I truly do have a nice big list of genealogy posts to work on, but a loss in my extended family — and, more happily, a family wedding next month — have reawakened an urgency to work on, well, genealogy. That’s what happens when you put off writing that family history you’ve been promising everyone.
I admit I’ve been feeling blue and out of sorts. Bizarrely, I have found comfort in viewing every possible filmed version of Jane Eyre that I can. Gloomy moors and bloodcurdling offstage screams seem about right these days.
But Jane, on page or screen, always cheers me up when I’m blue. She’s so plucky and persnickety and earnestly righteous and badass in a restrained, Victorian way. Rochester needs a good swift kick every now and then, and Jane delivers.
And delivers and delivers!
So far I’ve looked at Janes from 1934, 1944, 1970, 1973, 1983 and 2006, not to mention SCTV’s surreal parody, Jane Eyrehead. And I still haven’t gotten to those 1950s teleplays, nor that 1990s Jane Eyre, nor yet Jana Eyrova, the groovy 1970s Czech version. (I recommend The Enthusiast’s Guide to Jane Eyre Adaptations, if you want to follow me down the dark and twisting path of Eyre-mania.)
And just think! In a few short days, a new film version will be unveiled, so that our very own decade will have fresh Eyre. (I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Stop throwing that stuff!)
The 1944 film with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine (a big favorite of my mom’s) still holds up well. Many adore the 2006 BBC version, but it’s somewhat overwrought for my taste. Jane doesn’t have to bellow to make her points, in my book. For me it’s a tossup between 1973 and 1983. The BBC’s ’83 edition has a slight edge in the person of Timothy Dalton’s Rochester –that’s textbook dark brooding, that is.
However, for sheer wrongheaded goofiness which truly raised my spirits, the prize goes to the 1934 Monogram studios adaptation. Jane (Virginia Bruce) is blond and sunny. Everyone is sort of blond and sunny, really. And American-accented.
Best dialogue, at 2:46:
[Jane and Rochester in blissful clinch, interrupted by blood-curdling, operatic scream.]
JANE: What was that, Edward? I’ve heard it a number of times — it frightens me!
ROCHESTER: Nothing to be alarmed about.
Oh, Jane, Jane. How many times have we heard that one?