ⓘ Jane Eyre (2011 film)


ⓘ Jane Eyre (2011 film)

Jane Eyre is a 2011 romantic drama film directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. The screenplay is written by Moira Buffini based on Charlotte Brontes 1847 novel of the same name, a classic of the Gothic, bildungsroman, and romance genres. The film was released on 11 March 2011 in the United States and 9 September in Great Britain and Ireland. The films costume design, led by Michael OConnor, was nominated for an Academy Award.


1. Plot

A tearful Jane Eyre runs away from Thornfield Hall, finding herself alone on the moors. She collapses at the doorstep of Moor House, home of St. John Rivers and his sisters; they take Jane in and nurse her back to health.

The film flashes between Jane’s recovery and her grim childhood. An orphan, she is treated cruelly by her cousin John and aunt Mrs. Reed. Jane is sent to the Lowood School for Girls; under the strict Mr. Brocklehurst, the girls are beaten, but Jane befriends fellow pupil Helen Burns, who dies of consumption.

Eight years later, Jane, now eighteen, leaves Lowood for a position at Thornfield Hall. Welcomed by the kindly housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax, Jane begins her plain but isolated life as governess to Adele Varens, the young French ward of Thornfield’s owner. One day, Jane sees a rider thrown by his horse and comes to his aid. Returning to Thornfield, she learns the man is Edward Rochester, master of the house. He grudgingly praises her instruction of Adele, and her own" openess and unpolluted mind;” the two find themselves curiously attracted to one another.

One night, Jane discovers Rochesters room on fire, which they manage to extinguish; he warns her not to speak of the incident, and they share a chaste but passionate moment. The next day, Rochester leaves suddenly to call on Blanche Ingram, whom Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane is Rochester’s prospective wife; she and her family return with him a few weeks later on a grand visit to Thornfield.

Rochester confronts Jane, who is hurt by Blanche’s presence, but is interrupted by an unexpected guest – Richard Mason from Spanish Town, Jamaica, whose arrival disturbs Rochester. That night, the household is awakened by a scream. Rochester reassures the guests, but brings Jane to tend to Mason, who has been badly injured. Jane notices a hidden door in Rochester’s room before Mason is taken away by a doctor. Rochester confides in Jane, cryptically, that he is haunted by a past mistake but has fallen for a new woman in his life; Jane believes he means Blanche.

Jane receives word that her cousin John has committed suicide, leading her aunt to suffer a stroke. Jane returns to her dying aunt, who gives her a letter from Janes paternal uncle, John Eyre, asking that Jane live with him in Madeira as his heir. The letter is three years old, and Mrs. Reed admits to writing John that Jane had died at Lowood. Jane forgives her aunt and returns to Thornfield, beginning a correspondence with John.

Faced with Rochester’s impending marriage to Blanche, Jane tells Rochester she will leave Thornfield and confesses her true feelings for him. Rochester declares that Jane his only love and proposes; she accepts. At their wedding, Mason appears with a lawyer and reveals that Rochester is already married to Masons sister, Bertha. Rochester admits the truth and takes Jane to meet his violently deranged wife, kept in a hidden room at Thornfield. Rochester explains that he was made to marry Bertha for her money, but she rapidly descended into madness and he locked her away rather than subject her to an asylum; she was responsible for the strange happenings in the house. Jane, wounded at his deception, leaves Thornfield.

After her recovery at Moor House, St. John gives Jane a teaching position and a cottage. One night, she imagines a knock at her door to be Rochester, but instead finds St. John with news that her uncle John has died and left her his fortune of £20.000 equivalent to £1.800.000 in 2019. Jane offers to share her inheritance with St. John and his sisters, and the four live together at Moor House. St. John asks Jane to marry him, but she rejects him.

Jane returns to Thornfield to find the house a blackened ruin. She learns from Mrs. Fairfax that Bertha set fire to the house; Rochester was able to rescue everyone but his wife. Jane visits Rochester, who lost his eyesight in the fire, and the two are reunited.


2. Cast

  • Tamzin Merchant as Mary Rivers
  • Romy Settbon Moore as Adele Varens
  • Freya Parks as Helen Burns
  • Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers
  • Valentina Cervi as Bertha Antoinetta Mason
  • Imogen Poots as Blanche Ingram
  • Sally Hawkins as Mrs Reed
  • Amelia Clarkson as young Jane
  • Su Elliot as Hannah
  • Sophie Ward as Lady Ingram
  • Jayne Wisener as Bessie Lee
  • Holliday Grainger as Diana Rivers
  • Judi Dench as Mrs Fairfax
  • Simon McBurney as Mr Brocklehurst
  • Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre
  • Craig Roberts as John Reed
  • Harry Lloyd as Richard Mason
  • Michael Fassbender as Edward Fairfax Rochester

3. Production

The film was produced by Alison Owens company Ruby Films, with financial support from BBC Films, Focus Features and Lipsynch Productions. The script by Moira Buffini appeared on the 2008 Brit List, a film-industry-compiled list of the best unproduced screenplays in British film. The story is largely presented by way of flashbacks. In October 2009, it was announced that Cary Fukunaga would direct the adaptation. Fukunaga had been in England promoting a film when he met with the BBC and learned about their plans for a new adaptation. The filmmakers decided to play up the Gothic elements of the classic novel. Fukunaga stated, "Ive spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Bronte was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story. theres been something like 24 adaptations and its very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like its just a period romance and I think its much more than that."


3.1. Production Casting

Mia Wasikowska starred as the title character and Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester. Fukunaga and the producers wanted an actress close to Jane Eyres age in the novel, in contrast to many previous versions. Fukunaga liked Wasikowskas "sense of observation in her eyes" and that in a way that didnt feel theatrical". He felt her looks could be played down as required for the role. On casting Rochester, the director stated that while there were actors closer in appearance, he felt Fassbender had the spirit of the character. Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Simon McBurney, Imogen Poots, Holliday Grainger and Tamzin Merchant also joined the cast.


3.2. Production Filming

Principal photography began on 22 March 2010 and concluded in mid-May. Filming locations included London and various locations in Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Dales, including Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, the village of Froggatt and the Fox House pub in Sheffield, as well as Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire. The score is composed by Academy Award winner Dario Marianelli. Another Academy Award winner, Michael OConnor, designed the costumes. Although they estimated the setting was the late 1830s, they settled on four to five years later in 1843. Fukunaga commented that "the clothing style of the 30s was just awful. Every woman looked like a wedding cake." However, they decided to allow a few characters in older fashions to reflect that some would not have updated their style. He looked at some 60 residences for one to represent Thornfield Hall but settled on Haddon Hall as it had not undergone much redecorating; the same location was also used in the 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre. The conditions were very cold and Fukunaga admitted that Wasikowska nearly got hypothermia on the second day while shooting the rain sequence; however, he could not imagine filming anywhere else, saying "Northern England – Yorkshire and Derbyshire, the moors and dales – they look like theyre something straight out of a Tim Burton horror film. The trees are all twisted by the wind; the bracken and the heather on the moors have this amazing hue. And the weather is so extreme and it changes all the time. The house even, Haddon Hall, is just so steeped in history, the spaces, the galleries, they sort of just breathe and you feel the presence of the history." Key scenes were filmed in Broughton Castle.


4. Release

The film had a limited release on four screens in the United States on 11 March 2011. It grossed $182.885, for a per cinema average of $45.721 – the best speciality debut of 2011. As of 14 July 2011, its North American total stood at $11.242.660. After the United States, it was released in a number of countries during the spring and summer of 2011, but not until 9 September was it released in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In its opening week, Jane Eyre moved to third place in the UK box office, behind The Inbetweeners Movie and Friends with Benefits.


4.1. Release Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of 138 critical reviews are favourable. The sites consensus is that "Cary Fukunaga directs a fiery and elegant adaptation, while Mia Wasikowska delivers possibly the best portrayal of the title character ever."

A. O. Scott made the film an "NYT Critics Pick", saying "This Jane Eyre, energetically directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga Sin Nombre from a smart, trim script by Moira Buffini Tamara Drewe, is a splendid example of how to tackle the daunting duty of turning a beloved work of classic literature into a movie. Neither a radical updating nor a stiff exercise in middlebrow cultural respectability, Mr. Fukunagas film tells its venerable tale with lively vigor and an astute sense of emotional detail."

Richard Corliss of Time named Mia Wasikowskas performance one of the Top 10 Movie Performances of 2011.

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