The Faces of Adaptations | Jane Eyre Edition

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Faces of Adaptations | Jane Eyre Edition

Most days, this blog’s normal is some type of review. Since I’d like to step away from writing and publishing only reviews, today I thought it’d be fun to look beyond that and write about period drama in a different way.

(This post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I'll receive a percentage of the sale. Read the disclosure page for details.) 

This all begins with Twitter. Twitter is a wonderful place. Or it can be depending on how you chose to use it. I use it to share my writings (because I take this “work” seriously) and to hang out with some of the coolest people I know: authors and the book blogging community. The drawback of Twitter is the character limit, and when it comes to my tweeting, which is anything but concise (unless it involves tweeting blog titles and adding hashtags). This is why a recent Twitter conversation inspired today’s post.

(And by “recent,” I mean, nearly two years ago. Yes, that’s how long this post has sat on my USB archive.)

Some of my friends (shoutout to those #bookbesties; because I'm too lazy, I don't want to go back in time and find said Twitter convo, but you know who you are!!) and I were discussing the many versions of Jane Eyre, and I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at the many incarnations of them and take a trip down memory road of which are my favorites, and why.

As I’ve not read the novel Jane Eyre, judging these as adaptations goes beyond my scope however as cinematic masterpieces and a lover of a period drama aficionado, I feel qualified to fangirl over these in those regards.

To begin, we’ll take a look at some I haven’t seen (and to be honest, probably won’t), and then move onto the newer versions, all of which I have (finally) enjoyed.

1. Jane Eyre (1943)

Though on occasion I don’t mind sitting through a classic film, old cinema isn’t my forte. This is the primary reason why I've not see this version or the following...

2. Jane Eyre (1943)

Most believe an actor like Orson Welles is a great actor from his era yet I’ve never been particularly fond of him. Ironically, I do enjoy watching the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice now and again, but as the Bronte classic isn’t one of my most favorite stories, tracking down a copy of this version isn’t high on my priority list. Buy Jane Eyre (1943) on DVD.

3. Jane Eyre (1983)

Dark and intense, this is BBC’s first adaptation of the Bronte classic. Lengthy and putting a great deal of stock into Jane’s past, I find myself consistently caught up in this version. Timothy Dalton is controversial in his role as Rochester, however he gives the character a kind of wonderfully intense characteristic. Rent or buy this on Amazon video or buy Jane Eyre (BBC, 1983) on DVD.

4. Jane Eyre (1996)

Another film that cast a mediocre Rochester for their piece, that actor being William Hurt. Unlike Cirian Hinds, this version isn’t “ruined” by the leading man, but considering the last two adaptations listed below, he’s further down the list as a favorite. Charlotte is quite talented in the titular role, a role seems to suit her quiet, modest personality. Rent or buy Jane Eyre (1996) on Amazon Video or purchase the DVD

5. Jane Eyre (1997)

A&E’s film adaptation of the classic is not at all my cup of tea. The filming is properly Gothic if memory serves (it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it though there have been multiple viewings), however Cirian Hinds as Rochester? Sorry, no. He’s one of those obvious actors I only like in certain roles. Buy Jane Eyre (A&E) on Amazon Video or purchase on DVD

6. Jane Eyre (2006)

After many (many) people telling me this most recent BBC miniseries ranks as their favorite, I finally tracked down a copy (thank goodness for region 2 capabilities) and binge watched the 3-hour version in the course of one Saturday afternoon. It’s really quite beautiful. Toby and Ruth are marvelous together, especially Ruth who gives Jane a girlish, whimsical quality. Overall, I’d go so far as to say this adaptation is the most lighthearted there has been to date.

Unfortunately, this one is nearly impossible to find available in the US... unless you're willing to pay $100+ dollars for a DVD copy. If you have the capacity to watch a region two DVD, luckily, those are more reasonable in price. 

Since I will be reviewing this one soon, I have to say this one might have overtaken my favorite, which was the 2011 feature film.

MINISERIES REVIEW | Jane Eyre (2006)*

7. Jane Eyre (2011)

(This scene is SO underrated, isn't it?)

For me, this version is perhaps the hardest to relate to. The character of Jane, as played by Mia is beyond difficult to feel anything for. She keeps her emotions in check to a greater degree than even the general perception of Jane’s character demands. That being said, Michael is quite swoon-y as the brooding Rochester and portrays a Gothic hero to perfection. This is saying nothing of the stunning cinematic qualities this boasts.

Rent or buy Jane Eyre on Amazon Video or purchase on DVD

FILM REIVEW | Jane Eyre (2011)

Which adaptations are your favorites – and why? I’d love to read your impressions or thoughts on these many versions of the Charlotte Bronte classic Jane Eyre. The comments are now open to you. Comment down below.

*Publishing soon (check back in the next week).


  1. Tell the truth! Michael Fassbender is the real reason you love 2011 best ;-) LOL
    But I'm with you on 2006 version. I LOVE it!!! It's my favorite! I'm a BIG Jane Eyre nerd - and cannot wait to write a modern adaptation some day, but oh my goodness, I think both Toby and Michael portray excellent and different aspects of Rochester.

    1. *wink* Maybe...

      I only recently watched the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, and fell in love with it! In fact, just dusting this post off has reminded me: I really want to rewatch this one. It's lovely.

      Oooo!! A modern adaptation? I'd SO be there. :)

      I agree. Each of these actors portray Rochsester differently, though I certainly have my favorites (Toby, Michael and Timothy).

      Pepper, thanks so much for stopping by - appreciate your comment and visit. :)

  2. I love Jane Eyre but have only seen two adaptations - a 1970s version and the 2011, which is my favorite. Nothing is as good as the book though....haha

    1. I adore the 2011 version, Kara. It's such a lovely period piece, cinematically, and it somehow has a "lyrical" way of telling its story. :)

      So glad to "see" you, friend! Hope you've been well.

  3. I really like the 2011 version. It was well-cast, beautifully shot and captured the tone. BUT! I am still mad at how they basically cut out all the gothic / Bertha / ghost elements. They got rid of the creepy, unsettling stuff and just made him a cold bigamist. Grrrr...

    1. It IS beautifully shot! I agree. That's part of its appeal in my cinematic mind.

      I've not read the book so I don't know which version is most faithful, but I guess I didn't notice a lack of topical content - I'll have to take note next re-watch. :)

      Thanks so much for visiting!

  4. I think I've seen the 1983 (Timothy Dalton) and 2006 versions. Whatever I could find on Amazon Prime and Netflix in the past year. I liked the 2006 version.

    My favorite adaption is a BOOK adaption - Jane Eyre goes cyberpunk in The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp. It's a masterful adaption that demonstrates why Jane Eyre is a classic in the truest sense of the term.

    1. That's a great way to work through adaptations, Carolyn: Amazon and/or Netflix! Sadly, the DVD for the 2006 version is WAY expensive, but it's worth trying to find a copy of. :)

      I've not heard of the book you mention, but I'm excited to know about it - who doesn't enjoy a good re-telling??

      Thanks so much for visiting, Carolyn! Glad to read your thoughts on these adaptations.

  5. Jane Eyre is my favorite novel, so I've seen quite a few versions, though certainly not all of them out there. Yet. The 1983 remains my favorite, but I really enjoy the 2011 as well. I didn't like the 2006 Rochester, though I loved the Jane. I rather liked Ciaran Hinds as Rochester, but I'm a fan, so there's that. Couldn't stand Hurt in the role, though. Blah. So blah. Mr. Rochester should never be blah.

    Great comparison post!

    1. I really like the 80s adaptation, Rachel, which is strange since I'm NOT a fan of the the 80s era of Austen. That said, there's something really good, some "quality," about that adaptation. The 2011 is *probably* my favorite though a re-watch of the 2006 version MIGHT change my mind.

      I do like Ciaran Hinds as an actor, he just doesn't work as my "ideal" Rochester - I'm so glad you like him in the role! That's my aunt's favorite version. :)

      Hurt is definitely not my favorite, but he gets ever the slightest higher ranking that Hinds. ;)

      SO glad you stopped by! Thank YOU for reading.

    2. I wish that I liked the 2006 better overall, because Jane herself was *fantastic.*

      I hope you find time to read the book, because I think you would adore it. As I think someone else mentioned in the comments here, it has an amazing Christian message about not letting emotions cause you to fall into sin, trusting God rather than man, and using the gifts you've been given to help and serve others. I love it. (But you knew that last bit already.)

    3. Nothing wrong with not liking an adaptation. No matter the reason(s). As I remember it (and if my review is an indication), I really liked the 2006 version!

      Someone else recently told me they think I'd really like the book... here's hoping I do give it a chance AND that I enjoy it. I love the sound of it, for sure. Now all I need to do is find a PRETTY edition to motivate me. ;)

      Thanks, as always, for visiting.

  6. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I love seeing you feature it here, Rissi! The only adaptation I've seen is an older one from the 1970s. I've been wanting to watch the 2011 version. Maybe someday... :-)

    1. Thanks, Miranda - this was SO much fun to put together. I have my 2006 adaptation review needing to be published too. Hopefully next week.

      Enjoy the 2011 version if/when you see it - and let me know what you think. :)

      Appreciate you stopping by.

  7. Here are my opinions.:)

    1943- Orson Welles is probably the best Rochester in a film who physically fits the book description. That Jane was all wrong. The film's best feature (besides Rochester) is the gothic element showing up so well because it is black and white.

    1973- Very similar to the 1983 version, but looks more 1970's. Michael Jayston is a good Rochester, but may be a little too handsome like Timothy Dalton. Sorcha Cusack is a good Jane, but has permanently raised eyebrows. It covers the whole novel faithfully, so is great to me.

    1983- This is probably the best version to date. It covers the whole novel faithfully, has great leads, and doesn't scrimp on the kisses!

    2006- Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson were very good,the music and cinematography were excellent. The storyline did not stick faithfully to the novel in many places and that bothered me. Even the script was off. The book Jane doesn't give room for temptation. She goes out of her way to avoid it. This Jane leaves the door wide open for it and wants to get as close to the edge as she can without crossing the line. Jane is supposed to be the moral compass. I feel like the scriptwriter and director were trying to leave God out of this version. The novel, 1973, and 1983 versions have God, religion, and the spiritual elements throughout the story. Leave those out and you have lost the backbone.

    1. Hi, Sylvia! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. :)

      1943: I'm glad Welles fits the role so well. I think part of my "issue" with old films is how "dramatic" they are. It's just a preference I guess for filmmaking qualities. Glad to know those Gothic vibes show up nicely - I'm sure the sets are well suited because of this.

      1973: Another I haven't seen! :)

      1983: I have a soft spot for this one, though why I don't know. Must be that amazing chemistry.

      2006: How interesting. Because I didn't read the book, I didn't know it was so high on religion. That's wonderful. I always admire Jane's moral compass so I'm glad to know it's a rooted part of the story. Makes her character all the more well characterized and explored. :)

      So glad you stopped by. Thanks!!


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