Dear Reader Episode 06: Battle of the Janes

In this episode, I pit the 1944 and 2011 film versions of "Jane Eyre" against each to see which is the more faithful (and successful) adaptation!

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3 responses to “Dear Reader Episode 06: Battle of the Janes

  1. I thought you were going to withhold these versions for even longer, I don’t know why. Always great to hear your thoughts and research on all these versions.

    Speaking of reviews, I thought you might enjoy my capsule review of the 2011 version (I’ve never seen the 1943):

    “2011’s adaptation of Jane Eyre, with rising star Mia Wasikowska in the lead role and Michael Fassbender as the damn peculiar (everyone’s peculiar on Planet Bronte except for Judi Dench’s Mrs. Fairfax, really) Lord Rochester, is the essence of Gothic. Dressed up as a ghost story, with frequent allusions to the world of fairies and goblins and strange happenstance, the book and film use Jane’s limited point of view (which is not the same as a limited mind) to create strangeness and fear. The fuller picture – no less “horrific” – is something the audience puts together over time. And of course, it also serves as background metaphor for a young woman’s inner turmoil. Jane is one of those pre-feminist figures that seems shocking in the context of when she was put to paper, insolent with the Church, completely convinced that the soul transcends class and makes all human beings equal, and ambitious in her need to expand her horizons and create choices for herself. Jane Eyre is grand, literate melodrama, with bizarre characters and dark situations, and the film captures that more than adequately, using cinematic techniques (like achronological editing) to heighten the mystery.”

    As for the Hamlet podcast, I recorded the first episode just to see if it was doable and neither too long nor too short. It worked but lies unedited and unproduced for now, but yeah, it might show up when Ryan’s CheersCast next goes into inter-season hiatus, freeing up Thursdays for a few weeks. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. I’m just diving into the episode & thought I’d pass on a bit of trivia: Peggy Ann Garner (young Jane) appeared as “Betsy Boldface” in a third season Batman episode titled “Ring Around the Riddler” – one of the first episodes to feature Yvonne Craig as Batgirl.

    I highly recommend seeing Garner’s Oscar-winning role in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945). An excellent film & novel.

  3. Another highly enjoyable and well-researched episode!

    Incidentally, I recently saw a TV program with a Jane Eyre connection that might make for an interesting discussion: From the Agatha Christie series “Marple,” the 2006 episode “By the Pricking of My Thumbs” (based on one of Christie’s “Tommy and Tuppence” novels, with Miss Marple shoehorned into the adaptation) spends a fair amount of screen time discussing a fictitious film adaptation of “Jane Eyre” among its subplots.

    In the episode, one of the characters is a spoiled rich girl whose wealthy parents essentially bought her a film role…no less than playing Helen Burns in a new adaptation of Jane Eyre! It’s odd the way the episode treats the role: The girl acts as though she’s one of the stars of the film, though other characters dismiss her role as nothing more than a bit part, saying she only has one line in the movie…a severely diminished view of Helen Burns’ role! (Although it could be justified that perhaps the makers of this “film-within-the-film” deliberately reduced the character’s screen time and importance because they were stuck with an actress who wasn’t up to the task, but had to keep her in the film because her parents were bankrolling it.) During the town’s premiere screening of the movie, we see the start of Helen’s death scene, but just as “Helen” begins to deliver her dying speech, the screening is interrupted by the police, and the spoiled would-be actress has her big moment ruined.

    They appear to have used a modified version of the poster from the 1944 Jane Eyre film, with the names changed. Another oddity is that one of the townspeople refers to the Helen Burns role as “Jane’s friend who dies of leukemia”–I just had to wonder whether it was supposed to be the CHARACTER getting the facts wrong, or the episode’s screenwriters?

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