Posted in Charlotte Brontë, costume drama, tagged Amanda Root, Anna Paquin, Billie Whitelaw, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Elle Macpherson, Fiona Shaw, Franco Zeffirelli, Geraldine Chaplin, Haddon Hall, Hugh Whitemore, Jane Eyre, Joan Plowright, John Wood, Josephine Serre, Leanne Rowe, Maria Schneider, Samuel West, William Hurt, Wuthering Heights on December 1, 2010|
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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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It’s a few weeks now since I watched Cambridge Spies, so it’s starting to fade in my mind and this won’t be a proper review – but I wanted to write a brief posting to say I enjoyed it and think it will have a lot of appeal to fellow costume drama fans.
I didn’t watch the series when it was first shown on the BBC, because I think for some reason I got it into my head that it was a docu-drama, a genre I find hard to like – but, despite the announcement at the beginning of each of the four episodes that this is a true story with some changes, it’s a fully-realised drama without that “docu” feeling about it.
The director is Tim Fywell, who made the movie of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, and it has the same sort of breathtakingly beautiful photography and the feeling of a vanished world – especially the opening episode, set at Cambridge between the wars, which has something of the languorous atmosphere of Brideshead Revisited. The script is by Peter Moffat. I don’t think I’ve seen much of his other work, but he scripted last year’s Einstein and Eddington – another one I sadly managed to miss.
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