Jane Eyre (TV Mini-Series 2006) Poster


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Jane Eyre, finally on screen
alfa-1630 September 2006
Jane Eyre is a tough adaptation. You need a host of competent actors for the minor roles, good child actors and a brooding, fiery Bronte hero for Rochester, capable of attaching a variety of women and inspiring devotion in one of literature's great heroines.

There have been plenty of great Rochesters, George C Scott and Ciaran Hinds to name but two, and Toby Stephens may be another. The ladies certainly seem to think so.

But in Ruth Wilson we may finally have a memorable Jane Eyre. An actress who is strikingly beautiful but not superficially pretty. Who can look dour and empty, who is believably dull and innocent and yet simultaneously contains the fire for a great love story. She has fabulous poise and control. Only the smallest alterations of expression are required to communicate changing emotions bubbling below the surface. One of the reasons it fits so well into four hours is that Ruth can do 10 pages of prose with one change of expression. Adorable.

It goes along at a fair old pace. Jane is into and out of Lowood in the first 10 minutes. But the texture is right. The two central characters have sparked on and off each other very convincingly.

Will it be the one?

(After the Final Episode) There's no doubt. It is THE one. Started extremely well and got better and better. There are so many outstanding moments between the two leads and not just in the big scenes. Watch Ruth Wilson's incredible acting in the stairwell as she summons up the courage to enter the tower room to nurse Mason, balanced by Toby's concern followed by his wordless decision to trust her. Or his petulance as he welcomes her return from Gateshead, turning to delight in Jane's pleasure in coming home. The last episode is unforgettable. As good as television gets.

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I was hesitant at first...
HeatherSpares6 November 2006
...but now I am truly hooked. As I waited patiently for each hour of more Jane, I grew to admire the way the book was handled. Yes, much of Jane's past is missing, but what is there is captivating. Georgie Henley is scarily mature - more than she has a right to be - and her understanding of young Jane's gravity and passion was wonderfully portrayed.

When Ruth Wilson took the scene, I didn't see at first how she was the unearthly Jane I had read. But it became clearer and clearer, and by far she is the most human and understandable Jane yet. Her face speaks volumes as she says nothing. "That face," comments Toby Stephens' Rochester. It is true. Though we see her silent face many times, we have no problem guessing exactly what she is feeling.

At first, I thought Toby was disappointing. I quite liked the sarcasm of William Hurt in the 1996 version, and Mr. Stephens seemed more brash than sarcastic, more flirting than teasing. But it was the chemistry that quite obviously grew between these two characters that has solidified Toby Stephens as Edward Fairfax Rochester for me. For the first time in a movie version, I realized how much the two had become friends first, and then soul mates.

Two other things were handled extraordinarily. The sex and the scary. From dark corridors and floating candles, burning beds, portraits of mad people and blood dripping, Susanna White got her Gothic right. It is almost a ghost story. This suspense keeps the story from being overly lovey-dovey, and shows a real contrast between the white taffeta-covered aristocracy, and the darkly-clad Jane in Rochester's dim study.

As for the X factor, this is not Jane Austen. Women can have conversations with men alone in rooms. Dark-haired, exotic beauties can seduce with a look, cheat with a smile and sin the world round. All of it is not afraid to show up in this version. Rochester and Jane's connection, displayed quite innocently and platonic in some versions, blazes with passion in this. The flashbacks in the final hour of series are some of the steamiest and most emotionally charged parts of this production.

It's heart-warming, passionate, suspenseful, full of beautiful scenery and costuming; all in all, a whole 4 hours of excellent entertainment. Don't miss out.
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The BBC have done it again
buxombexter4 October 2006
A wonderful adaptation of this classic. The casting is excellent, Ruth makes a delightful and intriguing Jane and Toby Stephens is an utterly fantastic Rochester. This is a compelling series, each episode leaves you anxious to see the next. The set designers, costume designers have excelled themselves and the lighting in particular is superb.

The acting is generally of an extremely high standard and has been very well cast. I would not be surprised to see this adaptation doing for Bronte what Pride and Prejudice did for Austen. Toby Stephens' Rochester is even more ruggedly handsome and desirable than Darcy (if that is at all possible). This should be on everyone's list of things to watch.
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Outstanding drama - the best of the BBC
cm-926 September 2006
A lavish production in all the right ways (script, cast, direction, location, details), this is a perfect literary adaptation - very much in the heritage of the BBC's 1996 Pride and Prejudice, but perhaps even better. Toby Stephens (the son of Dame Maggie Smith) plays the brusque, flawed Mr Rochester with exactly the right admixture of arrogance and warmth, while newcomer Ruth Wilson is luminous as English rose Jane Eyre - like a swan swimming, her impassive face nevertheless conveys a wealth of feeling churning beneath. The location filming is handled deftly, with careful camera angles leaving us with the sense that we haven't seen everything yet - and oh, what locations: this is how it was always supposed to look.

Highly recommended.
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A wonderful adaptation!
krazykatie10 October 2006
This is the first adaptation of Jane Eyre that I have seen and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Ruth Wilson, a relative newcomer to TV, is fantastic in the role of Jane. She captivates the role brilliantly and her facial expressions say it all, she need not ever speak. She is an amazing actress and I hope to see her more in the future.

What can I say about Toby Stephens in the role of Mr Rochester? He was born to play the this part as he captures the brooding, mysteriousness of Mr Rochester perfectly. He is an amazing actor and extremely handsome, he has now replaced Mr Darcy as the love of my life, I didn't think it was possible girls but watch this and you will feel the same.

The chemistry between the two actors is amazing, I don't know what I am going to do with my Sunday nights when it finishes.
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What a True Masterpiece
titiefalaarious3 October 2006
Well what can one say about this adaptation

It is superb, anyone who does not like this version is mad, it has all the right qualities for a classic, Ruth Wilson is superb and i cannot believe that she is only fresh out of drama school what a brilliant actress she is amazing and has at last created the perfect Jane, fiery yet innocent, sad yet elated, she has brought the character off the paper and to life, and Toby Stephens OH MY GOD what a Rochester, hes is so gorgeous, we can now see what Jane is so attracted to, he has created a Rochester that is a certain rival for Mr Darcy sex god status. But he has also showed us the tortured soul that Rochester really was, shutting himself away while all the while just wanting someone to really love and love him in return.

I have seen nearly all the adaptations of Jane Eyre and this is the best in my opinion, not since P AND P have i had this much anticipation for a Sunday nights television

Well done BBC you have done it once again.
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Simply not Jane Eyre
jback-518 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having recently re-read the Charlotte Brontë's novel for the 30th time I noticed with pleasure how many film adaptations of that timeless novel are now available on DVD and I undertook the enterprise of watching them all. The Masterpiece version of 2006 was the last one I had to watch and the numerous positive reviews of it had led to me to expect an extraordinarily good version of the novel. I was utterly disappointed!

Nothing of what has fascinated generations of readers since the novel was published in 1847 appears in this particular version. It is more a perversion of the novel than an adaptation of it, and to call that film "Jane Eyre" is close to impudence. Firstly, the filmmakers cut out many crucial scenes of the novel, but invented others which have no relation to the novel whatsoever. Secondly, and for admirers of the novel this in nearly unbearable, next to none of the novel's fantastic dialogues between Rochester and Jane have been retained in their original form - thereby cutting out the essence of the novel's timeless charm. These dialogues (or rather Rochester's monologues) are beautifully written, fresh, unusual, striking and highly fascinating, and to change them in a stupid attempt to modernize them is to undermine the novel's most beautiful element. But even if one put up with all this and sided with those who say that a film adaptation of novel does not necessarily have to follow the novel's plot and retain its lines, this film would still be a failure because the script writers or director displayed a complete and sad disregard for the etiquette and conventions of the time in which the novel is set. The mid 19th century's established code of behaviour, its sense of propriety, decorum, decency and modesty are completely violated. Toby Stephens' Rochester and Ruth Wilson's Jane are both young, sensual and sex-conscious people and behave as a modern couple would. As a consequence they have no resemblance whatever to the characters of the book. The film's constant emphasis on the sexual attraction between Rochester and Jane is a gross deviation from the novel, which depicts a love between soul-mates, a love that arises from affinity of character and spirit. Apparently the filmmakers considered the emphasis on the sexual element as an appropriate means of modernizing the novel and securing the interest of a younger and supposedly shallow audience in the story. The most striking example of that is the parting scene between Jane and Rochester after the aborted wedding. They both lie on the bed, kiss repeatedly and seem near to taking off their clothes. This is an even worse distortion of the novel's pivotal parting scene than in the Hinds/Morton version, in which he tells her to go if she does not love him enough to stay. In the heartbreaking scene in the novel Jane rejects all Rochester's caresses and steels herself against his attempts to convince her to stay. The question must be allowed why filmmakers still continue to shoot films called "Jane Eyre", when all they retain from the novel are some parts of the plot. Why do they on the one hand obstinately set their films in the same period as the novel, with great attention to costume and setting, when they are on the other hand unable to display not only the true spirit of the novel but also that of the period?

All these points of criticism make it hard to decide whether the actors do a good job or not. If they wanted to portray the Rochester and Jane of the novel it is an utter failure on their part or on the part of the director. Toby Stephens' Rochester in particular has no resemblance at all to the novel's main character. He does not possess Rochester's charisma and overpowering presence and also fails to portray Rochester's torture of soul, his struggle with his conscience, his moodiness and abruptness. His Rochester is simply a weak, sensual young man, nothing more. Ruth Wilson is a good actress, but the woman she plays is a bold, self-confident, modern female, but not Jane Eyre.

As a conclusion it must be said that when one takes liberties in adapting a famous novel for the screen, as one is perfectly free to do, one should at least have a feeling for the spirit of the period one portrays. There have been many beautiful adaptations of famous novels in the last years, which were true both to the literary models as well as to the period in which the novels play (e.g. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma) and which have charmed the audiences without their having to be sexed up. The makers of the latest version of Jane Eyre unfortunately failed to recognize what is timeless in the novel and what is unchangeably bound to its time. The film is therefore an example of a senseless and insensitive attempt to modernize a classic novel.

The question then which of the other versions one prefers is of course largely a matter of taste. If, however, one is looking for truthfulness to the novel, you should turn to the BBC productions of 1973 and 1983. The 1973 is a nearly word-for word adaptation of the novel, but digresses from the novel in that Sorcha Cusack's Jane is a self-confident, robust and sophisticated young woman and does therefore not resemble the small, shy and elf-like Jane of the novel. And also Michael Jayston, although a good actor and a good Rochester, pales in comparison with Timothy Dalton, who portrays Rochester in the 1983 production, which is for me without question the ultimate version of Jane Eyre. This version follows the novel's plot scene for scene, retains the novel's wonderful lines and boasts of two leading actors who capture the essence of the character they played.
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Toby Stephens - One of the best performances EVER
rybackalex16 October 2006
I was looking forward to this series and wasn't disappointed. In my humble opinion its one of the best series the BBC have ever produced and in Toby Stephens Rochester we saw one of the greatest performances seen on British television. His scenes with Jane (Ruth Wilson) towards the end of episode 4 were extremely emotional. In fact I can't watch Toby's scenes back without crying my eyes out. I've grown to care about Rochester and thats undoubtedly due to the depth of feeling Toby gave to the role. I look forward to seeing this amazing actor in future roles.

I do hope the music from the series will be issued on CD.
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I Never Wanted It To End!
ivegonemod3 February 2007
I have never read the book, but I did see the 1996 version of the story. That was my favorite until I saw this one. I can't truly express with words how much I loved this particular version. I must say that I don't understand how Toby Stephens could ever play someone who's supposed to be ugly, maybe I don't see so well, but that guy is hunky. That being said, I can't really imagine anyone else playing Edward Rochester in such a way. He was everything. Funny, witty, moody, and romantic. In the 1996 version Edward Rochester scarcely had any personality at all. Toby made me fall with the character. Nobody else can ever do what he did. I loved Ruth as Jane, too. Both Ruth and Toby seem to be able to play Edward and Jane without even speaking. I mean, this could have been a silent film and still worked. I thought that Cosima made a perfect Adele, she was so cute. This has to be the most complete and romantic version ever. Ruth and Toby steamed up my television set.

5 years have passed since I wrote my review, and I can hardly believe it. I have read the book many times now in the past 5 years, and I still believe that my original review holds true. It may not be an exact replica of the book, but both are quite pleasing.
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Where's the story gone?
blodi_fab20 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw the cast list for Jane Eyre I was really happy and I must admit Jane is brilliant and Rochester is great too! But what have they done to the story?????? Why why why do they feel they have to add weird non-sensicle things that are NOTHING to do with Jane eyre and then cut the important bits down to a few minutes of rushed speech?? The scene where they finally tell each other they love each other is squeezed into about 2 Mins! They could've cut the added bits, still stuck to the story and actually let the viewer have a minute to see what was going on, not throw them into the next scene like a world-wind. I don't want to sound like I'm saying the acting is bad, because its great but give the poor things a chance to get their teeth into a scene! They have completely cut the bit where Jane and Rochester talk after the wedding! That was one of the most powerful parts in the book! I spent my evening screaming at the t.v not crying at the sadness of the story! Sorry, but this is my fave book and I can't ever understand why people think they should change it! There is a very good reason why it has been a fave for so many years! Maybe pay more attention to the actual book not the way you would like to adapt it to your own version!!!!
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Jane Eyre
donnapandabear5 October 2006
I settled down to watch Jane Eyre with trepidation as all the other adaptations I have watched disappointed me in some way. By the end of the first episode I was thrilled with this remarkable new version of one of my favourite books. Ruth Wilson is a charming Jane - very believable and totally in character and Toby Stephen's Rochester is marvellous. All the supporting cast are just right for their roles and the photography is superb and the soundtrack very haunting. I think the setting of Thornfield Hall is brought to life magnificently. I was particularly pleased with the way the major events from the book are shown to us with only little variations from the chapters. That is always a major problem for me with any drama taken from a novel that the writers edit out too much or put their own things in for no reason but Sandy Welch has the knack of telling the story as it should be told. Looking forward to the next episodes.
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Brilliant adaptation...
PhilipChandler1 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers

Absolutely brilliant.

I first saw this adaptation in November 2008, whilst channel-surfing during a free afternoon. I saw this movie again today (New Year's Day, 2009) on "The History Channel," and I was glad to settle down for all four hours of this wonderful adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic.

From the opening scenes, with the horrible Mrs. Reed and the cruelty of Lowood, this movie captivated and moved me. Toby Stephens (Rochester) introduced a degree of cynicism mixed with world-weariness that was all too believable. Ruth Wilson (Jane) played her role to perfection -- without being a "classic" beauty, she made a profound impression, with her simple gaze and her quiet demeanour and assuredness.

The setting was perfect. The North Tower of Thornfield Castle introduced a brooding, malevolent presence to the plot that resonated throughout the movie. This adaptation succeeded because of the careful attention to detail paid by the editors -- the portrait of the mad people hanging in the hallway, the somber demeanour of Grace Pool, the ominous presence of Pilot at Jane's door, and the cackling laughter that echoed throughout the mansion, all added to the depth and intensity of this story.

Wilson captured the essence of Bronte's character perfectly. Her face expressed emotions with a degree of clarity that could be matched only by paragraph after paragraph of prose. "That look," brooded Stephens. That look, indeed! I have seen many adaptations of this novel. The length of this adaptation made it possible for the movie to track the book with an astonishing degree of accuracy and fidelity. This length enabled the movie to develop the central characters wonderfully, capturing the personalities of both the major and the minor characters perfectly.

The ending was perfect. All of the servants were present (in marked contrast to other versions, in which Grace Pool was killed off), and the portrait at the end of the movie bracketed the beginning with symmetry and closure.

This is a must-see for any serious student of this classic, as well as for the average viewer who merely wishes to be entertained.

Congratulations to all involved in the production of this masterpiece! PHILIP CHANDLER
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One of my favourite drama adaptations of a classic
michawheeler23 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film with my mum, we are both fans of the books and we both love this adaptation. The only problem my mum and some other viewers have with this version of Jane Eyre is that the two main characters are too sensual. Some viewers have gone as far to say that the attraction between Jane and Rochester in the book is a spiritual one and arises from affinity of character.

This is all true but if you think that that is all, you have not read the book properly. The book is so charged with sexual tension that it was deemed inappropriate by many people at the time it was first published. Personally I found the complete lack of sexual attraction in other films such as Zeffirelli's version very disappointing. The scene in Jane's bedroom after the almost wedding doesn't happen in the book but it was edited beautifully and really brings out the longing and loneliness in Jane it is completely in tone with the book.

Other than that what can I say? The acting was brilliant, the locations beautiful, lighting, music, editing; all were top class in my opinion. The pacing is comfortable with all the major scenes included - a great adaptation, if you liked other classical adaptations you will probably enjoy this one!
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ridiculonius24 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Jane Eyre is probably one of my all-time favourite books, and, I'm glad to say, the 2006 film has become one of my all-time favourite movies. The actors have an amazing chemistry, and some scenes were just too electrifyingly romantic to belong in a Victorian period piece. The acting was great, the script was great--pure brilliance!

Based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte, the film focuses on (duh) Jane Eyre, an orphan living with her cruel aunt and abusive cousins. After being sent away to an all-girl boarding school, Jane develops into a little and learned woman. Eventually, she adopts the career of governess at a place called Thornfield, working for the estate's reclusive master, one Edward Rochester, and his charge, a little French girl called Adele. Jane and Rochester develop a close friendship that soon turns to something more; but Rochester holds a dark secret, one that could prevent them from ever being happy...

The character of Jane is so sympathetic; she is humble and kind and yet very capable of holding her own. Rochester is also very interesting, in that he appears gruff and indifferent but has a strangely charming disposition. Actually, he reminds me a little of Gregory House (House MD).

Overall, it's a wonderful movie based on a wonderful book; it will appeal to fans of Bronte and fans of Victorian romance alike.

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Where is Jane? Adaptation saved only by Toby Stephens
hkmp1 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Although it was beautifully filmed, this is one of the worst adaptations of Jane Eyre. It is untrue to the book and the character of Jane. Where is Jane in all this genteel loveliness? She is portrayed as a lifeless mouse who has barely anything to say other than "Yes, sir" or "No, sir." Where is the headstrong Jane who speaks her mind? Jane was not a sappy little girl pining for romance. In fact, she openly rebuffed most of Rochester's kindnesses toward her with her brusque common sense. It was only when alone with her own thoughts that she dared allow herself the sweet dreams of budding love - but not in this adaptation. Here we see Jane openly longing for love and practically throwing herself at Rochester. Charlotte would not have dreamed of behaving in such a fashion and never would have written her heroine that way! From this adaptation one would surmise that Rochester loved Jane solely because she was "soft and yielding" and lacking a personality, not because they were fiery kindred spirits, which is what the book declares them to be. In the book, Rochester recognizes Jane for who she is. He knows her to be his equal, his match, and that is the one thing they both long for so desperately. It was worth more to him than beauty or fortune. You don't get that in this adaptation. You get a rich guy who's sick of phony women chasing him so he goes after the "quiet, plain girl" to ease his pain. The book is much, much sexier.

I had not read over the cast list before watching this adaptation and I confess that I was disappointed when Toby Stephens showed up as Rochester. I like him as an actor, but he generally plays weak men and I guess I had stereotyped him as such. Thankfully, he quickly disabused me of such feelings. He is a magnificent Rochester. His astounding performance was the only thing that kept me watching, and I dare say it is the thing that has tricked most reviewers into claiming this adaptation is a good one. If you love the book, you will not love this adaptation but you will love Toby's performance. He is the Rochester to end all Rochesters and I highly recommend watching this solely for him.

ADDITIONAL WHINES (not necessary to read, really) Ruined scenes: (1) The scene with the gypsy. Why on earth did they not perform this as it was written? It is one of the most brilliant and enjoyable parts of the book! How difficult would it have been to do it properly?

(2) The rich people hold a séance (not in the book, of course). This is so unbelievably lame, I can't even discuss it.

(3) The scene on the stairs in which Rochester tells Jane she is depressed. He has a beautiful speech in the book - one that is not trite and stupid - and they replaced it with a trite and stupid scene. "You are crying." *tears roll down Jane's face* "No, I'm not crying." That's good writing? Okay then. Compare to chapter 17 of the book. Now imagine Toby Stephens performing it. We have been cheated.

A final whine not solely directed at this adaptation: Why do they always choose attractive people to play Jane and Rochester when Charlotte clearly states that Jane is plain and Rochester is downright ugly? Just curious!

EDIT: I am truly stunned by the number of reviewers who claim that this adaptation is faithful to the book. I assure you, reader, it is not!
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A stunning version with stunning performances
RuthieF7 February 2007
I first read Jane Eyre when I was 9 years old - a very tatty edition that belonged to my Grandmother - and from that moment on I was hooked. I've read it several times since then and Rochester was my first literary hero : I fell in love with him then and continue to do so with each reading/viewing.

Like thousands of others, I fell completely under the spell of this version - and was bewitched by the performances from the two leads. In particular the portrayal of Rochester from the gorgeous Toby Stephens. He brought Rochester to life. Only a heart of stone could fail to have been moved by his performance. This was a classic portrayal and one which will not be forgotten.

The definitive Rochester? Absolutely The definitive Jane Eyre? For sure Watch it and weep - unless you really do have a heart of stone.
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beautiful looking, wretched screenplay.
jinx_malone14 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is by far the worst adaptation of Jane Eyre I've ever seen, and I've seen them all, up to the most recent 2011 film adaptation with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. This version still maintains the title of 'worst adaptation ever.'

It is a visually stunning film. I think the cinematographer did a marvelous job. The score is beautiful and I wish it were available somewhere. Thankfully I've got a cobbled together twenty minute version of it that will do until some of the music is released somewhere.

The locations and the costuming are all letter-perfect, with everyone looking as though they've stepped directly from the pages of the book. Ruth Wilson's Jane is quite possibly my favorite Jane ever--they've made her look uncannily like a famous portrait of Charlotte, which is pleasing to a Bronte fan like myself. She has an almost froggy, unformed look to her that is perfect. And that's where the appreciation stops.

The script is terrible. There are great chunks of Jane and Rochester's dialog to one another that have been rewritten by someone with a tin ear. It's crude, dumbed down, and embarrassing.

The only explanation I have regarding thepopularity of this version is Toby Stephens' appearance, because all the people saying 'this is the definitive version' clearly never read the book that I did. If today's audiences can't bear to hear Charlotte's 'archaic' dialog, then we're headed for dire, sad times indeed, because after all these years the book is still beautiful, still filled with a wonderful, poetic sensibility which carries over into the dialog of the characters, but don't expect to hear any of that in this film, as it's missing. Instead, we are 'treated' to Mr. Eshton's theories about twins and Ouija boards. Let me ask--would you rather hear Mr. Eshton rambling on about anything, or get one of the many missing scenes that take place between Jane and Rochester?

If only we'd gotten the '83 screenplay with this cast and crew--then I could have called this the definitive version. As it stands, this is a gorgeous-looking failure. I would have given this zero stars if I could for disrespecting Charlotte's work so terribly.

Jane would never, ever have rolled around in bed with Rochester, with his wife just above them in the attic. Never. Anyone who can sit with a straight face and argue that Jane would have done or that Charlotte would have written Jane this way, were she allowed to do so, doesn't understand a thing about the Brontes, Charlotte, or the character of Jane.

That one scene makes a fatal error as regards Jane, puts the final nail in the coffin of this dreck, and proves that again, all modern audiences are looking for is sexed up, trite crap. By all means, if bad fanfic doesn't give you enough of Jane and Rochester in bed together, then watch this, you'll love it.
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jasherjasher30 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen the 1940's Jane Eyre with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, and own the 1983 version (Timothy Dalton, Zelah Clarke) as well as the 1997 version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton, and all I can say for this adaptation in comparison is.... ehhhh.

I wish I liked it more. I really, really wanted to. I have been a fan of Toby Stephens since Napoleon (his young Tsar Alexander is amazingly powerful) and like Jane Eyre anyway, but just couldn't bring myself to really like this adaptation. Beyond the great production values and cinematography, I kept hearing myself thinking, "What???" and wondering how lost I'd be if I hadn't read the book already.

For instance -- No childhood at the beginning (later we get a 30 second flashback of "Not the red room!" when as an adult Jane returns to Mrs. Reed's bedside, which didn't do much for me).

No intensity to Lowood scenes, or conveyance of their importance in shaping Jane's character. Toward the end of the film when Jane accepts St. John River's offer of a teaching job, she does so on condition of "no beatings", which would have been incredibly puzzling to me if I weren't already familiar with the book and seemed served up more as an afterthought than anything else.

The exaggeration of Blanche's mother into a fully speaking role but without any real reason: once she mentioned her dislike of governesses the first time, there was little to no point in her being there or saying anything. A waste of Francesca Annis, honestly.

No real explanation of how Jane got from Thornfield to Moor House (she lies down on her bed in her room at Thornfield and wakes up disheveled and worse for wear on the moors, at which point she is scooped up by St. John Rivers); it is handled inadequately via brief flashback.

I can't comment on the ouija board scene because I fast forwarded through it. 'Nuff said.

The gypsy scene? Timothy Dalton did that one best, hands down. Toby could have handled playing a gypsy; I am sorry they did not give him opportunity.

The scene where St. John tells Jane they are cousins and explains their relationship, etc: the whole thing was handled almost as an afterthought, almost as though she'd won the lotto but it wasn't really important. Because they did not build up her childhood, either at Gateshead or Lowood, much of what happens later falls flat. Again, if I had not already read the book....

On the casting: I really like Toby Stephens and think him a fine actor. But he was just too gentle and too good looking for this role, I think. Timothy Dalton was also too good looking for the role, but was enough of a bastard that he got it right, as was Orson Welles. Ciaran Hinds was a great Rochester all around. But this Rochester... too much whupped and not enough angry, IMO. The scene where he drags the wedding party back to the house to "meet the wife" was quiet, calm even. So, so wrong.

Also, a small point, but this St. John Rivers was far too likable. He just didn't read cold to me, but warm trying to play cold. His interactions with Jane completely lacked tension; he didn't appear to be upset that she didn't accept his proposal, and she didn't appear too upset that he'd asked without love. It all had an, "Oh, okay, whatever you want..." feel to it. Again, so, so wrong.

This Jane, Ruth Wilson, was not bad... but not the best. As another letter writer noted, she lacked Zelah Clarke's little smile and inner spark, and her face was simply strange to me. (I didn't like Samantha Morton's Jane either, for much the same reasons.) But I will give her this. Of all the times I have heard the lines:

"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -- I have as much soul as you, -- and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!"

no other actress has brought me to tears with it as this one did. That was one awesome bit of acting!

So, four out of ten. It was watchable, it was interesting, but I won't save the tape or buy the DVD. Great production values, visually interesting and attractive, but not true to the story (much less the book) and somewhat miscast.
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A pretty plot doth not a Jane Eyre make.
prufrockja22 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I will not be watching the second half of Jane Eyre. It has gorgeous production values. It has a striking Bleak Housean filming style that is a joy to watch. It is following the plot line fairly faithfully, considering that must be pared down to four hours. Its crime is a lack of Bronte soul -- it is the skeleton of the Jane Eyre story draped in the threadbare rags of any modern chick flick of the week.

Don't get me wrong. It's not horrible. I give it four stars not because it's worse than most of the inane stuff on TV and in theaters. It's quite a good movie so far, by those standards. I give it four stars because it claims to be Jane Eyre, and then abandons the essence of Jane Eyre on the cutting board. It would be more aptly titled, "A lovely and well turned out little period romance featuring characters and situations similar to those in Jane Eyre."

Mr. Rochester is slight and weak and not even remotely "vulcanlike." He doesn't storm -- he barely drizzles. He certainly fits the "ugly" bill better than does my preferred Rochester (Timothy Dalton). But Dalton got everything else right where Toby Stephens got it wrong -- the glowering, the ferocious lunging at his demons. A Bronte film must have its powerful, brooding, haunted, selfish male lead or it's just another assembly line girl power movie. Modern sensibilities be d***ed -- I don't want no kinder, gentler Rochesters.

Jane is played by a pouty beauty with severe eyebrows whose only claim on the requisite plainness is an austere hairdo. She delivers her saucy lines with a fair amount of spunk, but the between-spunk stretches are painfully bland. This Jane doesn't THINK spunky -- she only talks spunky. I much preferred the angle Zelah Clarke took on the role -- that bemused little smile she employed while she bided her time and sharpened her tongue. This new Jane is better than her Rochester, but she couldn't have succeeded even if she'd completely understood the inner workings of her character -- she's simply wrong for the part.

The worst offense is the language. The plot of Jane Eyre was no doubt remarkable 150 years ago when it was first published in a world in which women were still thoroughly dominated by men. However, the book remains powerful not because of the plot, which has been reworked in a thousand subsequent romance stories and which is not so relevant in our post-women's-lib world. Rather, it's still powerful because of the fire of the language -- the delightful verbal sparring between the two leads and the beautiful expressions of embattled love. And this production makes almost no use of the original language. I was so disappointed.

It's like Shakespeare adaptations. I have no problem with a movie like Baz Luhrman's Romeo+Juliet. It's actually pretty neat -- visually stunning, with intriguing interplay between the original plot and modern themes (except that the inner city gang wars thing had already been done in West Side Story, of course!) Shakespeare is not in his plot lines -- in fact, he stole every last one of his plots from earlier writers. And he's not in the costuming or the sets. Shakespeare is in the language, and if you take that away, you need to call it something besides Shakespeare. That's why Romeo+Juliet can be called Shakespeare (very loud Shakespeare), even though it has a radical veneer.

And that's why this Jane Eyre is not Jane Eyre -- because of the insipid dialogue slapped onto almost every scene. Perhaps long stretches of Victorian speech are more than most modern viewers can endure -- fair enough. And much editing is necessary to fit the story in the allotted time slot. But there were plenty of important scenes in which more of the original language could have been used, sparing us the bland nonsense whipped up by screenwriters who seem to give our intelligence little credit. I will not be tuning in again. I have no desire to see what they will do to with the first proposal scene, the heartrending departure scene, or the exquisitely subdued second proposal. While I suppose it's possible they will redeem themselves in the second half, I'm not holding my breath -- it would be very difficult to build a fire with the soggy kindling the first two hours left behind.

Another thing that bears mentioning for those who are not familiar with the book: there are a couple of painful time lapses in the story of Jane Eyre that are crucial for making Jane's experiences at Thornfield explosive -- her difficult childhood and the months she stays with her cousins. Not many people care to endure a longer movie in order to experience that payoff, and given its time restraints this film has generally focused on what it should have. But as long as you're breaking out of the feature film format and going miniseries, I tend to think you should give Jane's childhood its full due. Similarly, I suspect that if there's only two hours left to the series, her time at Moorhouse is going to be severely abbreviated and consequently there won't be nearly enough distance and emotional buildup between the departure and the reunion. These are problems with all shorter Jane Eyres -- not this one in particular.

And finally, what's with the ouija board scene? What is that supposed to do besides tell us something about Blanche Ingram that we already know? And why, o why, did they fool around with the fortune teller scene?? Do they think we are offended by cross dressing? Does Toby Stephens have a "no skirts" clause in his contracts? They paid for an extra actor and in the process deflated a scene that ordinarily provides a delightful (and tension-building) exchange between Jane and Rochester. Since when do ANY Bronte lovers require a chaperone? Yeesh.
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best ever
mike-173021 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is without doubt the finest screen adaptation of this remarkable book. Ruth Wilson is the perfect Jane, honest, loving,loyal; not devastatingly attractive, but pretty enough. Her vulnerability when exposed to her first feelings of attachment to Rochester is beautifully observed;her determination to stand up for what she believes to be right,even in the confines of the dreadful Lowood, engages our sympathy and admiration. Stephens is simply the best Rochester ever, a man of many faces, haunted by a disastrous marriage, torn between what he sees as his duty, and his desire for love, and freedom from the chains which bind his soul. The relationship between them builds at just the right pace, so that when Jane breaks down and Rochester makes his disastrous proposal, the tension is almost unbearable. Jane's return is the best part of the series, It brought tears to my eyes, watch it and marvel. Great supporting cast.
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Jane Eyre dumbed down
lmfuhrm-129 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Superb Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, excellent cinematography, musical score, locations but poor screenplay. This production had none of the mesmerizing dialog of the book. I cringed when Rochester asked Jane "Why are you crying?" Imagine Toby speaking in his dulcet tones the words from the book... "But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes--indeed there they are now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on the flag.." (how beautiful), the altered gypsy scene compared to the Dalton/Clarke 1983 version is a terrible disappointment. Why did they change it? Why fiddle with perfection? Eshton's theories (nowhere in the book), the final marriage proposal I am paraphrasing because I don't remember it exactly. Rochester: Ah Jane but I want a wife. Jane: choose then sir her who loves you best. Rochester: I will at least choose her I love best. Why didn't BBC use this? I could go on and on. An excellent movie for the moviegoer who has not read the book but poor for the reader. I only wish BBC would have adapted the 1973 Jayston/Cusack or the 1983 Dalton/Clarke scripts with the excellent production used in this movie. It could have been perfect. A missed opportunity. I give it a 10 for production but subtract 2 for the script.
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excellent adaptation
x2trouble200011 February 2007
This is an adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte book. An adaptation that i think makes this classic story more approachable for young people. Being only 23 i am aware many people of high school age read these types of stories because they have to without a real understanding or interest in them. Dramas like these can make them more interesting and help the reader/watcher get more emotion from the story. While there are parts that weren't emphasised enough this adaptation concentrates on Rochester (toby Stephens) and eyre ( Ruth Wilson) relationship and in my OPINION does this very well with a little spice that maybe didn't come across in the book.

Toby Stephens is a experienced actor with a background in these types of dramas,who does this role justice and who will appeal to many women. cause lets be fair it is always good to watch people who you consider to be good looking and it certainly wont have hurt the ratings.

Ruth Wilson is a new face with a bright future who plays the different emotions excellently.

well done BBC
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Great acting, but these aren't Bronte's characters!
cms-1823 January 2007
There have been very few faithful adaptations to Charlotte Bronte's classic story. The best was done by the BBC in 1983. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085037/). The dialog that has been placed in these excellent actors' mouths is not the Jane and Rochester readers know from the book. Jane would not have been that assertive, nor Rochester that direct. Rochester involving a third person to play gypsy to Blanche, Jane and the others? And the 1820s tarot board? Rochester would never have publicly embarrassed Blanche by taking any part in calling her heartless? (In the book, they play charades where Blanche and Rochester are bride and groom in a wedding, all designed to show the world their union was solid). And Blanche Ingram referring to Jane as "Miss Eyre"? In the book, Blanche says, "What can the creeping creature want now?" To Rochester, Blanche says, "Does that person want you?" Blanche would not have used the same form of address for a servant that she used for her friends. (Why would Blanche ever have bothered to learn the creeping creature's name?) These serious character departures from the first two hours do not bode well for the remainder of this production.

If you like the story (and who wouldn't), do yourself a favor and read the book and/or get the Timothy Dalton/Zelah Clarke 1983 version (available on DVD and VHS).
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Really brings the spirit of the book to breath-taking life.
bristol-girl19 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think I must have seen all the screen incarnations of my favorite book now - and this one is as good as it gets. I never believed the 1983 version with Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke could be beaten, but it will now have to share the spotlight with the BBC's latest gem.

Toby Stephens, one of the most gifted actors of his generation, turns in another flawless performance here - he makes you love him, pity him and then he breaks your heart with the vulnerability he endows his character with. The book tells the reader that Rochester 'became dangerous when he lost her (Jane) and that the servants of Thornfield Hall had 'never seen a man so much in love as he'...and in this version you believe that utterly.

Ruth Wilson is an enchanting Jane. Seeming at once very young and innocent and yet also wise beyond her years. Her on-screen chemistry with Toby Stephens is electric, making her departure from Rochester all the more heartbreaking. Although the screenplay definitely modernizes the language of the book, and takes some small liberties with minor characters and plot, the true nature of the main characters and the story of their love, has a never been brought more vividly to life.
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Disappointed and A Bit Mystified
lrathome6 January 2008
I did watch this one based on Masterpiece Theatre's reputation and the fawning reviews written here. But "the best adaptation" and "history in the making" etc. etc.?? I'm sorry but this is not a true adaptation and plays a bit too fast and loose for me. If one seeks to adapt a classic and changes the details that made it a classic, one is doomed to mediocrity at best and failure at worse. This falls into the former category. This simply will be seen as an also ran, especially when compared to the Zeffirelli version of 1996. Performances were fine but screenplay is off. Read the book and compare and contrast-- I'll bet this miniseries won't be the victor. P.S. favorably comparing this version of Jane Eyre to the 1996 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is BLASPHEMY! That was and is one the single Best versions of classic literature transcribed to screen.
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