Every once in a while I come across a movie so wonderful that I have to share it with friends. Cinema Paradiso is one of those movies. Another is the latest version of Jane Eyre, produced as a miniseries for the BBC and starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester. For those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, it’s an atmospheric, gothic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the heroine of which is a plain, intelligent and passionate young woman who works as a governess for the mysterious Mr. Rochester, with whom she falls in love.
Although I had some initial reservations with the Wilson/Stephens version, (“How could the screenwriter have omitted that! Toby Stephens is way too good looking to play Mr. Rochester!”), those reservations were overcome by Wilson’s expressive Jane and Stephen’s flirtatious Rochester. Although there are many wonderful moments, one of my favorites is when Rochester asks: “Do you think me handsome, Jane?” To which Jane promptly replies: “No sir.” Another is the scene in which Jane rails against his anticipated marriage to the superficial Blanche, after which Rochester . . .
Ok, I can't reveal any more than that lest I spoil your viewing experience. You'll just have to watch it yourself.
The miniseries is so wonderful I decided I had to share it with two friends, and I had them over for a “girls’ night in.” I was worried, though: one had read the book more than 10 times. Would she like it? Or would she be put off by some of the liberties taken by the screenwriter and director? I shouldn’t have worried. Both of them loved it, both were in tears at the end. Like me, they felt it was true to the spirit of the book, which is ultimately a love story of equals.
If you’ve never read Jane Eyre, or if you’ve tried to read it and been put off by the style—it was published in 1847—check out the DVD at the library. My own introduction to the story was in fact the Joan Fontaine/Orson Welles movie, and after seeing it I went straight from the movie house to the nearest bookstore to buy the book. (But you can get it at your library!) Although I had tried to read it when I was twelve and given up, this time I loved it. There was no way I could not finish the book, so enamored was I with the story I’d seen onscreen.
Watch it, read it, share it with your friends!