Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Bronte on the Big Screen: Jane Eyre Comes to Life Again
Jane Eyre is a strange girl. Small - strong-willed - and, we are told, with a piercing gaze. A few years ago, when I shared a house with two women and one small boy, I discovered one day that the girl who lived downstairs in the dining room reads Jane Eyre annually. She plans it, looks forward to it, and blissfully disappears for several days to reemerge using antiquated sentence construction.
Anything someone reads annually is automatically intriguing. I'd read Wm. Shakespeare and Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder. But I had never trod the Bronte path.
It is cobwebby and sweet, sinister and shadowy. It feels a bit like Dickens - a bit.
What surprised me most was the intense femininity, the unabashed emotional peek into a strong, quirky female mind in the 19th century. The gothic overtures were expected; the startling, blunt exposure of an overlooked girl was not.
I loved it.
Immediately, Emily and I (my friend who lived in the dining room, not Charlotte's sister) began playing the unending game: what actress would you cast? What actor? Who should be Mr. Rochester? Who should be Jane?
Apparently, some casting directors have also been playing the game. Finally, a new version of Jane Eyre is coming to a theater near you this March (thankfully sans Timothy Dalton, unlike the old version that creeped the wits out of me as a child). I am thrilled to see Dame Judi Dench in this rendition: the incomparable British actress has been making the rounds of classic English literature, having played Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the recent Pride and Prejudice. She has morphed brilliantly from leading lady to aging matriarch (and often manages to seem as if she still is, in some ways, leading lady).
At any rate, the book - and movie - are called Jane Eyre, not Aging Housekeeper, and you can watch the trailer here. It looks quite promising.
Is there a loved literary character you wish you could cast? Who would you choose to play your favorite character?