Jane Eyre (UK - BD)
Marcus is mean to Jane Eyre but she keeps coming back for more in HD...
Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is a plain girl with a childhood full of upset. With both of her parents dead and her aunt and family treating her badly, Jane spends much of her life in the Lowood School for Girls (which isn’t a much better place to be). Learning French, her skills are suddenly required at Thornfield Hall, where she is to be the governess to a young French girl, Adele. However when the brooding master of the house, Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender) befriends Jane and the two begin to form a stronger relationship, Rochester's hidden past becomes more apparent within the walls of Thornfield Hall.
This latest adaptation of Jane Eyre decides to mix it up a bit. Beginning about midway through the story, we meet Jane as she is found wandering the moors and is taken in by St. John (Jamie Bell). Here Jane begins to remember her childhood and the story that leads to her meeting Rochester and leaving Thornfield Hall. This is a new approach to the classic but it doesn’t really do much to lift the fairly flat mood of the period drama.
To be clear, I like the story of Jane Eyre and I liked how this version of it was approached. The gothic horror sensibilities were highlighted, and sometimes well but for a project that seemed happy to mix things up and heighten the darker elements of the story this felt quite typical when all was said and done. The performances were okay but never outstanding with Mia Wasikowska giving Jane Eyre a believable backbone and Michael Fassbinder doing the broody master of the house a good turn but as with most adaptations of classic literature there isn’t much in the way of difference between this and previous adaptations. There’s not much more focus on character traits or plot angles the screenwriter or director may have felt differently about, to other versions out there (though I guess this one plays it a little darker from time to time) and nothing within the characters' interactions seemed fresh either. In fact this two hour movie didn’t really take advantage of the big screen makeover at all, with the majority of the film feeling like a slightly better polished version of recent TV adaptations. For fans of the book, this offers up a slightly new way of telling the story within its structure but everything else is as expected.
The opening scenes with Jane travelling the moors have a beautifully wide feeling 1.85:1 transfer. Everything is quite stormy in colour but well detailed and the epic feel of the story's backdrop is felt.
Moving through the film it's the warm firelit scenes, bathed in orange against deep blacks that is this transfer at its best but everything else is decidedly drab but this is the visual design as opposed to a failing on the disc's part. There is a nicely textured look to the film but colours are quite pale often disguising some of the crisper visuals within the naturally lit sets and locations.
Exterior scenes can look very pretty under the right lighting conditions but the greyness that hangs over most scenes really stops this one from showing off in the HD arena unless you go looking for highlights. Darker scenes can come with softer edges and the grain steps up a little bit from time to time giving the images a slighter grubbier look but shadows generally remain deep giving the tranfer the edge on standard definition options.
Bassy thunder, a bird burting out of a bush and Rochester's horse are the big moments on the largely quiet track. Otherwise it's only the tender score with sharp strings adding to the emotional power of the piece that raises the film off of its even keel.
The dialogue is naturally placed in the mix with a realistic echo to the voices in the larger rooms in the film. Ambience can sometimes subtly fill out scenes with wind sneaking through trees, tweeting birds and the shuffling of background characters often giving the rear speakers a slight workout but generally this is a quiet film, with some creepy elements and a well placed score carrying the weight of the drama. It never shows off but it is a pretty great audio presentation really.
The commentary with director Cary Fukunaga is very technical track regarding scenes and sequences. Details about sets and performances and his approach to the story are the order for most of the track and being a solo affair there's plenty of silence between subjects.
There are a handful of deleted scenes (16:52 HD) and most of the other extras are very short indeed. 'A Look Inside Jane Eyre' (03:42 HD) is a simple EPK. 'To Score Jane Eyre' (02:14 HD) looks at Dario Marianelli's score with Fukunaga discussing the approach he and his composer took to the music in the film.
'The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre' (01:52) looks at the natural lighting and the style of the film with a big use of candles, fireplaces and gaslights.
Lastly there's the BD Live selection and a DVD which includes the digital copy, which wraps up this 'Triple Play' edition of Jane Eyre.
A bigger cinematic backdrop, some strong actors and a slightly darker mood doesn't do much to raise this film from simply being another version of Jane Eyre. The disc's drab looks hides many of the highlights the transfer offers but they are there and though the audio presentation is subtle, it too has its moments. As for the extras, they are a bit of a stinker with a fairly bland commentary track and some super short EPKs.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 12th March 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS Digital Surround 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell
Genre: Drama and Romance
Length: 120 minutes
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