Natalie M. (SEASONSMOM) from WHITE HALL, AR Reviewed on 7/27/2011...
I watched this BBC version growing up in Eastern Europe and fell in Love with Bronte's books ever since. When I came to the US I watched in in the original (it was dubbed in my country of birth). And oh, was it awesome to hear it in English. I've watched other versions and none come close to the time period Charlotte was writing in nor the characters. It is the safest to watch with the kiddos and a CLASSIC. I was very disappointed in the Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre, 2006) (2007) NR version with Actors: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens, Amy Steel. While the cast was good (Jane was too pretty for the character in my opinion) it had second brief sexual intercourse scene blurred in the background that my children noticed :(. It was really really short but it was there. With this version you don't have to worry about anything. It is closest to the book and the cast is awesome. Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton did an awesome job bringing this classic to life. It's a keeper!!!!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
C. M P. (selkie) Reviewed on 3/22/2009...
I have always preferred the old black-and-white version starring Orson Welles & Joan Fontaine even though it was greatly condensed. But watching this, I finally found its equal.
I had not thought that Timothy Dalton could be able to play the part of Rochester convincingly, but he did. Zelah Clarke played a superb Jane Eyre, & it is a pity she did not do more acting. But I guess there are really not too many roles for such a petite woman. (One cannot help wondering throughout the movie exactly how tall she might be).
The movie follows the book pretty closely. The only drawback to the film is that since it was a made-for-television movie, it is divided up into each episode rather than running smoothly without interruption.
Yes, it is long. But as it is such a good adaptation it is well worth watching. Perfect for sitting in & watching during a rainy weekend.
7 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
Aimee M. (AimeeM) Reviewed on 1/5/2009...
The only problem I had with this version (and I know this sounds rediculous, but...) Jane Eyre's eyes are too close together, and Mr. Rochester is WAY too emotional. Sorry.
Other than that, this version follows the book very closely. So it is good in that respect. Although it does run a bit on the long side...
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lovely -- THE definitive Jane Eyre! DVD NOW, PLEASE!!!
Rosie Cotton | The Shire | 05/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A few months ago I watched both this 4-hour BBC production and the more recent A&E version starring Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton in one sitting ... an Eyre-athon! And in my opinion, this version EASILY won hands-down as the best (I've already seen just about every other filmed version). I've since watched it many times and never tire of it. If you love the novel, what a glorious, breathtaking treat this is!!
Yes, this production is long (good news for Bronte fans!) and it has a somewhat dated feel, but both the casting and acting are so brilliant that you won't want to watch any other version!
Timothy Dalton IS Edward Rochester... it's that simple. I don't care that other reviewers claim he's too handsome. Dalton is attractive, certainly, but no pretty-boy. In fact he possesses a craggy, angular dark charm that, to my mind, is quite in keeping with the mysterious, very masculine Mr R. And he takes on Rochester's sad, tortured persona so poignantly. He portrays ferocity when the scene calls for it, but also displays Rochester's tender, passionate, emotional side as well. (IMO the A&E production suffers in that Ciaran Hinds - whom I normally adore - seems to bluster and bully his way throughout. I've read the book many times and I never felt that Rochester was meant to be perceived as a nonstop snarling beast!)
Whenever I reread the novel, I always see Zelah Clarke as Jane. Ms. Clarke, to me, resembles Jane as she describes herself (and is described by others). Small, childlike, fairy... though it's true the actress doesn't look 18, she portrays Jane's attributes so well. While other reviews have claimed that her acting is wooden or unemotional, one must remember that the character spent 8 years at Lowood being trained to hold her emotions and "passionate nature" in check. Her main inspiration was her childhood friend Helen, who was the picture of demure submission. Although her true nature was dissimilar, Jane learned to master her temper and appear docile, in keeping with the school's aims for its charity students who would go into 'service'. Jane became a governess in the household of the rich Mr. Rochester. She would certainly *not* speak to him as an equal (as Samantha Morton does in the A&E version). Even later on when she gave as well as she got, she would always be sure to remember that her station was well below that of her employer. Nevertheless, if you read the book - to which this production stays amazingly close - you can clearly see the small struggles Zelah-as-Jane endures as she subdues her emotions in order to remain mild and even-tempered.
The chemistry between Dalton and Clarke is just right, I think. No, it does not in the least resemble Hollywood (thank God! It's not a Hollywood sort of book) but theirs is a romance which is true, devoted and loyal. And for a woman like Jane, who never presumed to have *any* love come her way, it is a minor miracle.
The rest of the casting is terrific, and I love the fact that nearly every character from the book is present here. So, too, is much of the rich, evocative dialogue. This version is the only one that I know of to include the lovely, infamous 'gypsy scene' and in general, features more humor than other versions I've seen. In particular, the mutual teasing between the lead characters comes straight from the book and is so delightful!
Jane Eyre was, in many ways, one of the first novelized feminists. She finally accepted love on her own terms and independently, and, at last, as Rochester's true equal. Just beautiful!
Now, WHEN WILL THIS BE RELEASED ON DVD?
EDIT: This has just been mastered and released on DVD in its original unedited format, which means a whole extra hour of footage... it's now 5 hours instead of 4, woot woot! You KNOW I'm happy! Buy it NOW!!"
The BEST version of Jane Eyre ever put to film!
baltimore0502 | BALTIMORE, MD USA | 07/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jane Eyre is without question my all time favourite book. I first read it in high school and I vivdly recall the hairs standing up on the back of my neck the first time Jane heard "Grace Pool"'s insane laughter in the night! This is the most faithful film version I've yet to see. OK, Timothy Dalton is too handsome to play Rochester, but he has the character nailed to a tee - passionate, tortured, sardonic with just the right level of bitterness at the way "fortune has knocked me about". And Zelah Clark is the best Jane I've come across. Quiet, understated, but she's no shrinking violet and does not hesitate to stand up to the brooding, unpredictable and intimidating Edward Fairfax Rochester. And the wonderful dialog comes almost directly from the book. I think the reason this is the best is because it was a mini-series and could accommodate the entire story (for the same reason the Firth/Ehle version of Pride & Prejudice is the best version of that story). A two hour movie cannot do either story justice.I absolutely abhored the Zefferelli version - who in their right mind would cast William Hurt as Rochester???? And Charlotte Gainsbourg's Jane was a bit pouty and petulant. Plus, some scenes were combined or compressed to fit the time requirements distorting the story. For many of the same reasons, I didn't care for the A&E version, though Samantha Morton was a pretty good Jane. But the usually wonderful Ciaran Hinds (see him in Austen's Persuasion) portayed Edward as so overly bitter (bordering on pathetic) that I couldn't see why anyone would fall in love with him. I don't think that I've ever seen the George C Scott/Trish Van Devere version. And it's been eons since I've seen the Joan Fontaine/Orson Wells version, but if memory serves, the casting was good, but again, the story was compressed for time and the dialog was subpar. There are just some lines of dialog that simply MUST be included for me to enjoy any version of this story and if those lines are not there it's curtains!If you are a fan of Jane Eyre, you might want to read a book called Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It's a prequel and tells a version of the story of Edward's time in Jamaica and his marriage to his first wife (a rather strange story focusing on voodoo, slave unrest and her mother's mental instability). It's also been made into a movie (circa 1998?) which was okay."
The BEST cast in the BEST adaptation!!!
Rosie Cotton | 03/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen every version available (even the Scott/York one), and the Dalton/Clarke version is light years ahead of them all. Timothy Dalton IS Rochester....passionate and vulnerable, flawed and ALIVE, his very existence tainted by that one "fatal error" that wrecked his past and threatens his future (with Jane). He drew me in completely, making me feel all of Rochester's conflicting emotions, aided by a delightful script that was faithful to Charlotte's great book. Whole passages of dialogue appear to have been excerpted, and oh! did those words ring true when filtered through Dalton's resonant, warm, perfectly-accented voice. His performance was so magnificent, I was able to suspend disbelief over the one flaw in casting him--he really *is* too good-looking (technically speaking) to play Rochester. As for Zelah Clarke, she simply made Jane Eyre come to life, straight from the pages of Bronté's book, and there is no better compliment I can give her. I've heard some say that she was too "old" to play Jane, but she had such a grasp of the character, embodying Jane's very mannerisms, that honestly, this point never even occurred to me while watching the video. Now THAT's the mark of a great performance!This video is a definite "must-buy"---one to be watched and savored over and over again. Enjoy!"
Awesome Eyre and Enigmatic Rochester
Jill Clardy | Redwood City, CA USA | 01/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I viewed this set of 2 VHS tapes with my daughter who is reading the book in a high-school English class. I thought that hearing the dialogue and seeing the period costumes and settings would help to bring the book to life for her. I was astonished by the richness and accuracy of this edition. Frequently, video adaptations of novels are weak substitutes and leave you disappointed, since the characters and scenes from your imagination are far richer than any shortened screen adaptation can ever be. Now, having seen this lavish BBC production starring Timothy Dalton as the irascible Rochester and Zelah Clarke as the irrepressible Jane, I can't imagine them any other way.The video production was very accurate and true to the novel, leaving out non-critical scenes and some dialogue, but not changing events or people or altering the outcome in any way. At just under 4 hours, you may want to take several days to view the video, but you won't regret the time spent. The themes of feminine strength, love and forgiveness are still relevant today, hundreds of years after Charlotte Bronte wrote the book. The video can also serve as a useful supplement to understanding the novel (although I would never advise a student to forego reading the novel in favor of the video)."
A favorite to watch many times
Jill Clardy | 03/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Jane Eyre as a novel and this wonderfully in-depth BBC version is the only filmed Jane Eyre that I think brings alive the period mood and murky, turbulent romanticism of the book. Zelah Clarke seems a bit too old to be the Jane of my imagination but she is a highly accomplished actress and brings the perfect amount of Victorian propriety and Brontesque-feminist assertiveness to the character. She plays the part young and shy... and yet ageless and bold at the same time. Her Jane is not a 20th century interpretation; she seems to be the real thing right out of Bronte's mind. And she's adorable; a friend you would want to have. Timothy Dalton is so seductive that one has to laugh when Jane calls him ugly; but his looks are unique enough to accept that he is not of the ideal Victorian mold of attractiveness. Like Clarke, Dalton understands the inner fire of his role and can play his Rochester as a self-brutalizing "non-beauty". Where his Rochester excels over all others is in his sensual utterance of Bronte's wonderful words (oh a screenplay that chooses to use the novel's own best lines; how refreshing!)... his beautiful command of the language and his magnetic power of presence give us finally the Rochester that made Bronte legendary. Clarke and Dalton have tons of chemistry in their scenes together; and it's never tame. Their cat-and-mouse courtship is worth the price of the whole video alone. The production values aren't the most lush ever filmed; they're of a typically early-BBCtv-enclosed look... but it takes only a minute or two to forget that completely as the characters blossom to life and fill the screen with real passion and vividness. Compare to the rich expensive production values of the recent duds starring William Hurt and Ciaran Hinds as newer Rochesters... who cares how much effort was spent on costuming and beautiful landscape shots when those protagonists have no chemistry and people seem either yawningly uninvolved in the plot or blurting out poor screenplay language with a total lack of inter-connection? This slightly older BBC version is full of emotion, harrowingly gothic surrealism and deeply gorgeous romanticism. And it's literate; the language is unexcelled. The actors themselves make it a lush and ultimately beautiful production of a very high quality. Cheers to the thrilling direction as well; the scary scenes ARE scary and the love scenes are intense. This really feels like Bronte's Jane Eyre brought to visual life. I own more than one film version, including the older Orson Welles version, but this one's the only one I watch when I really want to immerse in the full richness of the story."