Just spent an interesting weekend viewing both a big-screen theater production and several videos. The initial offering was "Jane Eyre" which was playing at a very local arts theater. You know the type: low, saggy seats, lighting before the movie turned down so low that you can't see to find a place to sit, endless previews with ultra loud soundtracks (mostly in foreign languages), and a full contingent of Seniors looking for diversion, quiet, and a smattering of culture at bargain prices.
We chose the late afternoon showing which was probably a mistake since I was already hungry and the staff had just cranked out a new load of butter-drenched popcorn loaded with salt. The enticing scent of that popcorn and butter permeated both the theater and waiting area, but being mostly dietarily compliant, my partner and I dutifully took our places, empty handed except for our smuggled-in bottle water.
The main feature was "Jane Eyre," remembered by most of us as a high school reading assignment nightmare. At least that's my memory of my adolescent response to the weighty novel when it was assigned in the 11th or 12th grade. However, that was before I had visited Bronte Country in person a decade ago and breathed the smoky air from coal and peat fires, luxuriated in the glorious vistas of the West Yorkshire Pennines, and basked in the mists and filtered light of the rustic Borders' farms and pastures.
The movie's greatest strength for me was the care with which the photography was done, the precision of each scene or shot, and the inspired selection of locations where this very romantic story was filmed. The muted colors of the landscape and the creation of a really moist and somber Yorkshire atmosphere lent strong support to a story line which, on its face, felt to me (as a 2011 male) also to be somewhat damp, soft and limp.
The film is visually a marvel and, in that one regard at least, wonderful to watch. Judi Dench is at her best as Mrs. Fairfax, the Housekeeper of the estate of Lord Edward Rochester (played by Michael Fassbender whom I may or may not remember in "Inglourious Basterds"). Jane Eyre, cleverly and appropriately type cast, was played by Mia Wasikowska (who?) with understated elegance. The plot moves as slowly as a Scottish burn inching its way through an upland moor. There's not much action, adventure or excitement for those who crave it, but there's plenty of harsh and cruel psychological and emotional episodes. The film is more subtle than brash, more tender and about matters of the heart than about derring-do. For these reasons, my guess is that most women will appreciate this movie more than most men (not a sexist comment).
Unfortunately, the film is auditorily a problem for those of us who have hearing issues (even with aids) because of the Yorkshire accents and conversations which are often sotto voce, i.e., muted and private. Because I missed hearing more than half of the dialogue, I enjoyed this picture much less than my partner did (her hearing is fine, often too good). Consequently, for me the film was--overall--a stumbler. All things being equal, I would have rather seen the movie in high school than read the book; today, however, turning pages seems infinitely preferable.
A welcome to readers
As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime: