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Jane Eyre
DVD disk
08.16.2011 By: Mathew Plale
Jane Eyre order
Director:
Cary Fukunaga

Actors:
Mia Wasikowska
Michael Fassbender
Judi Dench

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The latest adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 gothic novel about an orphan (Wasikowska) who falls for her employer (Fassbender).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I claim ignorance on Jane Eyre. It wasn’t required reading in high school, so I carried on and never looked back (it’s supposed to be good, right?). Nor have I seen any of the many adaptations with Virginia Bruce, Joan Fontaine, Susannah York, Zelah Clarke, Charlotte Gainsbourg, or Ruth Wilson in the lead role.

So here is Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 version of Charlotte Brontë’s beloved gothic novel to serve as an introduction. It stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Alice in Wonderland) as the orphan-turned-governess who falls for her employer at Thornhill Hall, Rochester (Michael Fassbender, a basterd in Inglourious Basterds), who is harboring a terrible secret.

Shouldn’t we be feeling the romance and the dread at some point?

Fukunaga’s take on Jane Eyre is a very stale production, one more focused on showcasing the cinematography, costumes, sets, and makeup than making us feel any emotions for the story or characters, lead or supporting (Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins and the always cold Judi Dench turn up).

Is this what every Jane Eyre is like? Is there that air of stiffness that Brit-lit adaptations seem to be made with? Are Colin Clive, Orson Welles, George C. Scott, Timothy Dalton, William Hurt, and Toby Stephens as bland in the role of Rochester?

Fukunaga’s version may very well be the best Jane Eyre there has ever been. But this review can’t say for sure, seeing as I have nothing to compare it to. Unless I Walked with a Zombie counts, in which case…
THE EXTRAS
Feature commentary with director Cary Fukunaga: The director gives a very strong and detailed commentary, covering a lot of ground regarding the making of Jane Eyre. He goes into the themes, his take on previous adaptations’ approaches, how certain shots/sequences were accomplished, the gothic atmosphere, and much more.

Deleted Scenes (16:52): There are nine here, which can be viewed separately or together. Their self-explanatory titles are: “Jane Lost on the Moors,” “Mrs. Reed Puts Jane Back into the Red Room,” “Mrs. Reed Talks to Jane in Bed,” “Badminton in the Garden,” “Jane Meets Rochester on the Staircase,” “Adele Screams in Jane’s Room,” “Jane Overhears the Ingrams Talking,” “Bertha Rips Wedding Veil in Jane’s Room,” “Rochester Pleads with Jane to Stay.”

A Look Inside Jane Eyre (3:42): No, this is not autopsy footage. It’s a very standard promotional featurette with clips, on-set footage and interviews with Mia Wasikowska, director Fukunaga, Michael Fassbender, and more.

To Score Jane Eyre: Cary Fukunaga and Dario Marianelli Team Up (2:14): This short piece takes a look at the collaboration between the director and the composer (who won an Academy Award for his Atonement score), with interviews and footage of Marianelli at work in the recording studio.

The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre (1:53): Director Fukunaga, cinematographer Adriano Goldman (who shot Fukunaga’s previous effort, Sin Nombre) and others briefly discuss the gothic mood and lighting of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Whether or not Cary Fukunaga’s take on Jane Eyre is all that different from any of the other numerous versions out there, I don't know. It will be up to admirers of the source novel to compare, contrast and determine where it sits. Those who are eager to pick up the DVD or Blu-ray will get a very fine commentary track, deleted scenes and more.
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