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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Memory Lane

Here is part of the farewell scene from the 1983 version- one of the so-called 'difinitive' adaptations. It is one of the best scenes in the series, I think, and one of Timothy Dalton's finest moments.

Contrastingly... there's this. This 1997 version still is my least favourite of them all, if only because in it Mr Rochester is a loathsome man: mysogynistic, puerile, emotionally and physically abusive. This adaptation has been called the one 'with only one good scene' but I'm not sure which scene is supposed to be the good one. It is hard to tell that Rochester is angry here because in all seriousness this is his tone of voice about 90% of the time. At least with Jane, he's often barking at her like this. The actor once described Rochester as 'less interesting than a horse's behind' and this is reflected in this clip, I think.

A good contrast is this clip from 1970 where Mr Rochester is 50 years old, I believe? And he's practically inanimate. This version fills me with horror because St.John Rivers shows more passion than Mr Rochester- he is more moved by Jane's piano playing than Rochester is throughout the entire film. And of course St.John has this scene where he clutches Jane on the moors begging her to be with him because he needs her strength. His confusion when she leaves has my sympathy.

I love this. This is from the 1944 film with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles- considered a classic in America it is unavailable now, and not very well known apparently. Someone once pointed out to me that Rochester looks like he is conquering France as he walks across the lawn. He has a nice deep voice, though.


pennyforyourdreams said...

Ooh er, I've just watched the 1997 clip and oh my word! It's a bit rubbish. I think Samantha Morton is quite a good actress, but I've seen more passion in a Post Office queue! And the actors seem spectacularly ill matched!

I did like the 2006 adaptation, apart from a few fruity scenes, but I think Ruth Wilson knocked Samantha Morton into cocked hat, and Toby did miles better than Ciaran Hinds and his ill thought out facial hair, it looked like it was squatting on his face until it could find a better abode.

Brontëana said...

LOL That was a great description of Mr. Hinds' hair. The story is apparently that he had just finished playing a medieval baddie and they just thought they would shave bits of the facial hair off but kept most of it. You should watch the entire film- it is my favourite adaptation for hilarious badness. (Even down to Rochester getting an extreme close up in the church so he can shout "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!" into the camera!). And the proposal is scary... Even people who like this version admit the kiss is... uhm... scary. I actually stopped the DVD at that point and had to recover before continuing. You can see a bit of that here where he looks like a turtle trying to chomp on a leaf or something.

I loved the 2nd episode of the new series, and most of the 3rd as well. But I hated the first and fourth episodes. I don't know what to make of the whole thing, as a result. :(

siansaksa said...

That makes 2 of us prefering the 2nd episode of the new adaptation best. I also liked 1 and 3 (some parts of them were also very enjoyable and some other were vaguely amusing or vaguely boring :) But I don't have so strong opinion against the 4th one: it was, IMO, full of cliches and cheesiness, but its bad parts were hilarious (as you pointed out about '97 version).

I am still not much convinced by TD performance and if it were to choose among Dalton, Scott and Hinds, my votes would go to Scott
(lack of apparent emotion can also be interpreted according to own imagination, as inner struggle or something; personally I prefer lack of emotion than bad kind of emotion on screen :)

livvie said...

oh, watching the farewell scene in the '83 version makes me want to go back and watch again. it really is a great moment in that series, and timothy dalton is giving it everything he's got.

i own the welles/fontaine version on VHS, i've always liked it as i love orson welles (more as a director than as an actor) but as always, filmed versions--or i should say versions meant to be shown in theaters--are always difficult for me as they need to jettison quite a bit due to the time constraints.

ChrisV said...

Eewwww, that '97 clip just made me squirm. Samantha Morton would have to be a great actress to convince the audience that she could love such an abusive person. All the grabbing and pulling of her and throwing her bag?? Geez. Hate the mustache too. That forced kiss...and then asking if she loves him...just didn't seem natural.

When I think of the Jane leaving Rochester scene, the '83 version comes to mind as one of the strongest portrayals.

Of the '44 movie, I always thought that Margaret O'Brien was one of the best Adele portrayals-and this version also had the best Brocklehurst. The film was so 1940s Hollywood but Rochester's house was quite impressive!

I just got the '73 version on DVD and I'm excited! I haven't seen it in years.

Anonymous said...

I purchased the 1997 version without realizing what I was getting - and am seriously thinking of tossing it into the trash - poor Edward is nothing short of "jerk" material in this version. Wasted $ - not worth donating to a library or anything. Wm. Hurt did much better, but so gloomy and moody all the time - I saw the Welles version when I was very young - and all I can say is the new production is remarkable (read wonderful) by comparison - it includes all the necessary characters, most of the "intent" of the story, if not all the delightful language . . . a wonderful adaptation. Ms. Wilson and Toby did a magical job. Thanks to you you, and Penny, and JaneEyre112 for posting so much of the series. Thanks mostly to Charlotte for putting it all down for us to enjoy and love.


Anonymous said...

forgot to mention - the best thing about 1983 - the dialogue - I can recite it from the book along with the actors - "I never loved, I never esteemed, I did not even know her." . . . too bad they left out "gross, grovelling, mole-eyed blocked hat I was!"



Uncle Mario said...

The music score from JE '70 is the reason why I kept playing John Williams' Jane Eyre Suite from an Boston Pops album.

Finally I gave in and ordered the JE '70 from Amazon.com to fill in the blanks in my memories of that version.

Unless I'm wrong, there's has not been a JE theatrical film adapation that has yet to break the 2 hour running time mark.

Brontëana said...

to siansaska:

Of those I would choose Dalton. He was theatrical at times, and sometimes strangely wooden but he had moments when I felt that he understood the character. I never had that sense with Hinds, or Scott.

William Hurt did seem to understand him, although it never went beyond those aspects of his character which are the most vulnerable and guarded- so we don't get to see much of this. People forget that his lifestyle had driven him to contemplate suicide... I don't think many of our film Rochesters seem sensitive enough. Toby's Rochester, for example, certainly seemed too happy and well-adjusted to let something like a grumpy wife drive him over the edge.

Brontëana said...

to livvie:

There were only really two or three moments where I really felt Dalton was doing something brilliant and this is one of them.

Brontëana said...

to chrisv:

Rochester's house? How many acres is it again? I sometimes think he should keep Mesrour indoors so he can get from one end of the house to the other in less than a few days.

Let me know what you think of the 1973 version. My DVDs aren't working, but it is still my favourite. I had just presented a seminar on Mr Rochester when I saw it for the first time, and I remember that my jaw actually dropped during the second interview. The first episode isn't very good, though. The Reeds are all terrible- especially Mrs Reed.

Brontëana said...

to uncle mario:

The music is wonderful. But you should be warned that the DVD is in poor condition. The masters were damaged. Part of a scene is missing, and the contrast is very dark.

Uncle Mario said...

Well, even though I knew about the poor quality on several JE '70 DVDs, I had to take a chance for the purpose o filling in the blanks of my memory (and to make sure whether George C. Scott was playing Edward as Patton as a user on amazon.com had asserted).Thanks for your warning Bronteana.

My only memory of JE '70 was Jane's flight from Thornfield, The Moors, and her returning to Edward.

Uncle Mario said...

Concerning JE '83, It was Zelah Clarke's delivery of her line "God Bless. God keep you from harm and wrong and reward you well for your past kindness to me." that clinched it for me in that scene with Tim Dalton.

Orginally, JE '83 was my favorite adaptation JE. However, being reacquainted with JE '73 through that wonderful JE '73 webpage and the DVD release, I'm not so sure anymore. Any advice.

rinabeana said...

I love that scene in the '83 version. Maybe I'm a sap, but I get all teary-eyed every time. "Think of my life when you are gone!" Oh, it kills me!!!

I've not seen the '97 monstrosity, nor do I want to. That appeals to me even less than Kevin McCarthy at this point. ICK! I'd smack Jane for staying with him, nasty person that he is. How am I supposed to believe that he loves her??? F-, Mr. Hinds.

I just watched the '70 version the other night, and I can't say that Scott's performance is very inspiring. At least he's not cruel, but he's not passionate either.

I watched the '44 version tonight. Despite it's very short length, I liked it. There was a lot of dialogue (esp. Rochester's) taken straight from the book, which I think is lovely. Most of the time I liked Joan Fontaine and was surprised that she could be fiery, while maintaining a total calm (such as when she spoke to Brocklehurst). Of course, the conquering hero Rochester was quite entertaining, as well! I thought Margaret O'Brien was adorable (I loved her in Little Women, too!) and I was surprised at Elizabeth Taylor's appearance as Helen.

Thanks for this post! I really enjoyed seeing the different versions.

rinabeana said...

EEK! Please forgive my grammatical faux pas of using it's instead of its. Shame on me!

Anonymous said...

For me the best scene in the 1983 Dalton/Clarke version is when Jane returns (the last 20 minutes). I can't get enough of it. I've worn out the tape and bought the DVD.

Kathleen Bolton said...

Ugh, Ciran Hinds, what happened to you?! You were so brilliant in Persuasion. Then you had to ruin it with your screaming Rochester. I never even finished watching this version, it was too distressing to see the abuse Samantha Morton had to put up with.

Rochester seems to be almost too complex for actors to handle properly. Either their too agressive or to wooden. Toby came close to capturing Rochester's warmth and humor, which I think is the great strength of the new release. But Tim Dalton looks and sounds like what I image Rochester to look and sound like.

It might be fun to splice together all the good Rochester moments and make a new film.

trougher said...

Coming into this debate rather late as I've just returned from Florida, but had to put my two pennorth worth, for what it's worth. Of all of the versions, the 1973 with Michael Jayston (IMHO) is far and away the best (ignoring the dodgy wigs and make up), followed by the Timothy Dalton version. I actually quite liked the Scott version, despite his clearly too advanced years I did feel there was a chemistry there and a believability. Although Ciaran Hinds was abysmal as Rochester, I think the worst version I have ever seen was the William Hurt film. Regarding the latest BBC effort, I am still unsure about it and will have to watch it again, but I do agree with the description (can't find it now) as gothic/Harlequin romance. The spiritual connection was heavily sacrificed to the portrayal of physical desire.


Anonymous said...

Lynne, I couldn't agree with you more.

Anonymous said...

Trougher, You are right on. I agree with you completely.

Lost in Translation said...

I have enjoyed your blog tremendously!

I have to confess: I first read “Jane Eyre” in Russian translation at 13 and loved it. In fact I re-read it so much that my father, who tended towards Dickens, thought of hiding the book away until I "outgrow" it... I've lived in the US for almost 30 years now and read and re-read Bronte in original (no, still didn't outgrow it!) many times over. I love the way she writes, the author’s voice: speaking and commenting in turns, never detached but yet sometimes as if looking in from outside, observing.

I saw George C. Scott’s version as a theatrical release in the USSR even though it was done for TV but not, I believe as a mini-series. I looked for it for years and got it on tape; too bad it is so dark! Incidentally, I disagree with you on this one – I like it a lot; Scott is good at being quirky and moody though York is too old and a cold fish indeed; cinematographically, it is quite amazing and John Williams’ score is very good, too. I saw both the Welles/Fontain version (is so overwrought, love your quote of him “conquering France”) and Bruce/Clive version (the only merit is its utter hilarity!) Later ones – 1996 Zefirelli and 1997 versions are in my mind without any merit whatsoever – acting, writing, cinematography (even in the Zefirelli version!) – just God-awful! I own the 1983 BBC mini-series (Dalton is almost as good in it as he is in the “Lion in Winter”; though there is some theatricality but I think he understands his character.) A couple of months ago I got the 1973 BBC mini-series on DVD; it is very literal, as described, and I like the lead actors a lot but I am so used to the Dalton/Clarke duo that it’ll take me time to do it full justice. I admit, until now, I never saw any of the Patrick McNee’s 1957 version, so thanks for posting the clips; I don’t think I missed much.

I own, I’ve been fascinated by the screen/TV adaptations. I guess what most frequently arrests me is the awful quality of writing in most of them, esp in movies (as opposed to the mini-series!) It is probably not too hard to stay close to the text. Oh, of course there are inevitable cuts but why, oh why is it necessary to re-write the dialogue, to add insipid text to connect the scenes when you can cull a couple of good lines from Bronte’s brilliant original? And if a screen writer really must do that, then why, oh why is it always that such insertions are stilted and dumbed down rubbish as in what one hears in both the 1996 & 1997 productions? The book itself is never cheesy and these two manage to bring it to the level of a "chick flick", a bodice-ripper or (in case of the Ciaran Hinds version) with an addmixture of a screaming Gothic horror flick, fit for a Halloween late night!

I have not seen the 2006 BBC mini-series, obviously, but from perusing the YouTube clips, which are now in abundance (funny, the BBC is not in a hurry to have them pulled for copyright infringement; probably because they help to stimulate the appetite of the viewing public for a PBS release and later for a DVD release?), it seems that it suffers from the same disease that the 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice" had suffered – ridiculous, anachronistic dialogue and over-sexualization of the relationship between the protagonists. I checked out the IMBD viewers’ comments; it seems that it is what attracts a lot of them. Oh, I will probably write to my cousin in London and ask her to get the DVDs (scheduled for UK release in February 2007); then I will properly see it and will be able to judge. Thanks again for your blog.


”Lost in Translation”

Anonymous said...

The Orson Welles version is available on dvd now.