Under The Radar – Jane Eyre (2011)

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Joe Giambrone
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Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel of the same name is brought to life using modern cinematography, set design and all the accoutrements of today’s filmmaking.  The stunning Mia Wasikowska is actually tamped down a few notches and plained up to become the average Victorian governess character.

What is truly remarkable about both the film and the novel is the political spine embedded throughout the story.  Written prior to Marx’s Manifesto, this class-conscious tale of equality and gender parity is an historical achievement.  It was written under a pseudonym and viciously attacked by the Victorian arbiters of taste and decency.

Jane originates from a “tale of woe” as was common and expected.  What isn’t common or expected is her unflinching sense of equality with men and her attitudes toward class and the inherent inequities in the power relations which govern society.  Jane seeks perfect parity, to transcend the class boundaries which restrain people, and to become a true equal.  The plot evolves toward a turn of fate and Jane the governess becoming an equal with a lord of the manor.  As he falls, she rises, and she even surpasses her lover in both class and capability.

There is much to think on concerning the power struggles between men and women, employers and employees, the rich and their servants.  As a governess, Jane held the position of an in-between free agent.  She wasn’t part of the servant class, and was more highly educated than those would-be peers.  Nor was she accepted as part of the ruling class, and clearly not a part of the family dynasties, which controlled the wealth and decision-making.  This left Jane as a disembodied entity, not truly attached to either class and able to float away at a moment’s notice.  With her skills and knowledge, she is able to survive elsewhere and be fulfilled in simply teaching children.

A wild card element enters though, that of passion and love.  As determined and true to herself, Jane is still a budding young woman.  Wrapped up in the societal mores and religious diktats of the time, Jane is in constant conflict with her own emotions, her aspirations, her sense of daring and her moral code.

I’m glad the film was so realistically presented with plausible characters and a story worth telling.  That it brings to life a deeply-felt idea about equality and sharing is a bonus.

 

 

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