Friday, September 20, 2013

Regarding my nemesis, Mr. Rochester ...

This year, ye olde second year of my master's degree program, I am going to be writing my thesis on Jane Eyre! I have therefore decided -- maybe a little erroneously, but shh! -- that it totally counts as schoolwork to just obsess over Jane Eyre all day all the time madly and constantly! That is how the serious academics roll, right?

I feel you, way-too-foxy Rochester. (p.s. Check out
if you want some period piece hilarity and snark in your life.)
As such, I've decided to get into the Jane Eyre state of mind by watching different screen adaptations. My favorite by a mile is the 2006 miniseries with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens, which, to me, captures an understanding of the novel and the characters of Jane and Rochester that no other adaptation that I've seen has. It seems like often, film adaptations get so bogged down in the Gothic doom-'n-gloom aspect of the story that it's forgotten that Jane and Rochester are both very quick-witted and snarky people. The Wilson/Stephens adaptation allows the story more of the humor and light of the novel than adaptations generally do. Also, I am just convinced that nobody (except for The Autobiography of Jane Eyre's freaking wonderful Alysson Hall) can match the absolute 100% Janeness of Ruth Wilson's portrayal.

But I am not here to discuss that adaptation! Nope, I want to talk about the one I just watched, which is the 1996 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It has some stuff going for it: the scenery's great, Rochester is -- true to book canon -- not a super hot hunky hunk, Adele's a wonderful gem and actually gets shown some affection by Jane and Rochester. But it also commits the e(y)r(e)ror of condensing, like, the last half of the novel into 20 minutes.

Yes, I just tried to make 'eyreror' happen. Let's all just move on gracefully past that. Unless you think it's witty, masterful, and hilarious. Then, sure, take a minute to laugh it out!

Anyway! What really got me grumpy about this adaptation is that it cut straight from the scene where Rochester and Jane profess their love to their wedding day. And all that stuff that happens in between is so important, and yet often glossed over by adaptations.

The impediment to Jane and Rochester's relationship isn't the fact that he has a secret wife up in the attic. The impediment is the fact that Rochester is the kind of person who would keep a secret wife up in the attic.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oh yes. Now then. What is that phrase you use? Once upon a time ...

School is again upon me, and with it, lots of work I could always be doing! Which means procrastination has become extra important, and today I am going to procrastinate by talking about one of my very favorite movies: Ever After.

When it comes to my favorite genres, 'fairytale retelling' is way up there on the list. It's a genre I've spent a lot of time in myself writing-wise, and I hope to hang out there a lot more for years to come! And Ever After is one of those fairytale retellings where I dream, one day, of writing one as lovely and thoroughly good. It is basically the film equivalent of Ella Enchanted. (Perhaps even more so than the actual film adaptation of Ella Enchanted, which I have to confess I have never watched in full.)

Reading More's Utopia for my Utopian Studies literature class this semester seemed as good a reason as any for another Ever After rewatch! (Way to go, Thomas More. It's possible that at the part about society making thieves and then punishing them, I scribbled "omg Ever After!! <3" in my margin notes. As serious intellectuals do!) And it is just such a good film, lovely and thoughtful and clever and sweet, which is exactly my favorite kind of story.

I don't often see this movie discussed, so I figured I'd just devote a bit of time to explaining the things I love about it. Because having giddy feelings about fiction is what I do best!

I really admire how this movie takes the Cinderella archetypes -- the sweet girl and her relentlessly awful stepfamily -- and really gives careful time and consideration to their characterization. It's one of those qualities that kinda makes me feel like this movie is based on a book; there's such a sense of wholeness and nuance to the way it approaches its characters. Like, look at this film, and then look at, say, Snow White and The Huntsman (which I really enjoy as a film too, for different reasons, but OH MAN, my kingdom for a screenplay with actual depth to its characterization, rather than just tons of potential).