Archive for the ‘Charlotte Brontë’ Category

Classic literary adaptations on TV might be in short supply at the moment, but there are two feature film versions of the Brontës’ novels due for release in 2011 – a new Jane Eyre directed by Cary Fukunaga and a new Wuthering Heights directed by Andrea Arnold. I’d be more excited about adaptations of works which haven’t been brought to the screen so many times already – but, nevertheless, will look forward to seeing both of these, especially the new take on Jane Eyre, as it is one of my favourite novels and I’ve reread it many times over the years. I loved the Sandy Welch version with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, which I hope to re-watch and review soon, but am always game for a new version too.

Seeing the trailer for the new Jane Eyre reminded me that I hadn’t yet got round to watching the most recent feature film version, from 1996, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, although I bought the DVD some time back. (I didn’t see it on release because my children were small then and it was hard to get out to the cinema.) I’ve now watched this one and have rather mixed feelings about it – my main problem being, perhaps surprisingly, that it felt too reined-in and not passionate enough. I have always remembered the sensuous romance of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, and I suppose I expected something of the same atmosphere in this adaptation – but this is a far quieter film, with much of the emotion kept so far beneath the surface that it all but vanishes.


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I see the BBC has announced several new films and dramas at Cannes (not sure if these are all feature films?) – some we already knew about but others are new. Here are a couple of links for more information, to the BBC press office and Screen Daily.

Several of these are period/costume dramas- one new announcement is an adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman about Charles Dickens’ secret relationship with actress Ellen Ternan. I thought Tomalin’s book was excellent and the screenwriter, Abi Morgan, did a great job in adapting Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, so this could be a fine production, but all the same, I’m a bit fed up that adaptations of Dicken’s actual works, such as the Dombey and Son Andrew Davies had been working on, get scrapped, but there is still money to fund a biopic focusing on a scandal. Maybe if it does really well it will persuade the BBC to get on with some new versions of some of his novels or short stories – there are loads of those which have never been adapted at all, and I haven’t heard anything for ages about the David Copperfield Davies is now supposed to be working on instead of Dombey.

Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton star in The Awakening, which is described as a classic ghost story in the tradition of MR James and set in 1921, but isn’t actually a classic adaptation – it’s a new original script by Stephen Volk and director Nick Murphy. My hopes are high for this one as the BBC has such a great tradition of ghost stories – I wonder if it will turn up on TV or in the cinema at Christmas?

Stephen Fry is writing and directing Hallelujah!, about the build-up to the first performance of Handel’s Messiah – this is at an early stage by the sounds of it but should be well worth seeing.

In post-production is Ralph Fiennes’ eagerly-awaited film of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus – Fiennes will star as well as directing, and Vanessa Redgrave also stars, along with Gerard Butler, Brian Cox and James Nesbitt. The new BBC Films version of Jane Eyre is also currently being filmed, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender and directed by Cary Fukunaga – I really have to wonder if a new version can possibly add anything to all the great adaptations which have already been made of this novel, but I know I will go and see it just the same.

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Sorry not to have been around, but life and work are getting in the way of blogging, as ever. I was interested to hear today that things seem to be developing a bit with the projected feature film of Jane Eyre . Originally, Juno star Ellen Page was supposed to be playing the title role, but she dropped out a while ago and now it is said that the heroine will be played by Mia Wasikowska, who is also playing Alice in the new Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, with Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester.  Here’s a link to the full information at Variety.  

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I find it very difficult to pick favourite books, movies, etc – but if I was forced to pick one novel which has meant the most to me in my life, then it would probably be Jane Eyre. So it’s surprising that, so far, I haven’t got round to writing about any of the many adaptations of Charlotte Brontë’s great novel on this blog. Eventually I’d like to write about as many of them as I can – but, for starters, here are a few thoughts about the 1997  TV movie starring Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds, which has just been repeated on ITV3 in the UK. I saw it when it was first shown, but hadn’t remembered it all that well.

JaneEyreMorton2As with many single ITV dramatisations of long novels, the main problem with this version, directed by Robert Young and scripted by Richard Hawley, Kay Mellor and Peter Wright,  is that it is so short – 108 minutes according to the imdb.  Inevitably, large chunks have had to be left out, and there is very little of the young Jane’s time with the Reeds or at Lowood – just brief glimpses of key moments, like the Red Room and the death of Helen Burns. To be honest, I didn’t really mind skating over this part of the book quite quickly, as these sequences tend to be very demanding for child actresses, but a lot was lost.  Anyway, when seeing any dramatisation of Jane Eyre, I always find myself waiting eagerly for her first sight of Thornfield and her first meeting with Rochester, which of course is the centre of the book.


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