Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel “Jane Eyre” is one of the world’s best known romantic stories – so it’s no surprise that the novel has been adapted for the screen more than a dozen times, with one of the most highly acclaimed versions being 1943’s Hollywood production staring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. And the novel keeps inspiring filmmakers to come up with new screen versions. The most recent was made by Cary Fukunaga, a young director with only two independent features under his belt.
To make the movie stand out among the previous adaptations, Fukunaga chose to focus on what he considered to be the novel’s Gothic elements.
“I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it,” he said in an interview with Movieline. “That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story… there’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.”Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender were cast as orphan governess Jane Eyre and her master Edward Fairfax Rochester.
The critical reception of “Jane Eyre” has been mostly positive. “There is not a drab image or a middling performance in the piece,” wrote a reviewer for Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The freewheeling adaptation drops needless scenes and spurs the story ahead with galloping momentum.”
“A bold choice of director, striking visuals and a Rochester to rival Orson Welles’ ensures this doesn’t feel like just one more highbrow period piece or stodgy great-book adap,” added a Total Film writer.
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