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Posts Tagged ‘Ciaran Hinds’

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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Since starting up this blog, I’ve re-watched quite a few series which I first saw several years ago. Most have lived up to my memories – but this swashbuckling BBC adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s tale of chivalry didn’t… or not quite.

The sleeve of the Dutch DVD set

The sleeve of the Dutch DVD set

The main problem is that, at 300 minutes divided into six episodes, at times it feels rather slow and repetitive. I feel I’ve got something of a cheek complaining about this, since I’m usually moaning that adaptations race through a story too quickly – but this mini-series slightly goes to the other extreme.  Although I’ve chosen an illustration of a Dutch DVD set, because I think it’s the most striking sleeve, this set is also available in UK and US  editions.

Despite criticising the pace of some sections, I did enjoy it, and got really caught up in the action. I have read the novel, but don’t remember it all that well and so can’t comment on how closely the drama follows it in terms of plot detail. I think the romantic, intense atmosphere and the rather vague medieval world do have the same flavour as the book. However, the violence is more real and more bloody than in most swashbuckling dramas I’ve seen – at times hard to watch, but probably giving a far more real picture of what would have been involved in all those jousting sessions described in tales of King Arthur.
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