Cary Fukunga released his latest film on March 11, 2011, a remake of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre. This Gothic love story (originally published in 1847) has hit the big screen various times before, but this time Mia Wasikowska was chosen as our beloved heroine.
The film begins in media res, as Jane seeks shelter after running away from Fairfield Hall, an interesting way to start the film. It then shortly follows flashbacks to Jane’s forlorn upbringing as an orphan in her aunt’s house, attending the despicable Lowood Institution, a boarding school for girls, and then as a young woman bringing the audience back to Jane’s current position. Personally, I felt that this was a good choice. As a child, Jane never really felt as though she had a home or a family, and flashing back to earlier parts of her life truly emphasizes her lack of a sense of belonging.
After attending the torturous institution, Jane finds herself a position as a governess at Fairfield Hall. This magnificent estate is complete with acres and acres of lush land, along with a castle with mysteries hidden in its walls. After three months of residency on the estate, Jane finally meets its owner, Mr. Edward Rochester, a pompous, wealthy bachelor. Unbeknownst to Jane, Rochester hides a terrible secret from her, which changes everything. As an excellent adaptation of a novel should, its themes of “love and passion,” along with “morality” weren’t left out; they proved themselves to be the glue to hold the whole film together.
During production, the writers of the film wanted to really play up the Gothic elements of the novel, making it one of its darker adaptations. Fukunaga stated, “I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story… there’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.” He was very successful in doing this, which was probably why the ending of the novel was abridged to keep up with the Gothic tone.
Mia Wasikowska did a fabulous job as the titular role. She delivers such passion, and her performance is hailed to be possibly the best as Jane Eyre adaptations are concerned. Wasikowska and her co-star Michael Fassbender (Rochester) give audiences much satisfaction; they did such a flawless job. Their expressionisms and body language makes the torment and attraction of Jane and Rochester very tangible for viewers. Since the entire book’s dialogue didn’t make it to the big screen, what remained unspoken compensated.
Although a few aspects of the novel were eliminated which I thought would have truly made the film absolutely perfect, everything else about it made me forget about any of its flaws, hence a wonderful film.