NOTE: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
The difference between the new Jane Eyre film and the BBC miniseries is analogous to the difference between reading a heavily abridged version of a book and the book itself. In both cases, you get the same story, which is to say you get the same sequence of events and the same conclusion. But only the full version contains the most essential ingredient of any good story–immersion. It’s hard to lose yourself in a summary of a film, and sadly, that is exactly what the new Jane Eyre feels like. We are told, not shown that Jane and Mr. Rochester are in love–after all, he must love her because he is proposing to her. The proposal feels like a forced contrivance designed to move the movie forward to the next scene. In the BBC version, it feels liek a natural extension of all that has gone before, because the BBC production does a much better job of fleshing out its characters, of making it feel like they are in love.
Perhaps it is unfair to compare the two. After all, the BBC version is more than twice as long as the movie, and so obviously it has a huge advantage. It’s understandable it;’s going to be a little more fleshed-out. But there is one aspect of the story in particular that was unforgivably abridged in the new version of Jane Eyre. So rather than going on all day about all the ways the old Jane Eyre was superior, I’m going to focus on just one thing, possibly my favorite part of the story–Mr. Rochester’s wife.