Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s iconic novel, has been dramatised countless times for both TV and the big screen. Almost every year brings with it another adaptation of this classic story and 2011 has been no exception. But what could have been just another copy-cat adaptation actually turned out to be pleasantly surprising. Bold, artistic and always true to its gothic roots, Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation is miles ahead of its predecessors.
Jane Eyre manages to tell Bronte’s story, but without blindly copying it. The film retells Charlotte Bronte’s classic tale of the orphaned and sorrow stricken Jane Eyre, following Jane through her childhood at the hands of her cruel Aunt, a spell at the strict Lowood boarding school and on to the life of a governess at Thornfield. But Fukunaga’s cleverly crafted sequences and reworked chronology make this well known story feel unfamiliar. The unusual starting point is one of the many things which set this film apart from previous adaptations. Jane Eyre surprises us by opening in the middle of the plot, with our protagonist escaping from Thornfield, running through the mist and attempting to seek comfort from the barren landscape.