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The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.
The story of Jane Eyre, the plain quakerish governess is told from her childhood until she arrives at Thornfield Hall to tutor the young Adele. She finds herself intrigued by and attracted to Thornfield's owner, the dark, sardonic (natch) Mr. Rochester. But a dread secret resides in Thornfield Hall. Written by
Timothy Dalton considers this movie to be one of his best. See more »
Mr. Rochester is seated with a sprained ankle on the sofa as he attempts to draw Jane out. At first, Mr. Rochester's left leg is stretched out and his right is bent upright. When he tells Jane to play the piano in the next room, he is shown with his right leg stretched out and his left leg is bent. When Jane re-enters the room, his leg is switched again. See more »
Edward Fairfax Rochester:
I wish at times I were a trifle better adapted to match with her, externally. Tell me now, fairy that you are, you couldn't give a charm or a filter or something of the sort?
I would be past the power of magic, sir.
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Yes, this production is long (good news for Bronte fans!) and it has a somewhat dated feel, but both the casting and acting are so brilliant that you won't want to watch any other versions!
Timothy Dalton IS Edward Rochester... it's that simple. I don't care that other reviewers claim he's too handsome. Dalton is attractive, certainly, but no pretty-boy. In fact he possesses a craggy, angular dark charm that, in my mind, is quite in keeping with the mysterious, very masculine Mr R. And he takes on Rochester's sad, tortured persona so poignantly. He portrays ferocity when the scene calls for it, but also displays Rochester's tender, passionate, emotional side as well. (IMO the newer A&E production suffers in that Ciaran Hinds - whom I normally adore - seems to bluster and bully his way throughout. I've read the book many times and I never felt that Rochester was meant to be perceived as a nonstop snarling beast.)
When I reread the novel, I always see Zelah Clarke as Jane. Ms. Clarke, to me, resembles Jane as she describes herself (and is described by others). Small, childlike, fairy... though it's true the actress doesn't look 18, she portrays Jane's attributes so well. While other reviews have claimed that her acting is wooden or unemotional, one must remember that the character spent 8 years at Lowood being trained to hold her emotions and "passionate nature" in check. Her main inspiration was her childhood friend Helen, who was the picture of demure submission. Although her true nature was dissimilar, Jane learned to master her temper and appear docile, in keeping with the school's aims for its charity students who would go into 'service'. Jane becomes a governess in the household of the rich Mr. Rochester. She would certainly *not* speak to him as an equal. Even later on when she gave as well as she got, she would always be sure to remember that her station was well below that of her employer. Nevertheless, if you read the book - to which this production stays amazingly close - you can clearly see the small struggles Zelah-as-Jane endures as she subdues her emotions in order to remain mild and even-tempered.
The chemistry between Dalton and Clarke is just right, I think. No, it does not in the least resemble Hollywood (thank God! It's not a Hollywood sort of book) but theirs is a romance which is true, devoted and loyal. And for a woman like Jane, who never presumed to have *any* love come her way, it is a minor miracle.
The rest of the casting is terrific, and I love the fact that nearly every character from the book is present here. So, too, is much of the rich, poetic original dialogue. This version is the only one that I know of to include the lovely, infamous 'gypsy scene' and in general, features more humor than other versions I've seen. In particular, the mutual teasing between the lead characters comes straight from the book and is so delightful!
Jane Eyre was, in many ways, one of the first novelized feminists. She finally accepted love on her own terms and independently, and, at last, as Rochester's true equal. Just beautiful!
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