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Posts Tagged ‘Gemma Jones’

This is the 1997 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel.  Samantha Morton is the eponymous heroine, while Ciaran Hinds takes on the role of Rochester.  Unfortunately, I found this version disappointing.  Morton certainly looks right for Jane, and there is no doubt that both Morton and Hinds are accomplished actors.  However, I found myself wondering whether either of them were even familiar with the story or their characters.  Jane’s quiet strength, which shone through in the novel (and in certain adaptations) isn’t visible here – instead, the character is almost petulant and unpleasant to Rochester – and Rochester, such a layered and beautifully drawn person in the book – is nothing so much as a loud-mouthed bully in this version.  Hinds seems incapable of talking, and chooses to shout all of his lines.

Also, large parts of the book are cut out of the story.  I feel that this is the problem with trying to tell this story in a two hour film – it just can’t be done (which is probably why my favourite adaptation is unquestionably the mini-series from 2006, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens).  Even worse, the chopping of certain parts of the novel means that the film might seem disjointed to anyone who hasn’t read Jane Eyre.  The developing feelings between Jane and Rochester seems too sudden, and although the character of St John makes an appearance, it is short and irrelevant to the way the story unfolds in this version (and he isn’t related to Jane either).

It isn’t completely bad though.  Gemma Jones does a lovely job as Mrs Fairfax, and the scenery and photography looks lovely.  Overall though, this is worth watching only if you are trying (like me) to see all the adaptations of this novel. Otherwise, I would suggest skipping this version, and trying the 2006 mini-series.

Year of release: 1997

Director: Robert Young

Producers: Delia Fine, Sally Head, Greg Brenman, Hugh Warren

Writers: Charlotte Bronte (novel), Kay Mellor, Richard Hawley, Peter Wright

Main cast: Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds, Gemma Jones, David Gant

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Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 2006 mini-series.

Click here for my review of the 1996 film adaptation.

Click here for my review of the 1943 film adaptation.

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This 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, won Emma Thompson an Oscar for her screenplay.  It also garnered six further Oscar nominations, including Best Actress (Thompson) and Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet – although this is a mystery to me, as she was certainly part of the main cast, and not a supporting actor.  I imagine that Thompson and Winslet may have been put into different categories so that they did not end up competing with each other).

The basic storyline revolves around Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, two sisters who, after the death of their father, are forced to move with their mother and young sister Margaret, to a cottage.  The two very close but very different sisters fall in love with two very different men, but the path of love does not always run smoothly.

As well as Thompson and Winslet (who at the time was not the huge star that she subsequently became), the cast features an impressive array of actors – Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars – to whom Elinor finds herself attracted – Hugh Laurie, Imogen Stubbs and Imelda Staunton, amongst others.

There are some differences to the book, but I think the film is certainly in keeping with the spirit of Jane Austen’s novel.  The story is sensitively told, and there are some moving moments, as well as some comical ones.  It is also beautifully shot, with some gorgeous scenery, and a lovely soundtrack.

As expected from such a stellar cast, the acting is top notch, especially from Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Alan Rickman.  Kate Winslet also shows the talent which elevated her to A List status a few short years after this film was made.

Overall, I would highly recommend this film, especially for fans of Jane Austen, period films, or romantic stories.

Year of release: 1995

Director: Ang Lee

Producers: Sydney Pollack, Laurie Borg, Lindsay Doran, James Schamus, Geoff Stier

Writers: Jane Austen (novel), Emma Thompson

Main cast: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Gemma Jones, Imelda Staunton, Imogen Stubbs

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Click here for my review of the 2008 television mini series.

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