I just finished watching the first episode of the new Jane Eyre that's running right now on Masterpiece Theatre. I only became a Jane fan a few years ago when I reread the book after reading The Eyre Affair. Since then I've been making a hobby of watching film versions of Jane. I think this is the third, but I have to admit they can run together after a bit.
This version, though, is a standout. Other productions I've seen were pretty much just actors walking through parts. In this one, though, we see a little more about what's going on with the characters--not through dialogue, but just through the way the actors behave. You can see Jane falling in love with Rochester. You can see Rochester repulsed by the carryings on of Blanche Ingram and her family. You can see Rochester and Jane laughing at one another's jokes, enjoying one another's company.
The first part of Jane Eyre isn't my favorite part of the book. (Is it anyone's?) In fact, it almost seems to be a different story. But this television production links it to the romance at the core of the novel. When the Ingram family is carrying on about how awful governesses are, Jane flashes back to her evil aunt and the types of things she used to say to the young Jane. The Ingram abuse is nothing new to her.
Another thing--Jane draws, and in the book she draws sea scenes. This struck me as odd, because she had never been to the ocean. At the time we see her doing her drawings, she had never been away from the boarding school she attended. This film version takes care of that little drawback but, again, not with dialogue. We simply see Jane looking at illustrations in books. That's where she gets her knowledge of scenery she's never been near herself.
The weird gypsy scene from the book is revised here to make more sense. I know there are those who would say you shouldn't mess with a classic, but I do think this is an improvement on the original.
Rochester is probably too young and good looking in this production, but I'm definitely not going to complain about having to watch a youngish, good-looking guy.
I'm definitely looking forward to part two.