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Jane Eyre Articles

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Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:00 am


March 14, 2011 by admin

Filmmakers have been drawn to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre almost from the time cameras started rolling. The first version of the 164-year-old tale hit the screen in 1914; the most famous version was produced in 1943 with Joan Fontaine in the title role and Orson Welles in the role of Rochester. But, if initial reaction is any judge, the latest version, which stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds), could turn out to be the biggest hit of them all. The movie opened in two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles over the weekend, where it grossed $182,317 or $45,579 per theater, the highest per-theater average of any film released this year. The film also received outstanding word-of-mouth (the Los Angeles Times reported that ticket sales jumped 53 percent from Friday to Saturday) and mostly positive, although restrained, reviews. “This is a story that still grips the heart and the mind,” wrote Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, while suggesting that it falls short of the Fontaine-Welles version. Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News wrote that director Cary Fukunaga “deftly emphasizes the modern elements” of the Brontë novel, “though he’s less skilled at creating a gothic tone. Those unfamiliar with this story will find a respectable introduction; fans [of the novel] may be somewhat less impressed.” She also concluded that the two leads “lack chemistry” so that while the film is intellectually admirable, “every Jane Eyre should also deliver some emotional swoons.” On the other hand, A.O. Scott in the New York Times praised the production as “a splendid example of how to tackle the daunting duty of turning a beloved work of classic literature into a movie. Neither a radical updating nor a stiff exercise in middlebrow cultural respectability, Mr. Fukunaga’s film tells its venerable tale with lively vigor and an astute sense of emotional detail.”

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Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:02 am

'Jane Eyre' Costume Designer Reveals Secrets Behind Mia Wasikowska's Wardrobe
11:57 PM 3/13/2011 by Leslie Bruce

Lori Sparham/Universal Studios
The Oscar-winning Michael O'Connor brought a twist to period fashion for the classic novel.

Costume designer Michael O’Connor’s Jane Eyre costumes are a far cry from his elaborate gowns and headdresses for the 18th century aristocratic fashion plate Georgiana (Keira Knightley) in 2008’s The Duchess, for which he won an Oscar.

Jane’s style is very simple, uncomplicated and unfussy,” says O’Connor of his latest heroine, an orphaned child (played by Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska) who, after years of hardship, begins work as a governess, only to fall deeply in love with her much older and mysterious employer, Edward Rochester.

O’Connor’s focus might have shifted from outfitting the upper crust to middle- and lower-class society, but there’s no shortage of delicate lace-trimmed dresses, satin lace-up boots, vintage prints and silk-flower embellishments throughout the film, making it one of the year’s most stunning period pieces.

For the 16th feature-film adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved novel, which hits theaters March 11, director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) and O’Connor had the same goal in mind: authenticity.

But shortly after starting production on his first major studio film (Focus Features), the director consulted with O’Connor about a not-so-minor fashion glitch. “The book was published in 1847 and takes place 10 years before that, but neither one of us liked the clothing of the 1830s,” Fukunaga says. “They’re not flattering dresses; women look like Valentine’s Day cards, with huge sleeves and triangular shoulders.”

RELATED: Read The Hollywood Reporter's review of Jane Eyre

The pair made the decision to take a slight departure from what Fukunaga calls “puff cake” gowns and instead draw inspiration from the 1840s when designing the characters’ wardrobes, creating more figure-flattering dresses.

In bringing to life this story of a woman of simple means who suffered a loveless upbringing, O’Connor wanted the material and pattern of Jane’s clothing to reflect her nature, something the voluminous pieces of the previous decade would not evoke: “For Jane’s wedding dress, I originally created two sketches — the much simpler design prevailed.”

He even designed era-appropriate undergarments (including stockings and corsets) for the actors, an important element for the director: “I wanted to have the freedom to shoot Jane in her points of undress. [Without] those elements, you lose that extra level of reality.”

Unlike many period films, which nowadays rent wardrobes from costume houses, a large majority of the clothes were created specifically for Fukunaga’s 2011 version. “We spent a lot of time on the [story’s] Lowood girls — there were 50 student uniforms made,” Fukunaga notes. “They had clogs with copper nails that turned turquoise once they weathered. You’ll never see it, but you can hear it.” In the two months leading up to filming in England’s Derbyshire and Yorkshire countrysides, O’Connor created 12 individual looks for Jane, including off-the-shoulder dresses of sturdier, less-refined textiles to reflect her social ranking, with bell-shaped skirts, narrow arms and tight bodices.

“My favorite is the plaid dress Jane wears when she comes to Thornfield,” Fukunaga adds. “It had a cape-shawl and a blue collar that looks like it’s dyed from indigo. There was something about the wooden interiors of that world and these midnight blues that worked well, especially the way it matched the moors.”

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Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:18 am

Bronte Country
Posted on March 13, 2011 by maydelory

The world is on sale with British Airways! New York to London, England + tax/fees $210. Great hotel deals, too. Book by 3/17.

Recently, and for the first time, I was in Yorkshire, England – a windswept storybook landscape, the sort of place where one expects any moment to see Heathcliff and Catherine hand-in-hand coming over the moors. The West Yorkshire moors after all is Bronte Country. You’ll find the childhood home of writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte and their brother Branwell Bronte, now a museum in Haworth, Yorkshire. Charlotte moved to the parsonage when she was three-years-old; she was dead at age thirty-eight along with her unborn child and remembered as one of English literature’s finest novelists.

The third child of six, Charlotte was born in 1816. Two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis when Charlotte was eight-years-old. Charlotte’s mother, Maria Branwell, died of cancer when Charlotte was five. The Bronte family first lived in the tiny village of Thornton, a few miles from Haworth. One by one the sisters as well as their brother died in early adulthood from disease. But the years in Haworth leading up to the tragic end were fodder for the Bronte legend and for the inspiration to write books still devoured to this day.

Haworth Apothecary

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 classic tale of love, loss, and triumph, has seen many film versions, including one in 1944 with Orson Welles. Australian Mia Wasikowska as Jane in Moira Buffini’s adaptation of ”Jane Eyre” debuts March 2011, directed by Cary Fukunaga. Michael Fassbender (Hunger) plays brooding Mr. Rochester; Dame Judi Dench (NINE; Madame de Sade; “M” in the current James Bond series) plays Mrs. Fairfax, Rochester’s housekeeper; Jamie Bell plays St. John the missionary, and Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) plays Jane’s cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed. The latest cinematic adaptation of the novel is a BBC collaboration with Focus Films.

What’s fascinating today about the village of Haworth, is that not much has changed since the Brontes lived there behind the church where their father, Patrick Bronte, was clergy. The apothecary were Branwell got his drug fix that contributed to his death is still just down the street from the 300-year-old White Lion inn on Main street, the church, the graveyard bearing headstones of those who suffered the deeds of a difficult life in Haworth, the Parsonage, and the moors and its heather. Top Withens, too, although almost lost to the ground, stands, overlooking the moors, testement to the Bronte sisters’ imagination.

Father Bronte had seen meagre times in Ireland growing up on a farm. By the time he was a young man Patrick Bronte had opened his own school, entered the church and attended Cambridge University. The thirst for achievement and education was handed down to the Bronte children.

Heather on the moors

The moors above Haworth became the Bronte sisters imagative playground, and especially so for Charlotte, their Haworth home the site of private class in the instruction of painting and drawing, music and reading. Outside–the walls of their simple home, was much sickness and wretched living conditions. Is it any wonder then, that the sisters set their soul free on the page.


Haworth is a delightful village with everything close at hand from pastry shops to quaint book stores. To see the beauty of Bronte Country there’s nothing like walking the Yorkshire moors or riding horse. If travelling from Leeds, Bradford or Skipton, take the Keighley railway to Haworth. Each fall there is the Worth Valley Beer & Music Festival where over 140 real ales, foreign bottle beers, ciders and perrys are available. Join the beer party on a steam locomotive as you travel through Yorkshire countryside.

For further information, vacation-planning advice and access to passes and transport tickets and information on visiting cities close to Haworth please go to:


Wonderful inns, pubs, restaurants, cafes and tea houses are to be had in the cobbled streets of Haworth.

Sticky Pudding in custard: Grouse-Inn

I’m a sucker for sticky toffee pudding; a British steamed dessert which is a dense and very moist cake made with fine chopped dates or prunes and smothered in a warm toffee sauce. Custard or thick whipped cream or ice cream on the side if you like and I like. The more the merrier. I ate my heart out all across Yorkshire, England with sticky puddings. The one I liked best was served at the Old White Lion Inn, a family-operated, 4-star, 300-year-old coaching inn in the tiny village of Haworth, Yorkshire. The pudding was a dense, luscious and very dark moist cake tasting of cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and who knows what else…very much like a spice cake. The mounds of warm toffee sauce and thick whipped local cream on top left me in heaven. In some places the chef used one spice predominately over another for the sticky pudding…but all the sticky puddings were satisfying, as were the simple pork pies encased in thick pastry I had in the city of York. The Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter) filmed in Yorkshire Dales National Park. Haworth restaurant and pub with patio. Oldfield, Keighley in Yorkshire, England Famous ales to be had in Haworth, Yorkshire Village of Haworth, Yorkshire. (Fine dining in the village of Haworth, Yorkshire.)


Yorke Arms is one of Britain’s leading restaurants. The Michelin-starred dining room is presided over by one of the world’s top female chefs, Frances Atkins. Expect an elegant dark-wood and lead-windows ambiance on manicured lawns. The Yorke Arms offers fresh vegetables from its gardens, local game, and high quality seafood. Nidderdale lamb pie with beignet of Yorkshire blue cheese is a specialty.

Yorke Arms, Harrogate, Yorkshire Built in 1834 as private residence for a York ecclesiastical family. Converted into a AA 4-star hotel in 1990 by Jeremy and Vivien Cassel the hotel’s owners. Largest annual food/drink festival in the UK. Gun making shop in Bothwell, eight miles south of Glasgow, Scotland for engraving of handmade guns and cases.

Yorkshire Museum has been selected this year for Letting in the Light – Revitalising the Yorkshire Museum for the 21st century. Members of the public are invited to vote online at for their favourite long-listed museum.

The Hidden Minster:

York Minster is known the world over as a magnificent example of religious architecture. Now you can see behind the curtains and peek through lovely windows.

Bedern Glaziers’ Studio Tours every Wednesday and Friday at 2pm, £7.50 per person. Pre-booked groups only at other times throughout the year. Tel: 0844 939 0011 or email http:// London, England to York, Yorkshire is less than two hours by train. Depart every 30 minutes. Also direct rail service from York to many UK main regional centres. Manchester International Airport is two hours’ drive by automobile from the city of York.

CTC – what kind of traveller are you? Take the quiz. cfe9s1

Of course to eat well we must honour those kindly souls who tend the good earth. His Royal Highness Prince Charles The Prince Of Wales offers common sense gardening practises learnt over the course of his lifetime as well as his views on the environment, architecture, education, healthcare, science, business, economics, and the way Nature behaves and the limits of her benevolence throughout time. The Prince of Wales cautions that we should listen carefully to the principles of harmony both in ourselves and in Nature. You may like to read “Harmony: A New way Of Looking At Our World” with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly. Modern take on Jane Eyre by Sharon Kendrick

Read the book Jane Eyre. Elle Canada interview with Jane Eyre director. Australia’s Mia Wasikowska talks romance. Rolling Stone says “Jane Eyre” a classic for a new generation. Jane Eyre a tight fit! Jane Eyre’s Michael Fassbender (Hunger; Inglourious Bastards) is on his way!

Photos copyright by May Georgina DeLory

Photo of Sticky Pudding with lemon custard

courtesy of

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Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:22 pm

Is the new 'Jane Eyre' doomed at the Oscars?

March 15, 2011 | 11:11 am

Jane Eyre"Jane Eyre" starring Mia Wasikowska looks like a real winner, scoring 78 at Metacritic and earning $45,579 per screen in four movie theaters last weekend. But what about how it may be received (or not) at the next Academy Awards? Beware: The many past film adaptations were as doomed at the Oscars as the characters in Charlotte Brontë's gothic heart-breaker.

But, first, let's focus on the good news: critics' love for the latest screen rendition. The New York Times says that director "Cary Joji Fukunaga's film tells its venerable tale with lively vigor and an astute sense of emotional detail." USA Today declares: "In its superbly spare execution, the newest adaptation of Jane Eyre is both faithful to Charlotte Brontë's classic and distinctively original."

The L.A. Times' Kenneth Turan particularly likes Michael Fassbender as Rochester, the brooding overlord of Thornfield Hall, who wins the heart of his young ward's governess: "Fassbender energizes not just his scenes with Mia Wasikowska's accomplished but inevitably more pulled-back Jane but this entire film …. Wasikowska acquits herself well here, but without a lot of access to the book's florid recounting of her rich interior life her performance is of necessity restricted to the narrow view the world has of her."

There have been 18 feature film adaptations of "Jane Eyre." None was nominated for Oscars, including notable versions starring Joan Fontaine (1944), Zelah Clarke (1983) and Charlotte Gainsbourg (1996) in the title role. There have been nine TV adaptations, none of which earned Emmy nominations for best TV movie or miniseries or best drama program, not even the beloved 1972 version starring George C. Scott and Susannah York, who both earned bids for their performances, but lost. The most recent TV rendition received six Emmy noms in 2007, but almost all in tech categories. Star Ruth Wilson reaped hosanna reviews from TV critics, but she was snubbed by TV academy voters.

"Jane Eyre" is distributed by Focus Features, which recently garnered Oscar attention for the film adaptation of another classic 19th century novel by a noted female British writer: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." It was nominated for three tech trophies plus lead actress (Keira Knightley). Alas, it lost all four bids.

-- Tom O'Neil

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Post by Admin on Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:27 am

Battle of the Brontës

by Jennie Yabroff

With a new film version of Jane Eyre now in theaters and an adaptation of Wuthering Heights coming later this year, fans of authors Charlotte and Emily Brontë are choosing sides. Jennie Yabroff examines which sister was the better author.

One is "poor, obscure, plain and little"; the other is a "wild, wick slip." One marries, and lives happily ever after. The other dies, and haunts her childhood home as a restless ghost. Forget Kim and Kourtney Kardashian. As a new version of Jane Eyre opened last week, to be followed by an adaptation of Wuthering Heights later this year, the debate of 2011 is shaping up to be: Charlotte or Emily Brontë?

Ever since the release of Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights within months of each other in 1847, the Brontë sibling rivalry has been an epic war of words. (A third sister, Anne, also published a novel that year, but aside from a few contrarians who insist she’s the best of the Brontës, her work has largely been forgotten.) On literature discussion boards, fans passionately champion Charlotte’s book or Emily’s. "I'd ten times rather spend an afternoon in Jane's company than Catherine's," reads one typical comment promoting virtuous Jane Eyre, an unloved orphan who grows up to become a governess and marry her employer, Mr. Rochester. In response, a Wuthering Heights fan disses Jane as "impenetrably boring" compared with the tempestuous Cathy, who literally dies of love for her Heathcliff. The debate will continue as Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) dons her dowdiest dress and pins her hair into a washerwoman's bun to play Jane, and again when Kaya Scodelario (of the British TV series Skins) cinches her waist and lets her dark tresses tangle dramatically as Cathy. Jane may be smarter, and Cathy may be sexier, but when it comes to which book will endure, the answer is surprising.

Jane Eyre was an instant bestseller when it was published. It routinely outranks Wuthering Heights on best-books lists, and was the first to be adapted for the screen, as a silent film in 1910. Since then, there have been 21 more movie and television adaptations of Jane Eyre, compared with just 15 screen versions of Wuthering Heights. (The best-known version is the Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine film of 1943; a young Anna Paquin plays Jane in a 1996 remake.) It inspired Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (and the subsequent Alfred Hitchcock film) and Jean Rhys’s prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea. And when Penguin Classics did a special hardback printing of both novels in 2009, Jane Eyre outsold Wuthering Heights, 16,000 copies to 15,000. “It’s the story of a woman who demands to be judged for who she is, which has an enduring appeal,” says Juliet Barker, author of several biographies of the Brontë family.

Little sister Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights was not as instantly beloved. Early critics called it 'a strange, inartistic story' with 'purposeless power.'

Article - Yabroff Brontes Charlotte Bronte, left, in a drawing by George Richmond; Emily Bronte, right, in a painting by her brother Branwell Bronte.

Little sister Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights was not as instantly beloved. Early critics called it "a strange, inartistic story" with "purposeless power." Within two years of publication, Emily was dead of tuberculosis, her one and only novel seemingly destined to sink into obscurity. (Anne died the same year.) But in the 20th century Emily started gaining on Charlotte in the popularity race. Critics rediscovered Wuthering Heights, praising its complicated, nonlinear structure. A 1939 film starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon was nominated for a best-picture Oscar and cemented the story in the public imagination as a Gothic saga of doomed love. Decades later, a teenage Kate Bush would see the last 10 minutes of the film on TV and be inspired to write her first No. 1 hit, "Wuthering Heights," convincing a generation of '80s-era sexy-sprite wannabes that nothing is more romantic than a cold, wet ghost banging on your window and demanding to be let in.

But no one has done more for Team Emily than Bella of the Twilight franchise. Her favorite novel is Wuthering Heights (she first reads it as a school assignment, and in the third book, Eclipse, she and Edward trade Cathy and Heathcliff quotes about, of course, undying love). When HarperCollins released a paperback of the book in the U.K. "endorsed" by Bella and Edward, sales quadrupled. “Wuthering Heights has always appealed more to teenagers,” says Cristina Lara, curator of the Bronte Blog, an exhaustive and very serious-minded compendium of all things Brontë. (Lara and her co-curator, Manuel Del Estal, decline to choose between the two books.) “It’s a rite-of-passage kind of novel.”

If most readers first encounter the books in high school, like Bella, or through the movies, like Kate Bush, the question of preference may have to do more with hormones than literary analysis. In that case, no wonder Wuthering Heights has so many rabid, panting fans. Heathcliff, with his smoldering moodiness, is the original bad boy. “I never read Wuthering Heights, but some of my female friends love it because of Heathcliff,” says Jane Eyre director Cary Fukunaga. Some critics argue that Wuthering Heights is, in fact, a story of hate, of Heathcliff’s revenge on Cathy’s family for mistreating him, but whether readers who find Heathcliff desperately romantic actually understand the book doesn’t matter. For many readers, Jane vs. Cathy is really a question of Rochester vs. Heathcliff. In the new Jane Eyre, Rochester is played by Michael Fassbender as a dark-haired, broad-shouldered sensualist who appears in a very skimpy nightshirt in one scene. Score one for Team Jane.

Jennie Yabroff is a staff writer at Newsweek covering books, movies, food, and art.

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Post by Admin on Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:41 pm

Sony Classical Releases Soundtrack to Jane Eyre Film

Tuesday, March 15, 2011; Posted: 09:03 PM - by BWW News Desk

Sony Classical released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Focus Features' new film Jane Eyre, which became available March 8, 2011. Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli (Atonement) has created a romantic and moving score, performed by violinist Jack Liebeck, as the perfect complement to the new movie version of the celebrated story. Jane Eyre opened in New York and Los Angeles on March 11, and expands to additional cities throughout March.

Dario Marianelli's Jane Eyre score heavily features a solo violin, recorded for the film by the 2010 Classical Brit Award-winning violinist Jack Liebeck. Marianelli is known for the gift of capturing the emotional and poignant elements of a story in his music. His score for Atonement earned him Golden Globe and Academy Awards, and his work on Pride & Prejudice was also Oscar-nominated. His other film credits as composer include Eat Pray Love, Agora, The Brave One, The Soloist, Everybody's Fine, and V for Vendetta.

In the bold new feature version of Jane Eyre, director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Focus' Sin Nombre) and screenwriter Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe) infuse a contemporary immediacy into Charlotte Bronte's timeless, classic story. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) star in the iconic lead roles of the romantic drama, the heroine of which continues to inspire new generations of devoted readers and viewers.

In the 19th Century-set story, Jane Eyre (played by Ms. Wasikowska) suddenly flees Thornfield Hall, the vast and isolated estate where she works as a governess for Adele Varens, a child under the custody of Thornfield's brooding master, Edward Rochester (Mr. Fassbender). The imposing residence - and Rochester's own imposing nature - have sorely tested her resilience. With nowhere else to go, she is extended a helping hand by clergyman St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell of Focus' The Eagle) and his family. As she recuperates in the Rivers' Moor House and looks back upon the tumultuous events that led to her escape, Jane wonders if the past is ever truly past...For more information on the film, please visit

Sony Classical is the label group in charge of classical music within Sony Music Entertainment, based in New York and Berlin and responsible for the international productions of Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, as well as a vast catalogue that goes back to Enrico Caruso. Sony Classical is the home of artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Murray Perahia and Vittorio Grigolo, as well as containing the musical legacy of Glenn Gould, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein. In the USA, Sony Classical is represented by the Sony Masterworks label group. For email updates and information please visit

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Post by Admin on Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:52 pm

‘Jane Eyre’ movie rekindles Austen vs. Bronte, the battle of the bonnets

Laurie Sparham / Focus Feature - Mia Wasikowska stars as the title character of the romantic drama ‘Jane Eyre’ directed by Cary Fukunaga.

By Monica Hesse, Thursday, March 17, 12:56 PM

Enough with the empire waistlines, the sparkly dialogue, the pride, the prejudice, the Colin Firth trudging out of the lake again and again on the late-night minithons on A&E. Enough with all that.

The devoted readers of Bonnet Drama have always known that if it came down to it, if someone held a flintlock musket to their heads and demanded an answer, that “I love Jane Austen and the Brontes equally” would not suffice. Sides must be chosen:

You are either a Janeite. Or you are a Charlottan.

The Brontes’ resurgence

“When I need order in my life, I read Jane Austen,” says Alison Owen, an English film producer. “When I’m feeling more emotional, and when I need that passionate punch, I turn to ‘Jane Eyre.’ ”

For two decades, Austen’s Janeites have held the public hostage in an infinite Regency-era loop. Elizabeth Bennet played by Jennifer Ehle, played by Keira Knightley, played by Aishwarya Rai. Elizabeth Bennet fighting zombies. A cultish What Would Jane Do movement emerged, as if Austen were not a favorite author but a chatty oracle.

The Charlottans have waited.

Now, victories:

On Friday, the nationwide opening of “Jane Eyre.” It’s the newest remake of the most famous novel to be written by Charlotte Bronte or her two author sisters, Emily and Anne. Owen is the producer; the director is Cary Fukunaga, whose last project was the Mexican gang drama “Sin Nombre.” This new “Eyre” stars Mia Wasikowska, the “Alice” of Tim Burton’s “Wonderland,” as plain governess Jane, and Michael Fassbender — an appropriate blend of sexy, cruel and mangy — as her tormented employer, Mr. Rochester.

In Britain, director Andrea Arnold is finishing up edits for a new version of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” — the first version to cast a black actor in the role of Heathcliff.

In New York, a Bronte fan has launched a one-time magazine called “Eyresses,” dedicated to the painstaking worship of the 400-page novel. It includes a “Jane Eyre Community Cookbook” and an e-mail chain between two dudes who confess that they both secretly love the book.

A Bronte biopic has been in the works for years; the faithful hope it will get off the ground soon.

The faithful are very protective of their source material.

“There is nothing about this movie that is reinventing what the story should have been,” Fukunaga says of his film in a telephone interview. “The book is frightening,” he says, promising that his “Jane” preserves the Gothic elements that have been sacrificed in previous versions. “There are other ‘Jane Eyre’ films out there that are mostly treated as romance films.”

The problem for Brontophiles isn’t that the books haven’t been made into movies. With the exception of Anne’s works (everyone always forgets about Anne), many of them have; “Jane Eyre” had a made-for-TV makeover just five years ago. The problem is that so many of these adaptations have been lacking. Whereas “Pride and Prejudice” will forever be defined by Colin Firth, the cinematic world is still in search of the perfect Bronte adaptation.

“I cannot tell you how many Bronte films I have seen,” says Rebecca Fraser, a Charlotte Bronte biographer. “Orson Welles [1943] was very Byronic, but not so attractive. Timothy Dalton . . . people generally think that Timothy Dalton [1983] did not work.”

“The worst adaptation, that’s the 1934 one,” write Manuel Del Estal and Cristina Lara, co-sovereigns of the Bronte Blog, via e-mail. “It’s almost like a parody.” (They apologize for the electronic communication, but they are vacationing in Haworth, England, the home of the Bronte sisters, and they have authentically rented a house without a telephone.)

Most everyone agrees that the one starring William Hurt was a disaster. How could it not be? It bungled the best quote, with Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Jane telling Mr. Rochester, “I may be poor and plain, but I’m not without feelings.”

No. Incorrect.

The correct quote, to be spoken with immeasurable misery, is:

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?”

Anyone who can’t see the difference is entirely missing the point.

The brutality of Bronte

Jane Austen is easy to love. Her heroines are smart; her heroes are righteous. People say funny things and wear lovely clothes and spend a lot of time going to balls or sitting in drawing rooms, meaning that the scenery is just gorgeous. Everything ends happily for everyone who deserves it.

The Brontes are more difficult. Things don’t end well. The writing is beautiful, but Mr. Rochester and Heathcliff — Charlotte and Emily’s two most famous heroes — are basically thugs in morning coats. They say savage things. They emotionally torture the women they claim to love. They keep other women locked in attics and blame drunken housekeepers for bumps in the night. Things burn. People die.

“Jane Eyre is basically like ‘Mad Max,’ ” offers Mikki Halpin, one of the women behind the “Eyresses” project. “It’s basically like a horror movie set in this very hostile terrain.”

More modernly, Jane Eyre is “Twilight.” The women who think it is sooo sexy that the vampire Edward Cullen is a borderline abusive boyfriend are the same women who will discover that borderline abusive boyfriends have been sooo sexy for 160 years.

Jane Austen? She, as others have pointed out, is “Gossip Girl.”

One doesn’t know what Austen would make of the Bronte sisters — she died before their works were published — but one does know how Charlotte felt about her:

“She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well,” Bronte wrote in one letter to a friend. “She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her: she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood.”

The storminess of the Bronte women’s writing makes for an intensely personal reading experience — a private world of melodrama and creepy love. This might explain why there has never been a definitive film version. For any screen adaptation to approach the emotional pinnacles achieved by readers in their imaginations, it would have to include so much lavish emoting that it would end up looking ridiculous.

Cast Your Vote

“It’s especially true with ‘Wuthering Heights,’ ” says Andrew McCarthy, the director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum in England. “As a naturalistic adaptation, it’s unfilmable, really. There almost needs to be a new media or a new art form.”

In some ways, McCarthy says, “the most successful adaptations are the ones that pay the least respect to the book.”

Hush, Mr. McCarthy, and we shall never speak of that statement again.

Must we choose?

Austen or Bronte. It’s not as if it has to be one or the other, as if one must die so the other might live, when all have been dead for 200 years (The Brontes! All died before 40! So sad!).

“No one asks why Shakespeare in the Park is redone every summer,” says director Fukunaga, slightly peevishly, and he’s right — there might be some latent, dismissive mysogyny involved in the concept that there is only enough cultural love for one female literary figure at any given time.

Some analysts have wondered if the Brontes are built for economic downturn — that difficult times draw us to difficult stories. The Bronte heroes find happiness, but not without losing a hand or their eyesight, or having their manor burned down. It’s a bruised happiness, one that might appeal to the foreclosed modern viewer.

The new version of “Jane Eyre” hits most of the pleasure centers required of any good “Jane” adaptation. It has the horrible Red Room, the “left rib” speech, the muddy moors. It also handles gracefully the last third of the book, in which Jane lives with a minister and his sisters — which other versions have either ignored or totally mucked up.

It is likely to please the Charlottans.

Indeed, it is likely to please the Janeites, and anyone else who has ever loved the sight of a beautiful man begging for the love of a working-class woman.

Meanwhile, do you know what is long overdue for a big-screen adaptation?


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Post by Admin on Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:25 pm

And on a more positive note, the other interesting box-office was a wonderful showing for Jane Eyre– it made a little over $45,000 in each of the four theaters it played in, giving it the highest per-theater gross of 2011 so far. This weekend is rolls out a little further and it’s totally wonderful, so go and find it. Michael Fassbender will rule the world!

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Post by Admin on Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:31 pm

Good Girls Don't…
by Mark Asch

Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood, released this past weekend, has the smoothed-over color palette of a Thomas Kinkade painting and dialogue with a tween's barely sustained notion of Romantic diction. But worse still: the big bad wolf isn't sexy. It's actually a CGI monster with a pixilated voice, whose human identity, when climactically revealed, laughably neuters any potential appeal. As director of the first Twilight movie, it was Hardwicke's job to make alluring beasties reassuringly cuddly; here, she withholds even the sensitive bad-boy shtick until the very end—the movie plays like an extended purity test, with Amanda Seyfried's Red distraught by the possibility of an animal within one of her Abercrombie-pretty love interests, and virtuously guilt-stricken by the wolf's interest in her. What big eyes Seyfried has, but there's no avidity permitted—when provocatively given the red-stained fabric swath as a wedding present, she laments that she feels "sold"—no affinity with the bloodthirsty, lunar-cyclical werewolf.

Filmgoers hoping to have a little fun with feminist semiotics are directed instead to Neil Jordan's committed, feverish 1984 adaptation of Angela Carter's short story "The Company of Wolves." In the story, a girl, just begun her own bloody lunar cycle, sets out through the woods, secure in her innocence, to grandmother's house, bartering with a young man over a kiss on the way; when she arrives, discovering the boy transformed, granny dead, and the pack howling outside, she throws her Red Riding Hood ("the colour of poppies, the color of sacrifices, the colour of her menses") on the fire with the rest of her clothes.

As for the wolf, Carter writes, with his anguished cries, "grace could not come to the wolf from its own despair, only through some external mediator, so that, sometimes, the beast will look as if he half welcomes the knife that dispatches him."

The complicity of transgression—violation as its own type of contract—is one risky, suggestive subject of Carter's "The Bloody Chamber," the title story in the 1979 collection of retold fairytales which also includes "Company of Wolves." In "Bloody Chamber," Carter's update of the Bluebeard myth, the child bride of the richest man in France opens the forbidden door, behind which are her murdered predecessors, because her deflowerment—the title has more than one meaning, you guys—has implanted with her a "dark newborn curiosity."

Carter was working on a Jane Eyre sequel when she died, and Charlotte Brontë has Jane liken Thornfield to Bluebeard's castle at one point, which is perfect for reasons that go beyond foreshadowing. Rochester, too, fosters in Jane a sense of curiosity; their romance is epic not just because it transcends obstacles or busts through social taboos (though the latter is important), but because the two interest each other so intensely. Jane's often-censured desire for real experience, which Brontë's prose renders in Jane's vivid, precise observations of self and others, finds fulfillment in their discourse.

In Cary Joji Fukunaga's faithful new version of Jane Eyre, also out last Friday, Rochester's first appearance is prefigured by a storybook ghoul, and announced by the fiendish nostrils of a rearing black horse—here be danger, but also stimulation. Mia Wasikowska's Jane, with her rather taut face, conveys depths of seriousness and thoughtfulness, and as Rochester, Michael Fassbender's scowly, laser-focused gaze seems to demand that its object reward such close scrutiny. This new Jane Eyre ends exactly as "Company of Wolves" does, with the young woman risking all to find herself safe "between the paws of the tender wolf."

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Post by Admin on Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:02 pm

Jane Eyre’s style reinvented
March 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm. Filed under: Be Stylish How to do Retro
Author: Argiro-Maria Stavridi

The new big screen adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel “Jane Eyre” is a perfect pretence to wear stylish pieces with Victorian elements. The literary heroine continues to inspire modern generations with the combination of strength and sensitivity of her character…

Just like Jane, we want to march on with stable steps that will endure all possible difficulties – and Bershka’s “wooden” shoe promises to do just that. During our journey, we won’t let go of the floral Accessorize case created to enclose something more contemporary than paper, classic pens and ink: an iPad!

We may run into danger, but we will stand as powerful as the elaborately crafted Dorothea’s Closet vintage top, which we will accompany with a pair of skinny dark jeans. Both will protect the delicacy of our inner essence, as interpreted by the detailed two-piece set by Intimissimi.

And when we achieve all we ever wanted, we will dress ourselves in white lace styled like the one of the feminine blouse by Zara and pose as “new romantics”. A precious necklace that can obtain sentimental significance, from the collections of Whitebox, will embellish the neckline, and then we will be ready to share moments of love and joy around a table, while using a porcelain set by IONIA.

Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is Jane Eyre in Cary Fukunaga’s new film adaptation. Mia has also starred in the movies “Alice in Wonderland”, “The Kids Are Alright”and the tv series“In Treatment”. Edward Rochester, Jane Eyre’s employer and love interest, is played by the “heartthrob” Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”, “300”)

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Post by Admin on Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:54 pm

Jane Eyre and 4 more ultimate chick flicks every dude should watch
Scott Adler
The Dadler
posted: 03/24/2011, 3:14 pm

A couple of months ago I asked you to help me choose between splurging on an old car and Mrs. Dadler’s big birthday.

The birthday won and last week I duly ponied up a weekend that was so Mrs. Dadleriffic that I went to see Jane Eyre.

I’d never read the book (yes, gasp, sacré bleau!) or seen any of the previous filmed versions so I had no idea what to expect other than that crying was a real possibility.

I’ll leave it a mystery whether or not I gushed, but I will say the flick was good and a snappy portrait of the desire and fortitude that can live in the heart of a woman (or at least what would be in the heart of woman who has been consistently walked on since childhood).

And while I standby my 2010 list of ultimate chick flicks as being the best filmic tutorial for men on women available, I would recommend Jane Eyre and the movies below as ones every man who wants to understand women (and likes a good cry every now and then) should watch:

Strictly Ballroom
How can you not love a movie where Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” means something and the ugly duckling into a swan plot involves a nemesis named Tina Sparkle? Plus, the “wild, crowd-pleasing steps” are devastating. Watch the trailer.

A Place in the Sun
When I heard the news yesterday about Elizabeth Taylor kicking the bucket I didn’t think about National Velvet, Butterfield 8, or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I instantly recalled this three-hankie classic from 1951, which co-starred Montgomery Clift as a dreamer who falls in love with rich Liz but can’t escape a very entangling relationship with common gal Shelley Winters. Tragedy always comes in the shape of a triangle. Watch the trailer.

The Quiet Man
Admittedly pure 1952 corn (John Wayne plays the hero, for cryin’ out loud) but when you break it down this is a great one: Wayne and red-haired Maureen O’Hara. Ireland. A man who doesn’t stand up for his woman and then does. Ireland. Love. Watch the trailer.

Shall We Dance?
No, not the Richard Gere stinker – the original 1996 Japanese tale of an unhappy accountant who takes ballroom dance lessons on the sly is the one you want. Its look at the small victories that can lift one above a crushing banality of everyday life is mind-blowingly moving. If you ever wanted to figure out whether or not your partner has a soul, this is the ultimate litmus test. Watch the trailer.

Okay, while I could work on this list for hours I have to stop before someone notices and I lose my job, my family, and become a sobbing mess for reasons other than rejoicing at Jane Eyre’s reuniting with Rochester.

But while I must quit you can go on below (note: I haven’t seen The Notebook but that one seems like it could devour a box of tissues).

Like what you’re reading? Bookmark “The Dadler” and don’t miss a word.

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Post by Admin on Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:00 pm

Michael O’Connor’s Sumptuous Period Costumes in Jane Eyre
by John Lopez
March 25, 2011, 12:00 AM

Before leaving prestige season fully behind, there’s one last morsel of costume-finery fun to check out: Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. Fukunaga broke onto the scene with gritty gang tale Sin Nombre, so adapting Charlotte Brontë’s classic Victorian novel is both an interesting follow-up and a challenge, considering how many film versions of the book are out there. Fortunately, Fukunaga succeeds entirely in crafting a thrilling love story that looks both classic and refined while feeling fresh and relevant. This comes thanks in no small part to its two talented young stars, Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska and Inglourious Basterds’ film-critic hunk Michael Fassbender. Even though the two are far from the homely shut-ins Brontë originally described, the sheer force of their acting and chemistry brings this classic romance to vivid life.

But an essential element to a great costume drama is obviously great costumes, and Jane Eyre’s costume designer Michael O’Connor hits the bulls-eye with creations that don’t distract from the story, but nonetheless leave you with an urge to buy a cravat/frock-coat combo.

After winning an Oscar for The Duchess, O’Connor has quickly become a new go-to-guy for great period garb. He told Little Gold Men that Fukunaga’s approach to keeping an oft-told tale as fresh as possible was to go for utter authenticity: “There’s different versions [of Jane Eyre], but you can always tell the period [the movie] was made from hairstyles and such. We wanted to go back to the real thing, and set it really when we thought it was written—especially with the cottons, textiles, and textures we used. They’re all based on real designs of the time.”

Fortunately for O’Connor, there was no shortage of reference materials. He researched all the children’s clothing at a children’s museum in London, and he even found an American Web site that had block prints of original 19th-century patterns, which he ended up using to make Jane Eyre’s final dress—topping it with a shawl original to the time and a bonnet made of straw from the period. “The lining, the buttons, the stitching, everything was totally researched. I always say, ‘Is there a reference for that, is that something they did?’ And if people say [they] don’t know, then I say we can’t do it—there’s so much information from that time that there’s no excuse not to have it.”

Does he ever fee; tempted to slip in an out-of-context piece for dramatic effect? “It’s tempting, but there’s no need. The truth is interesting enough. Jane is a sort of plain character, but that doesn’t mean she’s unstylish. She’s wearing shades of gray with white collars, and she can still look quite smart or quite nice and serviceable—not overly fussy.” O’Connor found his fun in tweaking the shades of gray and white collars—subtle differences that you can see in these images. Although Jane Eyre appears to be wearing the same governess uniform over and over, the collar and shades of gray are changing slightly depending on her mood. This thinking extended to O’Connor’s one great opportunity to have fun with Jane’s sartorial choices: her wedding dress. “The thing was to make it simple. Rochester is always trying to buy her things, which she rejects because that’s her character. So [the aim] was to make it a simple dress, and shorten the length. Jane’s a country girl, it’s a country dress, and it’s fitted and tight-sleeved, rather like her day dresses, like her character.”

For Rochester, O’Connor took a functional approach: “For any character—Jane, or Rochester—you’ve got to think what they sleep in, when they wake up, what’s the natural thing for them to do, what do they put on first. It’s about being real and functional. In rural times, most of the time they stayed in riding clothes, especially Rochester, because they’re always out on the grounds,” he says. O’Connor’s aim for authenticity even extended to something the camera will never see: underwear. He explained that in Victorian times, men went commando; instead of wearing boxers, they had long shirts whose excess length (down to the knee) functioned as underwear. Even though you don’t always see it, this clothing quirk had a real effect that O’Connor needed to replicate: “When the shirt’s pushed into the trousers, it creates that smooth shape. If you don’t do that, you never make the trousers fit, and people would spend time wondering why it didn’t quite look the way it should.” Rochester’s one piece of real flair was his cravat, which O’Connor said Fukunaga was eager to display: “Cary was very keen on those; he’d send reference pictures he’d found. It’s very important for men—that’s the only way they get to show those things, the silk around their neck and the silk around their waistcoats.”

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Post by Admin on Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:20 am

Win Win, Jane Eyre, Meek’s Cutoff – Can Any of Them Last?
04/07/11 - Posted by Sasha Stone in 2011

It was nice to read on Twitter that Cinemablend’s Katey Rich, responding to a tweet by Kris Tapley, considered Jane Eyre to be a film worthy of “being in the Oscar conversation.” And Meek’s Cutoff did have its admirers, but I was told, in no uncertain terms, by several Tweeters, Anne Thompson and Guy Lodge among them, that it had no shot – Academy voters are way too in love with the films of the moment — or, those put in front of them for the main course, at any rate – to notice Kelly Reichardt’s subtle work (see the recent NY Times story on the film). Win Win, a movie by Tom McCarthy, might have a Richard Jenkins in Paul Giamatti. One cannot help but feel discouraged, however, when one has followed this race as long as one has.

As I dutifully chart the potential films for awards season 2011, I always put them on the contender tracker when they are receive stunningly good reviews, or they capture something of the public’s attention to the degree that the film does surprisingly well at the box office – and isn’t a comedy (they hate comedies), and isn’t a sci fi film (for the most part, they hate sci fi), and isn’t a summer blockbuster (they hate action movies). Animation films like Rango can last. But it is damned hard to pluck anything out of April and watch it stick. Still, just to spite them, I’m tempted to put all three of these movies up – even though you just know other films will come along to take their place.

Jane Eyre has a metacritic rating of 77. Win Win also has a Metacritic rating of 77. Meek’s Cutoff, with only 8 reviews so far, has a rating of 82, but tips wildly in opposite directions – a score of 100 by Eric Kohn, while Rex Reed gives it a lowly 25. Divisive. Difficult. Interesting. Not middling, sappy or easily digestible. That means, Oscar will not want to eat it for dinner. But let’s wait and see, shall we?

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Post by Admin on Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:44 am

Jane Eyre
Tags Dario Marianelli, Focus Feature, Info, Sony Classical, Soundtracks Added By Nerwen Elendil

Little can I say about Dario Marianelli. Words are meaningless when it comes to describe this composer’s work – or better, masterworks. And adding my favourite book (and hopefully, favourite movie) and one of my favourite composers, just makes me want to give him the Oscar straight away.

If you need someone to create a simple, gently yet astonish and amazingly beautiful score for a drama period/ love story like “Jane Eyre”, Marianelli is the right guy for the job. Who you gonna call? Okay, that wasn’t funny, I admit!

I have a big passion for violins (is not a secret for those who already know me) and this score is bursting with it. Although my favourite soundtrack composed by this Italian born composer is “Pride and Prejudice”, where piano is the fundamental key and base of the entire score, in “Jane Eyre” he absolutely bets in the strong, haunting strings played by Jack Liebeck. The melody suits the mood of this love story, especially Jane and Mr. Rochester, perfectly.

As a fan of the book, I can feel the story unfold as I go through the soundtrack and it makes me want to see the movie quite desperately. 21st April is still far away – even though it’s just a week away, now.

My pick is track number 11 “Yes!” I’m guessing, by the title, this song is from the proposal scene – one of my favourite scenes in the book with my favourite line delivered by Jane. I can feel the passion and tension between the two lovebirds, the atmospheric around then, the sunset, the kisses, the embrace and, specially, Mr. Rochester declaration of his love and proposal to Jane.

The only thing I have to say now is: Thank you, Dario!

The Soundtrack

Composed By: Dario Marianelli
Release Date: March 8th, 2011
Number Of Tracks: #19
Full Length: 44 minutes
Classification Of The Album: **** (4,5 Stars)
Label: Sony Classics
Year: 2011
Review & Info: Here
Buy: [Portugal - unavailable] [UK] [USA]

Track List:
• 1 Wandering Jane (3:01)
• 2 A Thorough Education (2:24)
• 3 Arrival at Thornfield Hall (1:18)
• 4 The End of Childhood (1:13)
• 5 White Skin Like the Moon (2:43)
• 6 A Game of Badminton (0:58)
• 7 In Jest or Earnest (2:06)
• 8 Do You Never Laugh, Miss Eyre? (1:21)
• 9 A Restless Night (1:59)
• 10 Waiting for Mr. Rochester (2:06)
• 11 Yes! (2:01)
• 12 Mrs. Reed is Not Quite Finished (2:23)
• 13 The Wedding Dress (2:11)
• 14 An Insuperable Impediment (2:58)
• 15 Jane's Escape (2:17)
• 16 Life on the Moors (1:23)
• 17 The Call Within (3:42)
• 18 Awaken (4:25)
• 19 My Edward and I (3:53)

My Pick
Title: "Yes!"
Movie: "Jane Eyre" by Cary Fukunaga
Year: 2011
Number Of The Track: #11
Time: 2:01
Info: Here
Classification: ***** (5 Stars)


The Movie

Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Screenplay By: Moira Buffini
Based On: "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte
Produced By: Alison Owen/ Paul Trijbits
Cast: Mia Wasikowska/ Michael Fassbender/ Jamie Bell/ Dame Judi Dench/ Imogen Poots/ Holly Grainger/ Sally Hawkins/ Harry Lloyd
Studios: BBC Films/ Ruby Films
Distributed By: Focus Features
Release Date: March 11th, 2011 (USA)/ September 9th, 2011 (UK)
DVD Release Date: Yet To Be Announced
Official Site:
Buy Movie: Not Released Yet

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Post by Admin on Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Dario Marianelli – Jane Eyre (Original Score)
Posted on April 28, 2011 by Samuel

I never thought I would make a post about anything involving Jane Eyre. I read the book for my freshman English class in high school and hated it to the point of burning it, taking pictures of me burning it and sending those pictures to my English teacher. Literary classic or not, I simply couldn’t handle it. (Reading right after the similarly-hated “Rebecca” did it no favors either.) But here I am and much to my surprise I’m immensely enjoying something with “Jane Eyre” smacked on the title.

Ironically, as an English major now, I’ve had to find music to research Early modern English Literature (and Law) to. In my stumblings, I came across this, the soundtrack by Dario Marianelli for a new film adaptation of Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. The film was released on very select screens in March in U.S. and garnered a fairly sizable chunk of change considering, so it’s probably worth checking out if you’re in the area of one of the select screens. You can watch a trailer here.

I was intrigued originally by the concept of Jane Eyre in classical form, as at the time those were the two labels I had to define it. Though I have to admit that, like many albums before it, it was the artwork that really got me.

Much to my surprise, the album fit perfectly in the type that was looking for: music that was compelling enough to keep me interested, though not so overbearing as to distract me from my (pretty dry) work. In retrospect, I should probably have been searching for soundtracks the whole time. Nonetheless, I believe I stumbled upon something that, even in its particular genre, is special.

Dario Marianelli’s also done soundtrack work for V for Vendetta, The Brothers Grimm, Pride & Prejudice and The Soloist. He won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Score, for his work on Atonement. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of him before this random find, but that’s a pretty strong back catalog.

It’s a bit difficult to talk about film scores as they’re almost always constructed around the scenes they are meant to compliment and, as a result, you lose some of the original artistic vision that went into the creation when you hear only the audio. That said, it is also the strength of film scores that they are able to conjure up strong emotion and images.

Jane Eyre keeps a fairly somber tone throughout, with lilting harps, etheral voices and (of course) stirring strings that mostly serve to build a sense of tension. There are points of release, such as the end of “White Skin Like the Moon,” with its soft, slow harp, that serve to relieve this tension, but the work is fairly consistent in its approach and tone. Likely, this is something that is complimented by, say, a muted visual pallet in the film, though the work is certainly strong enough to carry this on its own.

Primarily made up of tracks with either string work, carried by a single violin, or a solo piano, Marianelli keeps the whole work fairly consistent. This is fitting of a period piece–there certainly won’t be any crazy electronics or rock influence ala The Dark Knight or The Social Network, nor are there the booming horns of, say, Shore’s The Lord of the Ring’s. That said, there are clear moments of melodic intrigue that help to keep the tracks from bleeding into one another. This is particularly true of my favorite track, “A Game of Badminton,” a short piano composition that swells up a good many emotions for me, from reminiscence and nostalgia to quiet introspection and mourning. The piano work throughout is fairly strong in this regard.

That isn’t to say anything of the other tracks, which have a greater tendency to overlap one another sonically–granted, I’m usually listening to this while doing other things–but still have distinct tones and feelings to them. “A Restless Night” is dark, tense, as a track so entitled should, while “Yes!” is much more warm and embracing, though it does keep with the somber, muted tone of the whole work. The latter contains that tell-tale harp (pun not quite intended) that seems to indicate positivity, though it also contains some absolutely excellent, stirring violin work with a firm emotionality.

I have to grant that Jane Eyre contains all of the problems of a film soundtrack. Without a visual aid, it mostly serves as a form of templates and ideas rather than a full, cohesive musical work. It’s tracks can easily bleed over into one another. You might get halfway through the album and not even realize there was a change in track. Yet, I have to say that I don’t consider any of these things problems. Good film scores are like good ambient albums: they are not invasive enough to demand your attention, but they reward it when it’s given. This duality of purpose is one that makes both styles easy to ignore, though the reward is that much sweeter when it’s found.

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Post by Admin on Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:05 pm

Thursday, July 14, 2011
Bonnie's Jane Eyre Rankings
I just had a personal "Jane Eyre-a-thon" in which I watched just about every Jane Eyre adaption ever made all day. I've compared Rochesters, compared Janes, analyzed chemistry, talked about and reviewed a few adaptions. Having now compared each and weighed the positives and negatives, I have now officially ranked all the Jane Eyre adaptions according to my personal ("personal" is in italics to emphasize the fact that I know that some of you won't agree with me) opinion.

For any of you haven't seen some (or any) of the adaptions, I hope that this may help serve as a guideline to you, but we must all forge out own opinions when we watch adaptations of novels. I've always stressed in almost every post in which I must compare aspects of an adaption that the success of a film or miniseries wholly depends on your personal image of the novel. With that being said, this ranking is done based on my image. As always, PLEASE comment because even though I am very decided in my opinions, I still always love to hear the rankings of others.

The rankings will go from ten to one with ten being the worst and one being my personal favorite. Each ranking will include a mini (paragraph or two) review. I'll try not to take up too much of your time, but it's hard not to get a bit carried away when speaking (or typing) on a subject as enjoyable as Jane Eyre. So here we go!

10. Jane Eyre 1934 starring Virginia Bruce as Jane, Colin Clive as Rochester.
Oh, goodness! This adaptation was so horrible that it had tears of laughter coming to my eyes. Everything about it just screams "Spoof!" But surprisingly enough, I did genuinely enjoy a few moments when I wasn't laughing myself to death. This version deviated horribly from the novel. Rochester is Adele's "uncle" in this version and there are some other changes that aren't even worth mentioning. Actually, this version as a whole isn't worth mentioning. Everything from the very first scene to Virginia Bruce saying "I've brought your tea Edward" is just horrid. I can't even give it slack for the time period. Grade: F+. The plus sign is only added for a decent effort and a cute Adele.

9. Jane Eyre 1949 starring Mary Sinclair as Jane and Charlton Heston as Rochester
This is only slightly better than the 1934. Actually, that's not true. It's much better but still not very good at all. It was a low budget adaptation made for American TV in the 1940s, so I will cut it SOME slack. The setting made Thornfield seem like an American townhouse rather than an estate and from what I remember, every scene took place in the SAME room. The one upside is that it starred Charlton Heston as Rochester. He wasn't good, but it's Charlton Heston so he automatically counts as an upside. The other upside is that this is the ONLY adaption (from what I recollect) that actually includes Rochester's famous slip up, "Goodnight my--." Grade: D-

8. Jane Eyre 1996 starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane and William Hurt as Rochester
For some reason I feel like I'm going to get a lot of heat for ranking this adaptation so low. From what I've seen on the internet, some people actually count this as their definitive Jane Eyre adaption. I don't understand it, but it's all a matter of opinion I guess. For all it's worth, this version really wasn't all that bad. It just wasn't as good as the rest of them. There was a complete lack of chemistry between the two leads, a horrible sense of "blah" from Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a feeling of utter sleepiness from William Hurt.
I'm glad that this version actually paid some heed to the age difference between Jane and Rochester and I also liked some of the blatant symbolism such as "the shadows are just as important as the light" and "the roses had thorns" but it felt like this movie was taken apart and put back together in chunks. And the leaving scene (which I count as one of the most important scenes in the novel) was practically nonexistent! Grade: C-

7. Jane Eyre 1997 starring Samantha Morton as Jane and Ciaran Hinds as Rochester
Once again, not that bad. Just not that good. This adaptation could have ranked so much higher had it not been for Ciaran Hinds who made a horrible Rochester. All I can remember is "scream scream scream." The chemistry was horrible and made even worse by the messiest kiss I've ever seen. There were also enormous details either left out or changed for no apparent reason. All details of Lowood are merely skimmed over. Jane's return to Gateshead isn't actually put in the film at all, it's one of those "I'm leaving" and then cut-to "I'm back!" kind of scenarios. But there were streaks of genius such as when Rochester and Jane watch the sun rise, and even the reunion scene was done solidly. I noticed that Rochester's injuries were done pretty well. I also love how Rochester gives sympathy to his wife in this version. Just a little kiss on the head made him seem like much less of a villain. Grade: C

6. Jane Eyre 1973 starring Sorcha Cusack as Jane and Michael Jayston as Rochester
I only ranked this higher than the '97 because it was the first adaptation to really include all the details of the novel. Details are rather important and can make up for lack of chemistry and acting skill. Sorcha Cusack's Jane had the same facial expression for every emotion! Her eyebrows stayed at the roof of her head for most of the miniseries. Michael Jayston was an "okay" Rochester, but he didn't inhabit the role whatsoever. This adaption made Jane Eyre come off as a "quaint little love story", which it most definitely is NOT! Jane Eyre is supposed to be full of darkness, danger, and passion but this version's cast, music, and setting made everything seem much too happy. There was no sense of torment, no emotionally charged atmosphere evoked by either the set or the actors. Grade: C

5. Jane Eyre 1970 starring Susannah York as Jane and George C. Scott as Rochester
Not bad. I was very forgiving of this adaption for some reason. A lot of details were skipped over and the actors weren't at all who I would pick to play Jane and Rochester, but something about this adaption worked really well. Even though York and Scott weren't necessarily "Jane and Rochester", they had a good on screen chemistry that surpassed that of a lot of other adaptions. The ages of the characters were completely disregarded, St. John is much too nice and very creepy, and the Lowood scenes are breezed over (again) but it was still really good!
I don't understand what it is about this version that had me smiling. It fails in all the small details but when it came to the core of Jane and Rochester's relationship, it delivered. However, its lack of faithfulness to the novel makes it hard to watch sometimes, even with the good chemistry and a few tear-jerking moments. Grade: C

4. Jane Eyre 1944 starring Joan Fontaine as Jane and Orson Welles as Rochester
Are you surprised that I ranked it this high? I know, so am I. But it was good! You really see the true gothic elements of the novel in this movie. Joan Fontaine is much too pretty to be playing Jane, but she was still good. Orson Welles was a very good Rochester. He definitely helped the film a lot because he was the closest to my mental image of the character. He was the first truly intimidating Rochester. They just don't make classics like this movie anymore. Sure, it's got cheesy graphics and melodrama in bundles, but it's still a solid adaption with solid settings, solid actors, and a solid inclusion of some important details from the novel. I also love how this version conducted the big revelation of Mrs. Rochester. It was rather scary! Grade: B-

3. Jane Eyre 1983 starring Zelah Clarke as Jane and Timothy Dalton as Rochester
This is truly the adaption that sticks closest to the book. In fact, it sticks so close that sometimes it seems like there wasn't even any need to write the screenplay because it felt like the actors used the original novel as their only script. The problem with sticking that close is that there is such as thing as too close. Sometimes this adaption just felt like it was too close. But it was still really good! Zelah Clarke (though too old) was a presentable Jane. Timothy Dalton was a great Rochester that actually fit the physical description of the character. The chemistry was lovely (in most areas, not all) and all the details of Jane's childhood and her experiences with St. John were dwelled on with more emphasis than any other adaption.
This version has a very large fan base. A lot of Jane Eyre enthusiasts would deem this adaption their definitive version because of its undying faithfulness to the novel. If you're looking for a cheap way out of reading the book without failing your English test then I would recommend you watch it, even though you could probably read the book faster because this version is very long. But in my personal opinion, faithfulness to the source material is not the only thing to look for in an adaption, and so in a lot of other areas this version fell too short to be my definitive. Grade: B

2. Jane Eyre 2006 starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Rochester
Great adaption! This one has the greatest fan base by far it seems. Details all made it through in tact, gothic elements were definitely present, chemistry between leads was amazing. Ruth Wilson played a really great Jane though she (like the rest of them) was a little too old. Toby Stephens was a lovely Rochester, though not as forceful as I might have liked. You can't deny that the two leads had a great chemistry. I also loved the St. John in this adaption. Something about him was just much more likable than those in previous versions. I warmed up to him much more and he created a better foil for Rochester. Everything about this version was just good. Ruth was a natural and passionate Jane. Toby Stephens was a gloomy and sensual Rochester. I loved the way that this version delves into Rochester's memories. Instead of having Rochester just tell us what he's been through, they show us, which helps fully impress us with the emotions of his past. The flow of the plot moved fast enough to keep me actively engaged without compromising the details from the novel. They even threw in a tweaked gypsy scene! If it's all that good, then why is it only second?
The one thing I just couldn't stand was the lack of faithfulness to the novel when it came to dialogue. It seems like I've said this over and over, but I'll say it again; the script just seemed way too dumbed down! It frustrated me to pain that the screenplay wasn't done better, because if it had been then it probably would have been my definitive version. Oh well. Grade: A

1. Jane Eyre 2011 starring Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Rochester
I can just feel the controversy coming on! Let me just say that deeming this version my favorite was a very tough decision. I can't tell you how close I was to just declaring it a tie between this and the '06. Let me tell you what finally gave the '11 the edge, though. I think that out of all the adaptions ever made, this one did the best job of taking the essence of the novel and translating it to a screen. No, it was not completely faithful like the 1983 when it came to small detail, but I don't necessarily think that every detail of the novel should be put in an adaption. No, it didn't dwell on some things as much as the 2006. But when it comes down to it, this version had the best adapted script, paid the most attention to the gothic details, and arguably had the best portrayal of the characters.
I felt the pain of Jane's childhood without having to spend an hour on it. I could feel the heat of the passion between the two leads through the screen. I got a great picture of Jane's life with St. John and his contrast to Rochester through the use of flashback. Mia Wasikowska was a young, acute, and understanding Jane. Michael Fassbender was a sardonic, probing, and passionate Rochester. The costumes were spot-on. The dark cinematography nailed the feel of the novel. All the essential elements of the novel were compressed without being chunked and translated without being lost. Everything was done well. Is it my definitive? No. None of the adaptions are. Grade: A

I feel some comments coming on!!

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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:36 pm

Friday, July 15, 2011
Why do all screen adaptations of Jane Eyre miss the point?
Yes, the point is stupid, but if you're going to make a film of a book, maybe you should, you know, make a film of the book.

The point is that Jane is so honest and virtuous and passionately in love with Mr. Rochester that, even though he is not handsome (and is a bigamous weirdo) and St. John looks more or less like the Apollo Belvedere, she rejects St. John and goes back to Mr. Rochester. Here are some helpful summary points:

1. Mr. Rochester is ugly.
2. St. John is gorgeous.
3. St. John is an over-bearing twit.

Now, ugly people don't appear in films, except British films. So you could accept a merely average Mr. Rochester. But even in British films, we generally do rather better than average. In the adaptations I have seen or considered, we have: Ciarán Hinds, Timothy Dalton, Toby Stephens, and Michael Fassbender. Their St. John counterparts are, in order: Rupert Penry-Jones, Andrew Bicknell, Andrew Buchan, and Jamie Bell.

Ciarán Hinds is much too good-looking for Rochester, but a great deal less good-looking than Rupert Penry-Jones, so that's a solid start. However, because these people can't capitalize on the success into which they have stumbled, they give poor Mr. Penry-Jones an appalling haircut and make him too nice. Thus missing the point on St. John, although not as aggressively missing the point on Jane.

Timothy Dalton played James Bond, and is therefore definitionally too sexy for Mr. Rochester. Andrew Bicknell is now reduced to playing parts like "Prison Ferry Pilot" in The Dark Knight, and that's not secretly "Apolline Prison Ferry Pilot." So whoops.

Now, Toby Stephens. Toby Stephens is chiefly remarkable for being so gorgeous that he probably ought to be kicked. He is not a very good actor, but he has an excellent profile (even when there are diamonds in his face, which there actually never are). One laughs out loud in the scene where Jane tells him he is not handsome. Andrew Buchan is the sort of person who plays rough, honest village types; one might plausibly cast him as Adam Bede. Fumble there, too.

Michael Fassbender is, for his part, not offensively beautiful, but compared to Jamie Bell he comes off quite well. We all thought Jamie Bell was going to grow up cute when we saw Billy Elliot, but when it came time to make Nicholas Nickleby he was Smike and not Nicholas, so.... There are a million young and gorgeous blonds out there. Also there is hair dye. Come on, people.

(Why have I seen so many Jane Eyres when I hate it so much? Because I am fond of the type of actor who makes dubious period films. We all have our crosses to bear.)
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:35 am

Mia Wasikowska in ‘Jane Eyre’: Mental Illness as Moral Taint
By Joseph Burgo PhD

If you’re a fan of 19th century fiction like me, you’ve no doubt read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and seen one of the many fine film and TV adaptations. The first such version was a silent film released in 1910, with eight or nine more to follow before the classic Orson Welles – Joan Fontaine film from 1944. Many other movie and TV adaptations have been made since then, some memorable, others not so much; but this latest version with Mia Wasikowska in the title role is a superb rendition of the classic tale. Both Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender as Rochester give stand-out performances; the direction by Cary Fukunaga is superb.

Many important themes run throughout the novel Jane Eyre, and some of them make it onto the large or small screen: atonement and forgiveness, feminism, the search for home and family. The story also includes many vivid psychological portraits, rich in insight; I could discuss any one of them, but instead, I’d like to talk about its view of mental illness. It’s a small part of the story but fascinating from a historical perspective. We live in an age where people commonly discuss the roots of emotional difficulties in childhood, and how family patterns of communication shape our psychology; it’s easy to forget that 150 years ago, people thought quite differently.

Society in Jane Eyre views mental illness as a form of both moral depravity and inherited physical corruption. Rochester’s insane wife, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, is portrayed as by nature sexually promiscuous, low-minded and of vicious temper. Due to time constraints, Rochester’s speeches in the film have been radically shortened from the novel, in which he speaks at great length about the “idiocy”, corruption and insanity that runs throughout the Mason family line. In other words, she comes from tainted stock. Her mental illness has nothing to do with what might have happened to her during childhood, or communication patterns within the family; it’s written in what would later become known as her “genes”.

While modern medical science has lately revived this idea of a genetic component to mental illness — a chemical imbalance in the brain — the early 19th century combined it with a moral perspective. Not only insanity but moral corruption runs throughout the Mason line. When Rochester talks about Bertha’s eventual breakdown, he describes it in moral terms: “I lived with her for four years. Her temper ripened, her vices sprang up, violent and unchaste.” In modern terms we might discuss the sexual promiscuity in borderline personality disorder, or extreme fluctuations in feeling states to be found in bipolar disorder, but we’d never refer to them as “vices”. In Rochester’s view, in Bronte’s view, Bertha is “just plain bad” and there’s nothing more to be said about her.

Though Fukunaga’s adaptation faithfully portrays this archaic point of view, one scene in the film nonetheless contains the seeds of a more modern understanding. After Bertha’s brother interrupts the wedding and Rochester escorts them all to the attic to meet his wife, Bertha at first responds to her husband with deep affection. Then, when she sees Jane, she becomes enraged and violently assaults him. One can imagine that she shifts from love to hatred in a moment, unable to bear the feelings of jealousy that come up at the sight of Jane. We could view it as an example of the extreme splitting characteristic of psychotic disorders, and the inability to bear emotion that results from an extremely impoverished emotional background. From a modern perspective, we might speculate that the failure of her mother to contain and make sense of her earliest emotional experience means that Bertha never developed the ability to hold on to and understand her own feelings; instead she’s overwhelmed and swept away by each of her passions as it arises. (To learn more about this process, please see this post on the early development of mind and meaning.)

But Jane Eyre is a gothic novel from the mid-19th century, of course, and the portrait of Bertha Antoinetta Mason lacks real psychological depth. As Rochester says about her, she’s actually a sort of “demon”. While he may take pity on his wife and save her from the mad house, in the story at large, she’s more of a plot device, an impediment to the union of Jane and Rochester, than a realistic portrait of tormented psychosis. It will take another 50 years or so before Breuer and Freud published their Studies on Hysteria and we began our modern investigation into the meaning of mental illness.

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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:21 am


Bronte Parsonage Museum
 (The Bronte Society)

Sunday September 11,2011
By Sunday Express Reporter

IT'S a beautifully bright and sunny day in Haworth.

The village’s smart Georgian parsonage wouldn’t look out of place on the cover of Period Living magazine and its perfectly manicured, colourful garden is in full bloom. All in all, the former home of the Brontë family paints an idyllic picture and it’s an image at odds with their legend, one associated with tragedy, isolation and an otherworldly creativity.

The day I visit, the people of Haworth will enjoy an advance screening of the new big-screen version of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska as a not-so-plain Jane and Michael Fassbender as her brooding employer, Mr Rochester. To celebrate the film’s release, the Sunday Express was given exclusive access to the archives of the family’s former home, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Library and collections officer Sarah Laycock has raided the archives for a selection of treasured artefacts off limits to the public, displayed in plastic folders on tissue-covered lecterns and handled by Sarah wearing surgical gloves. Only about two per cent of the collection is on display at any one time.

The sad story of the Brontës’ short lives holds almost as much eerie power as their literary success

The Brontë legend grew up in the wake of Charlotte’s 1847 classic novel Jane Eyre; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was published in the same year as was their sister Anne’s Agnes Grey. The novels of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, their male alter egos, represented an unprecedented outpouring of talent from one household.

The sad story of the Brontës’ short lives holds almost as much eerie power as their literary success. Their mother died aged 38 leaving their father Patrick, a curate, to raise five children. Their eldest sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis aged 11 and 10.

Branwell, their alcoholic brother, died of tuberculosis aged 31. Emily died in the same year, 1848, of the same disease, Anne following suit six months later. Charlotte lived long enough to marry Arthur Bell Nichols, only to die of what are now believed to have been pregnancy complications, aged 38.

The most moving piece of memorabilia in the Parsonage collection is the only known letter in which Charlotte refers to the fact that her siblings died in such close succession, written on black-bordered mourning stationery to her friend Letitia Wheelwright. The Brontë Society paid £70,000 for the letter when it came up for auction, its tiny, faded script barely decipherable.

“On the 24th September my only brother, after being long in weak health and latterly consumptive, though we were far from apprehending immediate danger, died quite suddenly as it seemed to us. He had been out two days before. The shock was great.

“Ere he could be interred I fell ill. Although nervous fever fell me very weak, as I was slowly recovering my sister Emily whom you knew, was seized with inflammation of the lungs. Two agonising months… followed and on the 19th December she died.

“She was scarcely cold in her grave when Anne my youngest and last sister who had been delicate all her life exhibited symptoms that struck us with acute alarm. We sent for the first advice that could be procured and she was examined with a stethoscope and the dreadful fact was announced that... tubercular consumption had already made considerable progress.” Anne died within six months of Emily.

Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte’s biographer, heard a poignant story from the Brontës’ servant, Tabby, who explained that Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell would all walk around the dining room table, sharing and discussing their writing and ideas. After they had died, the saddest sound was that of Charlotte doing a solitary circuit around the table.

We are also shown two of the miniscule books, about 1.5ins long, that Charlotte and Branwell made out of sugar bags or wallpaper fragments and hand-bound themselves. Unless you were among the collection of toy soldiers for whom the stories were intended, you would need a magnifying glass to decipher the minute script. Their size serves a dual purpose. “Sometimes the content was a little bit inappropriate, quite gruesome, like children being hanged. They didn’t want their father to be able to read it!”

Charlotte’s talent for drawing and painting is also relatively unknown but evident on a pencil drawing of Bolton Abbey, which was even exhibited in a Leeds art gallery, and a watercolour, Wild Roses From Nature.

A letter written to her best friend Ellen Nussey in 1843 shows a small caricature of them both in which Charlotte portrays herself as an ugly dwarf character.

“She hated people looking at her and she thought she was very ugly,” says Susan Newby, telling the story of how Charlotte was eager to look as smart as possible on a trip to London. “She didn’t know what to do with her hair so she got a friend to buy her a hairpiece but apparently it wasn’t the right colour. In London, she was asked: ‘Where did you get your funny hat?'”

Our tour finished, it’s over to Haworth’s Baptist Church where we squeeze on to the bottom-numbing pews for the film’s local premiere. There have, to date, been 17 big-screen interpretations of Jane Eyre, not to mention the 12 TV adaptations. What made director Cary Fukunaga, also in Haworth for the screening, decide there was room for another one?

“For me, the story is unique,” he says. “Not only is the heroine a very strong woman who makes her own decisions but the early Gothic literature brings in darker elements that were so different from, say, Jane Austen 20 years earlier.” That Gothic element is one he brings to the fore in his version of the film.

Fukunaga’s great coup was persuading Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench to take the part of Rochester’s housekeeper Mrs Fairfax after writing her “a sweet letter telling her how big a fan I was. She said she’d do it which was pretty awesome. On set, she had the energy of someone making their first film”.

Dench has joked that she read Jane Eyre “when Charlotte Brontë had just written it. This story has been done many times but I felt that Cary had quite different, dark ideas about it”.

Right now, the Brontë sisters are, as they say, having a moment. Also imminent is Andrea Arnold’s version of Wuthering Heights while Blake Morrison has adapted a Chekhov play into a Brontë story, We Are Three Sisters.

Fukunaga’s wonderfully atmospheric film is already widely tipped as an Oscar contender. Even if, as its makers hope, this version of Jane Eyre becomes the definitive version, when it comes to a story this potent, it certainly won’t be the last.

Jane Eyre is in cinemas now. Read Henry Fitzherbert’s review on page 56.

Details of the Bronte Parsonage Museum at; 01535 642 323.

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Post by Admin on Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:55 pm

Feb 20 2012 01:00 PM ET


Oscars 2012 Behind the Scenes: 'Jane Eyre' costume designer Michael O'Connor on keeping Michael Fassbender clothed
by Mandi Bierly

Each year, the Oscars recognize A-list talent we regularly see on screen, on the red carpet, and in tabloids. But the Academy Awards also reward those who work behind the scenes: the writers, editors, costume designers, and others who help create trophy-worthy movie magic. This Oscars season, we’ll be toasting those off-screen artists by delving into the hidden secrets that helped create the on-screen magic that we — and the Academy — fell in love with. For more access backstage during this Oscars season, click here for’s Oscars Behind the Scenes coverage.

In a year all about getting Michael Fassbender naked (thank you, Shame, and numerous magazine photo shoots), he couldn’t have been more buttoned up in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. Oscar-nominated costume designer Michael O’Connor, who already has an Academy Award for 2008’s The Duchess, spoke to EW about Mr. Rochester’s signature day look and smoldering sleepwear — and the myth that clothing a man in a period film is easier than dressing a woman.


It’s a pivotal, intimate moment in the film when Jane (Mia Wasikowska) wakes a sleeping Rochester to save him from the flames in his bedroom. “I think there was talk of Michael doing the scene in the nude. But we didn’t know about Shame, at the time,” O’Connor laughs. “I imagine he could have been persuaded.”

Oscars 2012: Get the latest news, photos, and more

Though it looks like Rochester is wearing a male nightgown, it’s actually one of his handmade linen day shirts, which was based on an original Victorian design. “Sometimes gentlemen did sleep in their shirts. The shirts were quite long in those times for specific purposes, to fill out the shapes of their trousers and because they didn’t have underwear,” O’Connor says. Prepare for the best history lesson ever! “It starts coming in. There are linen shorts that some men wore. But most didn’t. The shirt is down nearly to the knee. So before they put their trousers on, they’d tuck their shirt in the front between their legs and in the back between their legs, and fold it in, rather like a diaper or a nappy, and then pull the trousers on top,” he explains. “It helps when you’re looking at old paintings and photographs [to understand why] the men are depicted quite smooth, because they have the length in the shirt that fills out the top and the bottom, so it’s almost like a slight padding, if you like, or another layer of material between the trousers and the skin.”

This is part of the conversation that takes place in an actor’s wardrobe fitting, O’Connor says. “You say, ‘The trousers are high like that because it reveals more of the body, and the shirt fits long because the trousers are bigger, and you’ll see why when you put the shirt on and tuck the shirt in like this, and pull the trousers on like that. Now you see, that’s the shape. And then the coat’s waisted this way to give that flair. They are clever people, those Victorians.’”

But not gratuitous: Was there talk of Fassbender showing more heavage? “The shirts don’t open all the way down. They only open to just under the chest. That’s as low as it could have ever gone,” O’Connor says. “I think those shirts are quite sexy anyway.”


Is it easier to dress a man in a period film? “No, not at all. It’s very difficult,” O’Connor says. For instance, the type of cloth they had to make men’s frock coats in those days doesn’t exist anymore. “Because the material was so tightly woven, the first problem is finding the right cloth. For Rochester, we used a tight cotton weave, because the wools today are too soft and too shiny and too floppy,” he says. Also, “It’s very difficult to get the cut right on the frock coat because it’s very subtle. Men’s clothing changes very, very subtly, whereas women’s, you can reference paintings and photographs to see how it changes and it’s quite evident,” O’Connor says. “I went to great lengths to make sure the frock coat was the right shape and to try to make it look like it was something that he wears most days — a serviceable day formal frock coat. When he’s in light pants, with a check waist coast, and his frock coat, that’s him at his heart.”


O’Connor, pictured on set with Wasikowska, estimates it took a half hour to get her dressed. “Mia wears era-appropriate knickers under her costume, and those stockings are held up with garters, and she wears two petticoats not one. I didn’t know what Cary was going to do, whether he was going to have her sitting down, or running, or running up the stairs, or lifting her skirt. So if Cary decided to have her sitting on the steps with the girl, Adele, teaching her, and the skirts are rising up, the stockings would be knitted as they were at the time, so it didn’t matter how much you saw of her leg,” O’Connor says. “At all times, Mia, being the great sport that she is, wore the whole thing right from the corset to the bum pad. But I think that she found that it helped her. You have to wear the corset to get the shape of the dress on top, so the whole thing makes sense when you’re fully dressed. It makes you stand differently, it makes you behave differently. When you put the corset on, you’re sort of putting some of the character on.”
Check out one of the sketches for Jane:

“We know she’s plain Jane, and she doesn’t say very much in the beginning. She’s quite quiet observing everything around her,” O’Connor says. “But at the same time, there’s lovely moments in the film when she comes into the room and you get to see she has a slight style and a slight elegance about her. So choosing the materials for that, and trying to stay faithful to the time without making her frumpy and too dowdy, that was the tricky thing to crack. She doesn’t change that much, so when you choose the material and shape for Jane, you want to make sure it’s the right thing and that you haven’t gone too far up so she looks too upscale and you haven’t gone too far down so that she just looks flat.”

If he’s honored again for striking the right balance, O’Connor knows what to expect this time. “You’re sitting there and the next thing, your name’s called, and part of you is too embarrassed to go, and you think god, I just have to go up there on the stage, and then the rest is all sort of a blur, to be honest,” he recalls of his first win. “Many people say congratulations and people, like Sarah Jessica Parker in particular, are extremely lovely. Backstage, everyone’s very delightful. It’s not a bad experience.”

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