I had all these ideas for blog posts, but the soupy August weather has caused my brain to turn into mush. I am completely over summer. Sad as I am to have my skydiving season come to an end early this year (stupid med school!), I am more than ready to move on.
August is always predictably horrid in terms of weather across the Northern Hemisphere, even back in Los Angeles. Humidity is a foreign concept out there, but what LA Augusts lack in humidity, they make up in fierce heat. Here in New York, I am smothered. I don’t find it particularly hot so much as I feel like I’m drowning.
As I recall, fall came early last year. I only know this because it turned cold really fast, cutting my season short that way. It started smelling like fall in the middle of the month. Last year we had a gorgeous autumn. I worry this year we won’t get the same.
Every time I try and find coherent things to write about in my blog, I found that I kept returning to my battered copy of JANE EYRE instead. The heat makes me sluggish and unwilling to do anything but read and/or watch movies and TV shows, and for some reason, JANE EYRE was the one story in which I longed to lose myself over and over again.
Review of BBC 2006 Masterpiece Theatre’s Jane Eyre
I’ve made no secret of my love of JANE EYRE, even as my fondness for it is baffles me. I love the gothic genre, of course, but it’s my love for Rochester that stumps me. The brooding, Byronic romantic hero is not my man and who is Rochester if not a shining example of that sort?
I think, in large part, my love for Rochester comes from Jane herself. I adore Jane; she is passionate but pragmatic and damned if I don’t fall hard for sensible heroines. Because she is sensible, I trust her and if she finds something to love in Mr Rochester, then I believe it. There’s more too it, of course, and I could go on forever dissecting why Rochester seems to defy all my immediate turn-offs when it comes to romantic heroes, but I did promise to review this version.
There are about 8000 adaptations of JANE EYRE and while I haven’t seen all of them, I did like this one better than most. Critics have praised Toby Stephens performance as Rochester (and he was certainly good), but for me, I lost my heart to Ruth Wilson’s portrayal of Jane. Other versions have focused too much Jane’s passion or Jane’s Quaker-ish air, but I thought Wilson struck a nice balance. Here is my sensible heroine!
I can’t discount Toby Stephens, of course. He’s brusque and sarcastic, but there’s a core of vulnerable sweetness to him that surprised me. Some of his acting choices with regards to Rochester were unexpected, but I thought they worked, especially in conjunction with how Wilson portrayed Jane.
And here we get to the crux of the matter, of why I loved this version. The chemistry between Jane and Rochester is delicious. Both actors play it with more restraint than other versions, but the passion is there. The other reason I liked their portrayal was we got to see Jane and Rochester as friends instead of just tension-filled, longing-drenched glances. Libido is still there (especially in the scene when she rescues him from burning in his bed—phew!), but I really enjoyed watching how their friendship became regard and then love. And their reunion scene? My reaction was an incoherent gaaaaaaaaaaaah.
I have quibbles, but then again, don’t I always? Blanche Ingram was fairly lackluster as a potential “rival” for Jane; in my mind I always see her as this tempestuous, head-tossing, foot-stomping woman who is all artifice, even though she isn’t conscious of it. This version’s Blanche was far too normal, which doesn’t adequately set up the difference between her flashy but empty affection and Jane’s plain but honest sincerity.
Similarly, Bertha is not crazy enough. In order to find Rochester at all redeemable in the novel (I mean, locking up his mad wife in the attic and then trying to force bigamy on an innocent girl?), Brontë sets up Bertha as a force of unbridled, animalistic passion that has lost all sense of humanity, reason, and restraint; she is frequently referred to as “it”. In this adaptation, Bertha still retains much of her beauty and seems to be cognizant of her situation. Whenever we see her, she seems more sly than deranged, which just pushes Rochester from “dick” into “douchehound” territory. (I like Rochester the Total Asshole, but Rochester the Irredeemable Bastard less so.)
This is more of a personal thing, but I thought the St. John portion went on far too long. The writers trimmed the Lowood sections (thank goodness), but didn’t do the same for Rivers. They intercut the Rivers scenes with bits of Rochester and Jane’s conversation before she flees Thornfield (not in the novel, but effective and heartbreaking), but it’s not enough to keep my attention. I admit to skimming this portion of the adaptation to get to the “good bits”, just as I do with the book.
Still, totally recommended.