Yearning for the Moors of England

Destination: England

Movie: Jane Eyre (2011)

This movie came and went in the blink of an eye, and it did not even get to Tucson until a month after it had opened in more significant cities. If you missed it, I certainly hope that you will have the opportunity to see this latest Jane Eyre on DVD before too long. (This link takes you to a paperback edition on Amazon that has the most ill-fitting cover design I can imagine. You can pick up a Kindle version at the alluring price of $0.00. I recommend the one at the top of the list. And Nook fans can choose one for $.99)

Others have tried to make a movie from Charlotte Bronte’s brooding book about the tragic romance of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, like Franco Zeffereli in 1996 and there’s a Masterpiece Theater version. But none, according to what I recall and what I’ve read, were able to make this story come to life without sounding false to more modern ears.

Besides the amazing windswept landscape captured in the movie, the director and cast pull off some small miracles. I was surprised that the language seemed true to the restrained formality of the novel, and yet never struck me as difficult to understand or worse, comically over-dramatic.

The standing  joke around our house is that the men never want to see anything that doesn’t have car chases, or at least copious amounts of blood being spilled. No car chases here, because except for those moments where we follow Jane’s escape from the orphanage and later from the manse of Mr. Rochester, hers is a claustrophobic world. Those interludes where we see the great grey stretches of sky and land coincide with the low points of her life and underscore sadness. On the other hand, when she is happy, we see her in brightly blooming gardens, or standing like an puzzle piece that does not quite fit in a house party. She wears her subdued colors while all around her seem to be glowing with color.

Perhaps this book translates to modern audiences because of the horror-lurking-somewhere atmosphere of the great stone pile where Jane tutors Mr. Rochester’s young half-French daughter. What are those strange sounds at night? Who starts a fire? Why does the young man turn up bleeding form his neck and have to be secreted out of the house before dawn?

Unquestionably Jane’s spirit and intelligence and independence resonates with us. And even better, to young women (of any age, in fact) , Mr. Rochester falls in love with her BECAUSE she is feisty and speaks her mind. A more modern couple, one could not expect.

But let’s get down to the final reason that women, particularly will like this movie. Yes, the handsome brooding Mr. Rochester is the stuff of daydreams, and the moors are lovely and alluring, but the HOUSES! In our McMansion world, these enormous stone buildings with their brocaded curtains, carriage entrances, acres of gardens and orchards and hidden passageways, and servants by the dozen–these super-sized houses should be called castles. Ahh, to be the mistress who plans the weekend in the country where all one’s friends flock down from London. And to do it all with the aid of a mistress of the house who oversees the multiplicity of helpers. Now There is a daydream!

Having read the story long ago, the details slowly built up a recognition–a memory– of what was terribly wrong inside the walls of Thornfield Manor. No spoiler here, though–you’ll have to read or go see the movie.

And when the urge to see those beautiful houses and that lovely landscape seizes you, England’s toruism folks are ready with a Bronte/Jane Eyre itinerary. And get your guide to Jane’s Yorkshire.

The Brontes did not publish as many novels as Jane Austen, and lack some of her charm, but nevertheless, Jane Eyre is well worth reading–and now also worth viewing. Have you seen any of the Jane Eyre movies? Your take on this form of literature?




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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

3 thoughts on “Yearning for the Moors of England

  1. I LOVE Jane Eyre!!!:) I’ve heard so much about the tours in England based on the novels of Jane Austen and Brontes; both my favorite authors too! I wish I could go on these tours someday, as the background of the stories were set against such beautiful and picturesque places as described by the authors in the books, and I know that in reality it is also as amazing as it sounds. Awww…I wanna go on that classic trip now after reading your post:)

  2. that part of England does have its own intriguing landscape and weather, certainly — but I like things better north of Hadrian’s Wall, myself. definitely remember reading Jane Eyre as young teenager, though I’ve not seen this movie. Interesting that you like the idea of living in one of those big houses.

  3. Loved it! My daughter and I had the privilege of seeing it in the theater…although we have seen past versions of Jane Eyre- we both agreed this was the best. I’ve read Jane Eyre many times- and even knowing the story- the movie had some surprises for me…the formatting etc…it captured the book in ways most movies are not able to.

    As for the Bronte sisters- I’ve read almost all their books-and I’ve read biographies about them- They fascinate me! It is not often that three siblings end up becoming writers. Even Emily who had no intention of seeking fame- sky rocketed with her “Wuthering Heights”

    Okay you can see you’ve hit on one of my favorite subjects 🙂

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