Jane Eyre “cultural event of 2006”

As several of my regular correspondents and readers know, I have recently watched and enjoyed the latest version of Jane Eyre, courtesy of a repeat on BBC 4 TV recently and a kind co-resident taping it for us to watch at leisure (a.k.a. consumer control).

When the series (in 4 parts) was first shown on BBC earlier in the year, it received pretty negative reviews. As I’d fairly recently seen the previous BBC version (Timothy Dalton as Mr Rochester), I thought I wouldn’t bother with the logistics of taping and finding time to view the new one.

At Christmas, however, Richard Morrison of the Times asked readers for their favourite show of 2006. More than half of the respondents nominated Jane Eyre, as Richard M revealed here.  The repeat showing of all 4 episodes in one evening overcame recorder’s resistance, and based on the usually reliable RM’s recommendation, we went ahead. The production was adapted by Sandy Walsh; Ruth Wilson (who I am told was not very well known previously) played Jane and Toby Stephens took on the more difficult role of Mr Rochester. I was quite won over by his portrayal. I had never much liked Mr Rochester in my previous readings of the book, but now I’m older I found that although I didn’t like him still up until "the" wedding scene, I became increasingly sympathetic to his dilemma and actions subsequently. Toby Stephens gave a sincere and committed performance as well as being suitably irascible and, yes, passionate.

The production has been showing on TV in the United States and is also now available on DVD. Highly recommended.

Some previous productions:
Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke.

Sorcha Cusak and Michael Jayston.

Charlotte Gainsburg and William Hunt.

Susannah York and George C. Scott.

Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hands.

Colin Clive and Virginia Bruce.

Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles (VHS).

4 thoughts on “Jane Eyre “cultural event of 2006”

  1. For me, this has been one of the best Jane Eyre adaptations I have seen and I thought both the main protagonists were excellent. Could have done without the chocolate box ending though, they did the same at the end of Bleak House…Yuk

  2. One of these days Hollywood and TV executives will realise they don’t need the chocolate box for the ratings. I agree, I liked this version — the opening shot of Jane in a red desert almost made me switch off, but I’m glad I persevered and it was symbolising her imagination (which I remember vividly from my readings of the novel) and not reinventing her as some politically correct nomad fundamentalist or something.

  3. Ooh yes, wasn’t that most dreadfully cheesy? The awful dialogue “Mrs Darcy, Mrs Darcy” and poor Matthew McF., what did they make him wear? Some kind of white flowing mini dress?!
    (They put it on the DVD release as a DVD extra which is how we saw it — you too, probably, Elaine.)

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