& the slipper still fits


I know dear reader, you're about ready to toss this blog out with all the Jane Eyre related news I've been posting, and while I could promise that it will stop, I'd be lying. And now, even worse, I'm actually going to write a blog about it too. Without further ado, because there's just too much ado about this movie as it is, here are my top 5 reasons to be excited for the new Jane Eyre. And a few not so much.

5. A St.John Rivers we can actually, possibly, enjoy
This cannot be a point thrown away. Has there ever been a St.John Rivers we actually like (and no, Rupert Penry-Jones from that horrible Crian Hinds version does not count. He was the ONLY good part of THAT movie)? In the novel St.John is a huge, pivotal part in seeing Jane's growth, and likewise his value is based on his close connection to his sisters more than himself independently. In film, he becomes a throw-away bit part that must be there for Jane to return to Rochester. Jamie Bell, however, has this amazing power to take a small part and turn it into something brilliant. He's done it many times before, and made his characters some of the most enduring parts of a whole miniseries. I have a mad, desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, we'll get a proper St.John Rivers this time around.

4. Age-appropriate actors
Considering everything, this should be the least of my issues with an adaptation, but lets remember, 2 of the most iconic BBC versions cast actresses over the age of 25 to play an 18 year old. While the 2006 version finally cast closer to age, the 2011 film hits the nail on the head. I can never again use the argument, "well, if they would just cast ages right we'd see the proper dynamic."

3. An artfully crafted, visual version
In recent years there has only been 1 feature length Jane Eyre: Zeffirelli's 1996 adaptation, and while many of the BBC adaptations are beautiful, there is something to be said about a big-budget, visual movie. Based on the photos we've seen and the clips released (this one in particular), I think we can certainly expect a film visually beautiful. Not Bright Star  beautiful, but something sweepingly lovely, capturing the tone of mystery, darkness, and isolation often overlooked or overstated in other versions.

2. We all have our "collections"; I collect Jane Eyres
Friends, loyalties, and unflattering hairstyles are forged based on the adaptations we first see and how we compare all others to it. For me, I will always have a soft spot for Timothy Dalton as Rochester because he, for all intensive purposes, was my first Rochester. Since that first watch, I've collected versions of Jane Eyre--paperback, hardback, mini-series, feature film, and of course musical--voraciously. I have my favorite scenes from all, I've cut and pasted my perfect version a thousand times, and the new Jane Eyre will only add fuel to my favorite fire.

1. A new interpretation to our favorite characters 
Sometimes the most interesting part of a new adaptation is hearing how the actors see their characters; especially the men playing Rochester. Toby Stephens had an almost whimsical take on Rochester, stating that in the novel he never shuts up and always enjoys a good long tale. Michael Fassbender, in his first interview about the role, discusses Rochester's inner fears, his changeability, and his relationship with Jane. As a literature girl, I LOVE hearing this stuff: how other people see such an iconic character; they are things we sometimes overlook in our favorite books because we are too in love with other parts to notice.

This being said, I'm nearly positive Fassbender will not play Rochester as a straight Byronic character. If he did that, he'd be repeating his performance in HEX. I'm confident is saying we'll see something in this new Rochester we've never seen before.

With the good, they're might be a little ugly too: a few reasons I'll be gnashing my teeth in the theatre:

The Return of the Known-by-Rochester
Adaptations, when there are many, are mostly distinguished by one trait. With Jane Eyre, its who plays Rochester. This all beautifully changed in 2006 when Ruth Wilson gave a breathtaking performance of Jane against Stephen's own strong portrayal of Rochester. I fear, however, that the glory days are soon to be gone. With this 2011 adaption we will return to distinguishing Jane Eyres, not by their heroine, but by their Byronic hero again. I've enjoyed our brief period of girl power and will be sad to see it go.

More passionless Proposals
Hearing Bronte's proposal scene intact, at one time, made my life. Dialogue loyalty is heady for any book geek, however, those words in entirety are meant not as an extreme expression of passionate emotion, but as a rational argument against social normatives. In the novel, Bronte is using that scene and Jane's words to highlight gender equality through reason and logic: Jane is the rational one, while Rochester the emotional one. The scene is long, and when the words are chopped for an adaption they become awkward and forced. Actors fumble over complex sentences while trying to be passionate and it all just falls flat. Likewise, using a thesaurus to change words in the dialogue for no good reason, helps no one.

Sandy Welch, screenwriter for the 2006 version, knew this undoubtedly and wrote accordingly. Her screenplay kept the best parts of the proposal, allowing the actors to say with emotions the words that were not said. And then of course, Wilson played it beautifully: if Jane is laying everything on the table, she should be crying and angry and visibly shaken. We cannot have a rational Jane when all the rational argument has been cut, just as we cannot have an emotional Jane tied down by an argumentative diatribe. I think we've seen the 2011 version did not learn from Welch's screenplay, and I will cringe in the movie theatre all over again when it is played.

Pacing, we after all only have 2 hours here
2 hours. I'm just saying, I hope there will be a director's cut.

All things considered, I'm still completely up in the air if I will love or hate this version, but the last thing I want is to be apathetic about it. I'm still hopeful  though, and that's the best thing to be.

Jane Eyre releases March 11, 2011 with a PG-13 rating.