Wednesday, July 09, 2008

now THAT is a postmodern Rochester

One of the critics of the first production of my JANE EYRE complained that Rochester was played, at least initially, in a "postmodern" way. My best guess as to why she believes this is because unlike most other portrayals of Rochester, this one was not completely over the top, more like Heathcliff than the Rochester of the original novel, which is the unfortunate choice that too many actors/directors make.

But I just caught Franco Zeffirelli's version of "Jane Eyre" starring William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg and I have finally seen the true meaning of postmodern. In the big proposal scene, Rochester says to Jane: "don't struggle so, you're like a wild bird clawing at its cage."

But as Hurt is delivering these lines, both he and Gainsbourg are standing face to face, stock still. She made a movement, prior to that, to get away, but not while he is telling her not to struggle.

The only thing I can think of is that he is telling her to stop struggling with the situation IN HER MIND.

Now that is truly postmodern.

You can watch it here - about minute 4:12 on the youtube clip.

I have a ton of other complaints about this adaptation (as usual) - having the characters speaking almost entirely expositionally being the primary one.

Although I do note with approval that Zeffirelli has Bertha/Antoinette set fire to Thornfield Hall immediately after Jane leaves - well actually, that happens in my version, in his version she sets fire at the very moment Jane is leaving - and in broad daylight too (grumble grumble.)

Zefferelli also has Grace Poole die, although in my version I have Bertha/Antoinette kill her, Zeffirelli has her fall from the top of the stairs.

At least Zeffirelli doesn't leave out the all-important inheritance aspect of the narrative. Unlike the accursed Teale adaptation.

Finally, while Gainsbourg and Hurt are movie stars, and the actors in the 2008 production of my JANE are not, my actors were far sexier and more exciting as Jane and Rochester than the movie stars were in those roles. And I thought Zeffirelli was supposed to be such a hotshot director.