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Worst adaptation ever! The only part they took from the book were the names of the characters!
Forget the fact that it is greatly condensed (that was the least of the issues with this movie): Throughout this movie Jane is described as beautiful (they : even made Blanche Ingram jealous of her from the first) & Mr Rochester did not fit the description at all in the book of being moody as well as not handsome.
I guess everyone is better off that this being a short movie, because it was just awful would have been unbearable to sit through had it were any longer.
(I was VERY reluctant to list it as a classic in my tags, & only did so because the story is a classic, although this movie is anything but!)
An oddity and an artifact
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The company that releases this DVD claims it's the first version of Jane Eyre on film. This makes it especially interesting...but Jane Eyre fans may be disappointed at how far the film strays from the novel.A short film, it doesn't do a bad job of condensing, it simply takes 1930s sensibilities and forces them onto the story. The Jane in this film is not only pretty (and mentioned by many characters as being "beautiful"), but she is rather silly, and sometimes mean...Things that the Jane of the novel never was. Rochester is far from being sardonic and tortured; he's actually...well...awfully sweet.(PLOT SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH!) In addition, several important plot points have been changed, probably due to censors of the time. For example, Adele is not the child of Rochester's mistress; she's his legitimate niece. And Rochester doesn't try to marry Jane even though he's already married; he is seeking (and receives) an annulment before the ceremony. Many favorite characters are also missing, including Helen.Nonetheless, this film is an interesting piece of history. It was directed by a woman (something Charlotte Bronte would approve of), and has the sensibilities of it's time. The quality of the film is very much in keeping with it's era, and it's condition is quite good considering it's age."
Worst version I've seen!
rkp1 | Albany, NY USA | 09/15/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love old films and the story of Jane Eyre, so I bought this DVD thinking I couldn't miss. Wrong! This is a horrible adaptation, not at all true to the book. The characters are completely changed: Jane is described as "the pretty governess," and engages in perky verbal sparring with a dashingly handsome and charming Rochester. In both the book and all other film adaptations I've seen, Jane is rather plain and humble, and Rochester is moody and NOT supposed to be handsome. Aside from the terrible adaptation from book to script, and the bad acting, the movie print itself used to master the DVD was in poor shape, and NOT restored. The resulting DVD is of annoyingly poor quality. This particular movie version is just plain bad, both story and technical quality. Try the versions with George C. Scott or William Hurt instead; they're very good. The Ciaran Hinds version is passable, though in his version Rochester comes off as just plain mean."
A Film Time Capsule thankfully preserved on DVD.
J. Kara Russell | Hollywood - the cinderblock Industrial cubicle | 07/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This version of JANE EYRE is enjoyable for film history buffs. So, thank goodness it has not been lost, and is available on DVD.
This is a very early talkie, from one of the smaller movie companies, and all the growing pains show. (Garbo's ANNA CHRISTIE was made the year before this, and while still stagey, it shows what a larger, more successful film company could do, compared to this smaller one. Garbo's film was a film, this feels more like a record of a stage performance.) The script is rather "favorite scenes from JANE EYRE." It takes major plot points and turns them into a brighter story all together, mixing and matching elements at will
Virginia Bruce is tall, platinum, strikingly beautiful with a lovely contralto voice, voluptuous figure and mesmerizing sad eyes (that inspired Italian doll maker Lenci, in many of his boudoir dolls of this period). All of this, of course makes her wrong to play Jane, in one of the most total miscasting moments of film history. Worse yet, she slumps and slinks around like a 1930s starlet, more Jean Harlow than Jane Eyre. To see her languidly lounging against a pillar or a piano, combined with some of the abrupt dialogue lines that contradict the original story, brings lots of laughs to a Bronte fan. This version also added characters and played loose with details in ways that also made me laugh.
Colin Clive as Rochester is handsome, refined, and gentlemanly. He treats her like an Etonian suitor. Virginia Bruce rather brusquely runs the scenes with him, and often seems very bored with him, practically rolling her eyes. So, of course, all of this is wrong for the story. Now, I must say, they are both very good actors, and inhabit their roles, and for this period, they are both very fine (compare them with the supporting cast, especially the hysterically bad Adele - a child actor coached to the ends of every finger and curl in the most obvious stage mannerisms of the day), but the limitations of the medium of that day and their miscasting does them no favors.
The casting of his fiancée is very odd indeed, and shows how the beauty of WOMEN was valued at that time, over girls. She looks a good ten years older than Rochester, and quite the dark-haired demimonde vamp. Watching many versions of JANE ERYE, I find that the casting of this role and Adele tell us a tremendous amount about the tastes of the times.
The sets are bright and light, but we must understand, that some of this dynamic was needed for the cameras that were being used at the day, the makeup is very dramatic, but again, the makeup then needed for a face to "read" on camera was not even natural skin tones. So for these things, this version is a fascinating film study of a particular moment when films were transitioning. Miss Bruce's costumes are lovely - more Cinderella than plain Jane - and are also a notable moment of history, when this high waised, fully flounced skirt was "in style" for period films. This type of dress, too, was copied by doll maker Lenci. You will notice that all the lines are spoken very slowly and distinctly, and many will dismiss it as bad acting, but this too, had to do with early sound recording, it was necessary for the way film was made.
Since I AM interested in film history, this has made me anxious to see more of Virginia Bruce. I want to see if her particular presence was used in more contemporary pieces, where her looks and personal style would have made her shine. This is a time capsule. "
A period piece of a period piece
Ann Bronwen | 09/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly one of the strangest adaptions of Charlotte Bronte's classic. It was probably made as a second feature, since it is only an hour long, and reflects what would appeal to a 1930's audience. The part of Adele, Rochester's ward, is greatly enhanced, while other important characters, (Helen, Jane's classmate at Lowood School and the Rivers family, are left out entirely). Colin Clive, (Henry Frankenstein of the movie, "Frankenstein") is miscast as a romantic and very, very nice Mr. Rochester. And one of the most melodramatic scenes in literature, ( the revelation during the wedding of Jane and Rochester that Rochester is already married to a mad woman confined to an attic) is omitted, probably because of a 1930's version of family values. For Jane Eyre buffs, this movie is an interesting period piece, but the Timothy Dalton/Zelah Clarke version of this is better."
Interesting as Historical Curio
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 01/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1934 version is produced by Monogram Pictures, one of the studios in so-called `Poverty Row,' slang used in Hollywood to refer to the smaller film companies specializing in low-budget action adventure films. Some of these studies made a low-budget version of classic literature and such titles as `Oliver Twist' or `The Moonstone' were produced by Monogram (both available on Alpha Video DVD). These films run only about 60 minutes and you just cannot find the same artistic value as MGM's `David Copperfield' or `A Tale of Two Cities.'
So you cannot and should not expect much here. The film runs only 62 minutes and how can you tell the story of a Victorian classic novel within 62 minutes? But the film does try and like the same company's `The Moonstone' (in which characters use electricity), some drastic changes are done to the plot and settings of Charlotte Bronte novel. The film's story often goes so fast, skipping some of the key elements of the book's first half. Jane's horrible experience at the boarding school is reduced to less than ten minutes, and what she experiences there is not so terrible.
The film spends more time on Jane's romance with Edward Rochester and the mysteries surrounding the mansion, but results are far from satisfactory. Two main leads Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive certainly make an attractive couple, but not in the way Charlotte Bronte had envisioned. Colin Clive, who is best remembered as Doctor Frankenstein yelling `It's alive!' shows more restrained acting as intelligent gentleman, but his handsome and mild-mannered Rochester does not have the tragic shadow that every reader of the book would remember. Equally ineffective is the subplot about the mansion's attic, which lacks suspense or surprise.
After all this `Jane Eyre' would be interesting only as a curio or a historical proof showing the difficulty of film adaptation of classic literature."