class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-173156″ alt=”Jane-Eyre” src=”https://www.heyuguys.com/images/2013/01/jane_eyre02-220×150.jpg” width=”220″ height=”150″ />I know many a person for whom Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is their favourite novel. But what about the recent film adaptation? Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 movie, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska grossed $11,242,660, but despite its low gross, the movie was nominated for 15 awards, including the BAFTA and Oscar costume design awards.
What I am interested in, though, is how true to the novel this adaptation is. I first read Jane Eyre not long ago, in 2010, so it was relatively fresh in my mind when I first watched the movie.
The first and most obvious difference between the novel and the movie is the structure. The novel is structured in a linear, chronological way, where the movie mixes this up. In Fukunaga’s adaptation, we first see Jane as an adult, with flash-backs to her childhood, schooling, and her time at Thornfield. This very much changes our perception of Jane as the heroine. In the film, we know instantly that she comes upon some kind of hardship, whereas in the novel we are hopeful, throughout 50 pages of childhood, that Jane will find herself in a better situation. I think the structural difference makes the movie very bleak. But perhaps this is necessary.
Upon first seeing the movie what instantly struck me was that, although the script doesn’t miss out any particular scenes from the novel (bar one), the main events that seemed so significant in the novel did not quite have the same effect in the film. I attribute this to the fact that there is not enough build-up in the movie. Jane Eyre is a 500 page novel, crammed into a 2 hour film. The magic of the novel, for me, as strange as it may sound, are the pages and pages of mundane, every-day life. It’s these pages that build and gather the feelings of Jane, and when those are released, such as in the scene where she tells her Aunt Reed that she does not love her, there is a real excitement and relief at the outlet of pent-up anger and frustration. In the movie, on the other hand, the scenes of tension release are there, without the build-up of tension. I think that this, essentially, portrays Jane as somewhat wet and bland; her actions are decidedly underwhelming.
I feel that I’ve been unfair on Fukunaga’s adaptation. I genuinely loved it, and thought it captured the spirit of the novel wonderfully. In particular, I love the music, composed by Dario Marianelli. Script-wise, the movie wants for nothing, and takes all the best bits of the novel. However, the problem I have is precisely this; the script seems to be a ‘best of’ Jane Eyre, rather than a representation of the whole of Jane Eyre.