Saturday November 26, 2011
Jane Eyre (2011) directed by Cary Fukunaga
I've never read the novel so I really have no idea how this film adaptation compares. I am just going to assume that the basic story is the same and the differences lie in the artistic vision of director Cary Fukunaga. I suppose that is the challenge of adapting famous books into movies. You pretty much have to leave the story alone so it is just a matter of how you present it which can affect the feeling of a film almost as much as the story itself.
The film is about a young orphaned girl named Jane who ends up working as a governess at a rich estate. There she catches the eye of the imposing master Rochester who is taken by her intelligence and honesty. It is a classic Victorian age romance that deals with the issues of class, wealth, and expectations of women. However, not knowing anything at all about the story (though I assumed it was a romance) it was hard to tell where it might go because of the ambiance of the film. There is an incredible sense of foreboding throughout the movie; at one point I thought it may even be a horror film because of how dark it felt. Indeed, there is something fishy going on at the Rochester estate but I was never really sure of the nature of the secret until it was revealed.
There is sense of something really tragic in the film because of this darkness and the musical score which makes heavy use of the violin, which is both beautiful and profoundly sad. We already feel for Jane even before we truly understand why.
Along with the wonderful score, the film is also gorgeously filmed. Though most of the film has a very austere feel to it with muted colors, it never looks bad and in some cases even shines. Exterior shots look like paintings with sunsets glistening over the fields. Springtime at the Rochester estate is as nice as the palace at Versailles. The dark interior shots set the tone for the most of the film. Faces are hidden in shadows but reveal enough to see the details of their features.
When I rented Jane Eyre, I assumed it would be similar to Pride and Prejudice. Both are famous Victorian romances, but Pride an Prejudice is a more light hearted romance with some comedy (at least the film was, I haven't read this book either). Jane Eyre is deathly serious. I don't think there is a single joke in the entire film. I would say Pride and Prejudice is more romantic in the traditional sense, while Jane Eyre's romance is less developed though no less emotional. Was this the tone of the novel as well or is it Fukunaga's direction?