Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre

Screenplay by Moira Buffini

Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

Director of Photography: Adriano Goldman

Production Designer: Will Hughes-Jones

Film Editor: Melanie Ann Oliver

Costume Designer: Michael O'Connor

Music by: Dario Marianelli

Produced by Alison Owen, Paul Trijbits

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

2010 (first released in March, 2011, in the U.S.)


Mia Wasikowska

Michael Fassbender

Jamie Bell

Judi Dench

Amelia Clarkson

Sally Hawkins

Production Studio:

Theatrical: Ruby Films, Focus Features & BBC FIlms

Video: Universal


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: 50 GB

Feature Size: ca. 33.4 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (20-30 Mbps)

Runtime: 120 minutes

Chapters: 19


English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Dolby Digital DVS (Descriptive Video Services) 2.0

Spanish DTS 5.1


English SDH, Spanish & French


• Audio Commentary with Director Cary Fukunanga

• A Look Inside JANE EYRE - in HD (3:35)

• To Score JANE EYRE –  in HD (2:10)

• The Mysterious Light of JANE EYRE - in HD (1:50)

• 10 Deleted Scenes - in HD (16:50)


pocket BLU



Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: August 16, 2011

The Movie: 8.5

I’m happy to count myself in the A.O. Scott/Roger Ebert camp on this one.  I liked just about everything about this adaptation.  It preserved the look and tone of what I remember of reading Charlotte Brontë’s novel some dozen years ago, and it improves on  most every aspect of Robert Stevenson’s memorable 1943 film with Joan Fontaine (too old and too pretty, despite a ridiculous and ineffectual hairdo, but, oh, so innocent) and Orson Welles (a mere two years older than Fontaine, but that voice - his voice alone nails Rochester as the commanding yet tortured soul he is).  Mia Wasilkowska, by contrast, was 18 at filming, and deliberately a much stronger presence than Fontaine; Michael Fassbender was 33.


As for Jamie Bell, his St. John Rivers - far more anxious and devious in Jane’s presence than Fassbender’s Rochster - is hardly the Grecian statue described by Brontë. (By contrast, check out John Sutton in the Stevenson film.)  In short, the appearance of the actors is compressed as compared to their descriptions in the book or the 1943 movie.  Fassbender is not nearly terrible of visage enough (nor is Welles for that matter), but on the other hand, we can see why he falls in love with Mia’s Jane, even if we don’t.  It’s not that she isn’t pretty enough (Brontë would not have been happy with Fontaine, even if I swoon at the sight of her), its her willfulness and emotional distance - the very thing that enables her to survive - that commands my respect, though not so much an attraction.  In this, Miss Wasilkowska excels.


The older movie was in black and white, which seems eminently appropriate for a gothic romance. The new film cannot help but be in color - but how it is in color is what sets it apart from your usual Victorian cinematic presentation: Despite the deliberate framing of high and light values (for example, as Jane seen from behind looking out a large window), the contrast is compressed, and the sharpness is softened as the camera moves closer.  In fact, wide and medium shots, whether they are interiors or exteriors, are razor sharp and highly detailed, while close-ups are softened slightly - especially and not surprisingly of Miss Fairfax (Dame Judi) and Jane, surprisingly, but not inexplicably once you think about it.  Color is just a little bloodless, even when filtered in deep blues, especially once at Thornfield - bland, by comparison with most movies these days.


But the most profound difference between the new movie and the novel (besides that the movie begins at Chapter 28 as Jane escapes Thornfield after the aborted wedding ceremony - a structural decision that has little impact on the tone of the film - is that the book is told in the first person with the adult Jane looking back over her shoulder in the most chilling gothic language.  The 1943 film makes a stab at this by having Fontaine do the voiceover, and while it an epilogue that the new film leaves untouched, she does not quite put our thoughts and feelings in her mind, as Brontë is able to do, possibly because there is little difference between Fontaine as reader and Fontaine as actor, a trick that the reading a novel is able to overcome handily. 


Dario Marianelli’s moody, atmospheric score reminiscent in some ways of Bernard Hermann’s masterful music for the 1943 film (which foreshadows his work for Vertigo and Marnie, appropriately enough), struck me as having some of the quiet mysticism we associate with Arvo Pärt, but more melodic - even so, nothing you are likely to quite catch hold of.  Marianelli might not be a household name, but he is far from invisible in his craft, having written nearly four dozen film scores, among them for Eat Pray Love, The Soloist (which featured the cello - like and unlike Jane Eyre, which features the violin), Atonement, V for Vendetta and Pride and Prejudice.


Image: 9/9

Rivaling other recent BBC instant classics like Cranford and Bleak House, Jane Eyre may have them all beat for sheer beauty of image, though Cranford is certainly sharper in its close-ups.  Between DP Adriano Goldman, Production Designer Will Hughes-Jones, Art Director Karl Probert, Set Decorator Tina Jones and Costume Designer Michael O'Connor, there is scarcely a frame that fails to embody the veiled elegance of the period - resembling more Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon than the Merchant-Ivory productions of recent decades.  We have the impression of series of constrained emotions tightly laced in extraordinary fabrics that hold their secrets dearly, yet tenderly.  The rooms through which these fabrics walk or stand pensively staring through translucent windows are artfully lit in chiaroscuro.  Mesmerizing.  It’s old, yet new - just like Mr Fukunaga’s take on the classic novel.  As for Universal’s transfer, let’s not put too fine a point on it it: just about flawless.


Audio & Music: 9/9

Moira Buffini’s wonderfully spelled dialogue, by way of Brontë at times, is always clear, and generally properly shaped according to the location of the speaker.  The surrounds don not make their presence known any too often - they are most often used for atmospheric effect, but for rain, thunder, the rustle of a wind, and the occasional gothic horror effect, the DTS high definition audio has impact and clarity where required.  As already mentioned Dario Marianelli’s music score gets high marks indeed.


Extras: 6

Universal provides a number of Bonus Features, a couple of which are little more than self-promotions (“A Look Inside JANE EYRE” -  a 3-minute behind-the-scenes piece, featuring interviews with lead actress Mia Wasikowska and director Cary Fukunaga; “To Score JANE EYRE” –  two minutes of Director Cary Fukunaga talking about collaborating with Academy Award®-winning composer Dario Marianelli; and “The Mysterious Light of JANE EYRE” - another two minute bit, this time how director Cary Fukunaga and cinematographer Adriano Goldman applied lighting techniques to help set a gothic tone.) These all look great in HD, but have only a few seconds worth of valuable information each. The ten Deleted Scenes, also in HD, are more useful.  I like that they place the scene in context for us.


Director Cary Fukunaga, who turned 34 only last month, is a man much after my own heart - that is, he is analytical, but in respect to how he achieves an emotional or atmospheric mood.  He says as much as he opens his intriguing commentary that focuses on how he considered his setups in terms of the drama, while touching on working with the cast, locations and the demands of a short shooting schedule. Worth a listen.  I found the movie memorable enough that I could listen to him without having to watch the film a second time.


Recommendation: 9

Ok, Cary Fukunaga’s film is not exactly “jane Eyre”  and yet it is “of” Jane Eyre.  Mia Wasikowska, on whom the success of the movie rises or falls, is cool,detached, and yet feels deeply even though she refuses to show it most of the time.  Like Brontë’s Jane, she barely cracks a smile and I don’t think she ever laughs.  I liked her - a lot.  And even if this character or that resembled their counterpart from the novel more vaguely than not, they all work together in this new rendering - and that’s what counts, isn’t it.  A beautiful film that deserves re-watching.  Warmly recommended.

By the way, if the IMDB is correct, you will be able to see this film on Blu-ray three weeks before it comes to theaters in the U.K.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

August 3, 2011

(more images from Jane Eyre:)

















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