I’m rapidly becoming obsessed with this blog, and posting more and more frequently, so I thought that I should write one final note on Jane Eyre for you, my dear readers! (And yes, I’m reluctant to give up writing about Jane Eyre!)
This time, rather than commenting on the novel (which you all already know is my absolute favourite story of all time), I’m going to make a movie recommendation. Although I am definitely the type of reader who is never entirely happy with film adaptations of my favourite books and works of fiction, I do enjoying seeing my most adored characters come to life onscreen (even if the actors chosen do not always quite fit the images of the characters that exist in the World of my Green Heart)!
Having said all that, a few years ago – I believe it was during the summer after my senior year of high school when I had first read Jane Eyre – I stumbled upon the 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation of Charlotte’s famous book, starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby (SEXYYY!!!) Stephens as Rochester. Now, I didn’t really have any particular expectations of this miniseries because I had never watched a BBC miniseries before (Quelle horreur!), but I thought it would be fun to see someone else’s interpretation of a couple I had become so very fond of.
Let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed – and I have since become OBSESSED with this version of Jane’s story! (Sidenote: I even forced my boyfriend to watch the entire 4 hour miniseries only months into our relationship…because it is a prerequisite for dating me that my significant other become familiar with the story…and with Toby Stephens, whose dashing personality he will inevitably have to compete with for our entire lives!) It is without doubt the best adaptation of the novel that I have ever encountered – don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Fassbender as Rochester in the 2011 film version, but no one and I mean NO ONE can compare to Toby Stephens as ER<3! Stephens is absolutely perfect for the role…okay, he’s a perfect human being in general, but he is, no question, a near exact match for Edward Rochester’s character! (Sidenote: I should also make it totally clear that these are just my opinions – I’ve heard of several people not enjoying this particular adaptation, and I’m not trying to discredit their opinions…or say that they’re crazy and don’t know a thing about Jane Eyre and really need to reread the book or anything…) Now in the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I have since seen Toby Stephens perform live (in the play Private Lives, when I was in London two summers ago) which was an absolute dream come true (I swear, I almost cried I was that happy!), and I’m convinced that he is a remarkable actor in any role! But, I still stand by my statement that he IS Edward Rochester – or he’s as close to being him as any ER<3 lover can hope for!
Having said all that (like a teenage girl with a ridiculous crush, I know!), the true star of the miniseries is, for me, Ruth Wilson. She is an exceptional actress (Sidenote: I just started watching the show The Affair and she is absolutely incredible in it! It seems that all of the roles she chooses are so different and complex, so it amazes me that her acting is so flawless in every single one!), and her portrayal of Jane is spot on. Jane is the narrator of Jane Eyre, and so much of the reason I’ve always felt connected to her as a character is because she talks directly to the reader. We get to live inside her mind; we are privy to her thoughts and deepest feelings and emotions. But, how can this sort of internal monologue be conveyed onscreen? Well, somehow Ruth Wilson manages to portray every single sentiment on her face and with her eyes. She shows us what Jane is thinking without having to speak a word, and it is her honest, powerful and raw performance that makes this miniseries so memorable!
Now, you get Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson in a room together, and the chemistry is undeniable! Jane and Edward are the perfect couple, total soul mates and best friends – and I still feel that only Wilson and Stephens have succeeded in representing that all-encompassing unity perfectly!
So go watch the miniseries everyone! Buy it, find clips on Youtube, whatever! But watch it ASAP…and if my opinion is wrong, argue with me in the comments below!
Girl with a Green Heart