the silverfish logo

yellow underline

Donít Judge a Book by its Movie:

A Review (of sorts) of Jane Eyre (2011)

by Erin Mettling

The book is always better. I say, write, or proclaim that constantly. I advertise it on my clothes and in my eye-rolling responses to, "oh, Iíll wait for the movie." The book is always better. Always? Can something always be one thing, or does it change? Are there exceptions to the rule? Is the book always better? It seems relative, I suppose. To say something is always one way is to say that there is never room for improvement; that it canít be two things at once. The book is always better than the movieÖuntil itís not. That is to say, the book is the purest form of certain stories. Itís where something started. It is, nine times out of ten, what the author wanted to give the world. The film adaptation canít ever be as good. Or, it can, but only when viewed on its own; never with the book in mind.

For this writer, that wasnít the case with the newest adaptation of Charlotte Bronteís Jane Eyre. I have read this book several times since I was a child, and every time I feel Jane is abused for far too long. I understand that her treatment at the hands of her cousins and aunt, as well as those employed by her aunt, helps to shape her character. Her treatment at school and her relationship with Helen make her both patient and bold. These two parts, however, have always dragged on, for me. She is taunted, teased, and tortured mercilessly at the hands of John Reed. Jane is called vain and spirited. She is told time and again, that she is a willful child. She has one true friend when she is young, but Jane loses her to disease.

The book tortures Jane far longer than is needed. The newest film, however, touched on her childhood in flashbacks. The focus of this film was not on how Jane became the woman Rochester knows. It was about her relationship with the brooding gentleman as well as part of her time with the Rivers. The time Jane was locked into the Red Room for hitting John Reed, as well as parts of her alienation at school and friendship with Helen, were used to move the plot forward and give us sympathy for the heroine. They did not drag on needlessly. They were to the point and conveyed their emotions without angering the audience (read: me).

Having gone on about that, I still assert that the book is better. Jane Eyre drives me insane because of young Janeís mistreatment, as well as her willingness to turn a blind eye to Rochester keeping his crazy wife locked in his attic and still trying to marry Jane. The book has a lot of heart and hope, however. Heart and hope which Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender bring to the screen wonderfully. They were not overly styled, and the way they looked and behaved stayed true to the period.

I do prefer this film version of Jane Eyre over the book. I realize that makes me a slight hypocrite and, I feel, itís a bit blasphemous. The way I see it, though, is that this movie is made up of the good parts of the book. There are certain things I would change-the beginning being in the movie twice, for instance (if you see it, youíll understand)-but it is well done. I darenít say that the movie is better, but it is near par story-wise. In a sense, Iím judging this book by its movie because the latter makes me want to give the former another second chance

March 21, 2011
Vol. XV Issue 3

link to the iSchool blogroll

Find more at the Silverfish Blog