Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Film Review: Jane Eyre

Image from IMDB

"Sir, you are the most phantom-like of all."

Director: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender

I don't really know how to start this review. The first time I ever came into contact with the story of Jane Eyre would have been in 2006 when the BBC version starring Toby Stephens screened on Channel 2. I remember they split it into two parts so that they could tell the whole story in detail, and in the interceding week, I bought the cheapest copy of the novel I could find and tried to speed read it because I HAD to know what happened. All in all, that version would have been about four hours long. This movie was not, it was about two hours.

The film starts in the middle, with Jane fleeing Thornfield and falling in with the Rivers' family. She relives her life in flashbacks, first to Gateshead, then to Lowood and then Thornfield, thus neatly splitting the stages of Jane's triumph whilst simultaneously minimizing the boring bit at the end before she is reunited with Rochester. But not only has the structure been changed from the original novel, a lot has also been either cut or severely curtailed. Blanche Ingram plays barely a passing role. There is no scene in which Rochester pretends to be a fortune teller. St.John Rivers is not in love with his benefactor's daughter because she does not exist. I found the pace of this movie incredibly strange. At times, the scenes were so short and expedient. At others, there seemed to almost be this 1960s perfume ad quality to it, in which Jane wanders through the garden and looks over her shoulder at the camera and touches the pretty flowers. In fact, if you ask Elisa, of the JustElisa blog, she would tell you that the movie is Pretty itself.

The scenery really was fantastic. I had flashbacks to the Secret Garden. And I think they used the same Thornfield exterior as in the BBC version.

Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre was... well let's put it this way, it's very hard to identify with Jane anyway because she is not cuddly. You don't want to be her best friend and stay up all night giggling and plaiting her hair. But in a movie, where there is no interior monologue to help you get to know an unemotional character it's even harder to love her. I think Wasikowska did a very faithful representation of Jane for that reason. But she's not my favourite. Nor was Fassbender my favourite Rochester, because that's still Toby Stephens. At times, his Rochester was not only grumpy and changable, but violent. The scene in which he begged Jane to live with him in sin almost seemed like a rape scene. I didn't think she was crying because she loved him, I thought she was crying because she was scared.

And this is the first adaptation in which I have thoroughly disliked Mrs. Fairfax at times. She could be a downright b-i-t-c-h sometimes. At others, you could feel sorry for her, like when Rochester insults her while she's still in the room. But she almost seemed creepy when she turned up in the ruins of Thornfield in time to meet Jane.

I was also extremely disappointed that Eliza and Georgiana never had their big blew. While a lot of the more comedic moments (i.e. when Jane tells the man from Lowood that the way to avoid Hell is not to die) were kept, and faithfully kept, some of the most memorable moments were slightly off.

All in all, I think it's probably not a fantastic version if you are a purist...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Saving the Children One Box of Books At A Time

Look at the top of this webpage. You might notice something is missing. It is the ten to one rule tab! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I have officially fallen off the non-book buying wagon. (I should really be in BBA...)

But in my defence, it was for a very good cause.

All this weekend and also Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday too, Save the Children have been and will be set up in Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australia. If you live in Perth or if you happen to be stopping by, give it a quick peruse through. I can reassure you, there are a lot of Jane Austen novels, for a start. Too bad I own all those already, huh? I managed to pick up 9 books at a stealish price of $41. That should keep me busy for a while!!

[Thanks very much to Debbycakes for letting me know this was even on! And thanks to History Boy for going with me and carrying my box of books even though he was clearly bored out of his mind!]

Find out more.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Why Write?

It's been a rather uneventful August.

I've just finished my third week of the Semester. This time around, I am doing three history units rather than two literature and only ONE history. This means it is the first semester that I haven't had around ten novels to read and report on. It also means it is the only semester where I have been surrounded soully by academic writing.

For me, this is somewhat overwhelming.

However, after a bit of grumbling (read: a lot of grumbling...) I have decided to use this to my advantage. I have decided not to just LIKE being a history major, but to LOVE it.

The three units I am doing this semester are all very different. One is about power; it is about the fall of various regimes and rulers, and is organised down thematic lines. One is about Twentieth Century America but it uses Hollywood films as a way to make it a little more fun. Today we watched Birth of a Nation. This is actually about the opposite of my definition of fun, but we'll let it slide just this once.

Another requires me to be a detective and 'solve' Historical Mysteries. We've just covered the Franklin Expedition, which has actually given me an idea for a story that I am rather excited about.

But all that doesn't really leave a lot of time for writing. Each week I have to do a lot of reading, and true to nerd form, I also take notes and answer study guide questions. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID I ANSWER THEM. Luckily, I am a member of a very supportive writing group. But lately, since around about July the 31st, I have had rather crippling writers' block. (Or is it writer's... i can never work that one out.)

There are a number of possible causes.

1) I have burnt myself out like a lightglobe. Peaked too young. I will now descend into hack-dom.

2) History lessons have sapped my creativity.

3) There are no good ideas left in the world, or good sentence combinations that haven't already been used.

4) I am full of hot air and spend more time talking about writing than doing it. (Likely, I fear)

5) I never had any talent in the first place and a lot of people have lied to me.

6) I am so nervous about hearing back from a particular publication that stated that if I hadn't heard by Aug 31, I am not in, that I can't bear to try another piece or my little heart will break.


7) I have started writing for the wrong reasons.

I think it's probably a combination of all those reasons. Sad face.

So for now, I have decided to take some time to reflect on the process of writing, and why I love it. I am going to write some really bad fanfiction style stuff in my journal. I am going to take barefoot strolls on the lawn. I am going to read, read, read. And hopefully, I am going to cure myself. I don't want to be the kind of writer Proust was, rolling on the floor in agony because he couldn't think of a good synonym for nostalgia or something like that.

Most of all, I need to remember that I love to write. Writing has been the way that I have taught myself to be my own best friend. It's also been the way that I have taught myself to look at others. And it's important to me. I told a lot of people (tearfully) that I was going to quit this month and to those people, I would like to say thank you for your patience, and for not letting me give up. I also want to thank my Mum for her PERSPECTIVE, which she is never short of.

It's time to rest. But you'll hear from me again soon.