Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon: Jane Eyre (1973)

It's that time again readers where I set aside a chunk of my time to watch and review another adaption of the lovely novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Since we're nearing the end of this Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon, it looks like the movies that I have yet to watch are the ones that I've been avoiding because they're about 5 hours long. That's a pretty huge movie commitment. Nevertheless, I decided to tackle one of those more comprehensive adaptions for your reading pleasure.

Jane Eyre (1973)
Michael Jayston as Mr. Rochester
Sorcha Cusack as Jane Eyre
This version is broken up into 5 separate episodes, with a total runtime of 4 hours and 35 minutes
Here is the link to the IMDb webpage:

This is another adaption that I hadn't seen before the watch-a-thon and I was pretty optimistic because BBC usually does great adaptions of classic novels. While there are definitely some faults to this adaption, it did meet my expectations for one of the more comprehensive adaptions. Since I want to end this post on a more positive note, I'm going to start off with all of the faults that I found.

  • As far as Jane's childhood is concerned, I thought that the child actor was a bit too melodramatic and at times she could get really annoying. The only other complaint I had was that for a 5 episode series, Jane's childhood isn't even given a full episode. For those curious that part of the narrative was about 45 minutes long.
  • That AWFUL voiceover!!! 


It's totally understandable that a Jane Eyre adaption would have some narration from Jane, particularly since most of the narrative deals with her own thoughts and personal growth. Just...sigh...this adaption took that voiceover to such an annoying level. First, the voiceover was used to avoid actual scene transitions and important plot points. For example, there is no transition from Jane as a teacher at Lowood to her getting a job as a governess at Thornfield. Instead, it just skips right to Jane asking about Miss Fairfax (she mean't Adele). Then the audience is forced to watch a boring scene where Jane puts away all of her belongings for a solid 4 minutes while the voiceover informs us all about how Jane advertised and left Lowood. You know what else sucks about that voiceover? When it completely interrupts a conversation she is having with another character. I kid you not. For instance, Jane is having a rather heated discussion with Rochester, when all of the sudden the two characters stop talking and stare off into space, leaving the appropriate amount of time and silence for Jane's voiceover/inner monologue. I just really hate the voiceover, as you can tell.

  • This version also has one of the more tame Rochester horse scenes out of the bunch and I'd have to say in general that the movie really lacked the strong gothic tone that I enjoy.
  • I'm just going to put this out there........I hated Sorcha Cusack as Jane Eyre. In fact her performance and that ridiculous voiceover are really what kept me from completely enjoying this adaption. My first problem with Sorcha's acting is how she completely fails to portray any authentic emotion on her face. The woman has her eyebrows perpetually raised and in those few and I mean few moments when they aren't, she just has this stupefied expression. She even has this tone to her voice that always makes her sound lofty, like she looks down on everyone. Not to mention this adaption joins the many others that make it clear Jane is only 18 and then have a lead actress who looks to be in her late twenties/early thirties.
  • Aside from the intro and outro music, this adaption doesn't have any background music. As a result, the lack of music adds to the weird feeling that you're watching a stage performance and not an actual movie. It was also a missed opportunity to emphasize the characters' emotions.
  • This is just a small complaint, but if they made the decision to do the gypsy scene, which many of the adaptions don't, why didn't they just do it correctly.
  • After Jane leaves Thornfield, this film doesn't include any of Jane's begging and for some reason Rosamund Oliver isn't included either.
Now on to what I really like about this 1973 adaption.

  • The best aspect of this version has to be the fact that, aside from the few scenes I mentioned above, it's a comprehensive adaption. What makes this particular movie unique is that it lifts much of the dialogue directly from the book itself. I loved that the adaption allowed plenty of time for Jane and Rochester to have meaningful conversations with the correct lines. 
  • Finally!!! This movie gets the hair cutting scene completely right. So many adaptions for whatever reason choose to include some mangled representation of Brocklehurst desiring to cut some curly orphan hair. Here we get the entire scene where Brocklehurst goes on a religious tirade about vanity and the girls' curly hair, which is completely undercut when his wife and daughters walk by with their artfully arranged and curled hair. 
  • The horrible Typhus outbreak at Lowood is acknowledged and represented. Audiences even learn about the repercussions of Brocklehurst's poor running of the school.
  • While I hate the actress who plays Jane, I actually really liked Michael Jayston's portrayal of Mr. Rochester. He makes a valiant effort at accurately portraying emotion, even through facial expression.
  • Finally, this adaption has fully fleshed out reunion scenes when Jane decides to return to Rochester. Everything was wrapped up nicely and came to a satisfying ending.

That my dear readers is the end to another edition of the Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon. If you've watched this particular adaption and have anything to add please leave a comment down below:) For those wondering, I only have 2 more adaptions left to cover before this delightful journey is over. Until my next post, Best Wishes!!