Jane Eyre (2011)

It’s so easy to make a bad adaptation of a great book. Beautiful words to not always align with beautiful images, and there is a certain heart to a book that can be lost in dissection.

I can happily say that Jane Eyre does not suffer this woeful misfortune, although I had a feeling this would be the case.

The film, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), centers around Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska, Tracks). It starts with a flashforward that returns near the end of the film, with her running away and begging for a home. She was kicked out of her home as a child, and she grew up to be a governess. Working for Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs), the two fall in love, but he’s hiding a terrible secret.

Intelligent and plain, the film’s heroine has touched audiences for almost 170 years, and will do so for many years to come. The thing about life is that we do not develop in permanence, but rather we are born, develop, and die, starting the cycle all over again. We connect to the humans of ages past because we’re not really different. The only lasting changes we can make are to the world around us, in the documents and monuments we leave behind.  Played by Wasikowska, Jane Eyre continues to have an authenticity that will last beyond our lives.

I think what is so marvelous about good art is that it transports us back to a time we will never truly witness. We can recreate a way of life that might otherwise be lost in time, and then long to be a part of the recreation. The job this film does is simply… stellar. The cinematic atmosphere is on par with the very best of the medium, every frame a painting of visual mastery.

I feel like I could go on for ages about the capitvating authenticity of this film, but I’ve waxed enough for now. This is not just a great adaptation of a classic novel; it might also be the definitive one.


Jane Eyre is available for streaming on Netflix.

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