Movie Review: Classic tale thrives on screen

by Lori Cruz
Staff Writer

What do you get when you combine a popular American actor, a formidable Italian director, a few castles and a classic English romance?

A 1990s remake of “Jane Eyre,” of course.

Charlotte Bronte wrote this novel 150 years ago and her classic story of nobility, passion, responsibility and tenacity is still a powerful tale.

Anna Paquin emerges as the young Jane at Lowood Charity School (based on Bronte’s own schooling experience), who shows the audience immediately the courage and fiercely independent spirit that encompasses Jane Eyre.

As a young adult, Charlotte Gainsbourg appears as the painfully plain Jane, who successfully graduates from her life at Lowood to take a job as a governess at Thornfield Manor.

Her amazement at the beauty of the castle upon her arrival is evident with her deliberate articulation and movement in the scene.

Once at Thornfield Manor, Jane instructs the young Adele about art, music and other scholarly subjects. Adele, who is much like Jane, an orphan with a courageous will, is taken in by the bitter Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield Manor, played by William Hurt.

Hurt is surprisingly effective as the cantankerous Rochester, with a subtle, yet unique accent that also adds to the English tale.

Director Franco Zeffirelli uses the dim light and the shadowy darkness of Thornfield to bring out the charm of old England. The grounds of Thornfield are bright and bucolic which gives the darkness of the castle an eerie contrast. The music adds to the film a subtleness to the film that is extremely powerful and enhances the films momentum.

Soon into the film, the electricity between Jane and Mr. Rochester is sparked. Both characters glow with their own, severely independent spirits.

This movie has all the elements that allow the audience to be intrigued by the genuine quality of the film.

Along with the growing passion that envelopes Jane and Rochester, the movie has an edge of excitement with the gruesome servant, Grace, hiding a dark secret that lurks in the attic of Thornfield. The adventure grows with the attempted murder of a gentleman caller who comes to visit Rochester.

The pain that the characters endure throughout the picture, especially that of Mr. Rochester, are numbingly real and endearingly haunting.

Rochester’s acidic humor and curmudgeon brooding cannot hide his effortless nobility and commitment to Jane, Adele and himself.

This remake has all the spirit and flare, gloom and deceit that the novel portrays.

The actors give performances that enable the audience to, if not understand, appreciate the selflessness of lost souls who not only find one another, but thrive on their own independence.

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In your March 27, 1998, edition of the Campus Times, Angelica Martinez wrote an article entitled "Variety Show Reveals Hidden Talents." I was surprised to find out that the Black National Anthem had been changed from "Lift Every Voice" to "We Shall Overcome."
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