of time spent on Jane's childhood at the horrible boarding school.
Again, this was straight from the novel, but, let's face it, for those of us who know the story, we're waiting for her to grow up and meet Mr. Rochester.

Now, on to the current version. The story remains a great mixture of seething passion, frustrated hopes on both sides, and the struggle within one heroine between steely, virtuous, self-reliance, and a simple desire to be loved. Toby Stevens is younger than the hero is often portrayed, but still looks as if he's seen the world and fought against the unhappiness and cynicism that years of dissipated living can bring. He is handsome, but not pretty. Ruth Wilson's Jane is written as chaste but not priggish, lonely but eager to love, and, most especially, strong and independent, but in no way inappropriately feminist for the 19th century of the setting. If anything she's a bit more physically passionate than we've seen before, but it does make her seem more real.

The budget is high and it shows--lots of gorgeous outdoor scenes, beautiful period interiors , sumptuous gowns. Here and there there are some breaches of Victorian etiquette that don't ring quite true, and there are of course some deletions and skimping on some of the story lines,particularly with the Rivers family. However, I think once the decision was made to have this fit into 4 hours, the plot choices they made were mostly good ones.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I thouroughly enjoyed this production on PBS. As I was poking around on Amazon to see what others thought, I noticed a few negative reviews. These negative reviews, it seems to me, can be grouped generally under one heading: So-and-so in the movie wasn't true to so-and-so in the book.

So this weekend, after seeing the production for the second time, I reread the book (I had read it in high school, but not at the level of attention it deserved). So as I read, I kept in mind the question: Is this movie version true to the book? So here are my observations:

First, Wilson and Stephens do, generally speaking, seem to match the physical descriptions of Jane and Rochester. Rochester, if memory serves, is most often described as broad-chested, with a large forehead, and stern mouth (among other things). It seemed to me that Toby Stephens fit this description within reason. Ruth Wilson also seemed to fit well as Jane. So when I was reading the book, I never had a red flag go up--in other words, at no time reading the book did I feel as though either Toby Stephens or Ruth Wilson made a counterfeit Rochester or Jane.

Some reviewers said that Stephens wasn't brooding enough. However, if you read the book, especially during Jane's first few months at Thornfield, you find Rochester to be moody, yet never missing an opportunity to keep Jane off balance, playing devil's advocate with her, and generally enjoying a good verbal sparring match that includes, yes, a spirit of playfulness. And so in this respect, I thought that Stephens captured this element of Rochester's character with great skill. You could really see that although Rochester's sprits are lifted by Jane's presence, he soon remembers the chains that bind him.
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