Watching But Not Reading: Limitations of First-Person Narrative in Film Adaptations of Jane Eyre

analytical Essay
1272 words
1272 words

Film adaptations of literature tend to have a bad reputation. As Brian McFarlane observes in “It Wasn't Like That in the Book...”, viewers are more likely to come out of a theater after viewing an adaptation griping about what was different or better in the book than by commenting about the film in its own right (McFarlane 6). It is rare for such films to be judged as films in their own right, and often viewers aren't looking for an adaptation inspired by the novel, but rather a completely faithful representation of the original work, in film form. However, not only is this not always possible due to time limitations, but it also overlooks all of the things possible in film that are impossible on the written page. Wendy Everett points out in “Reframing Adaptation”, that film is much more than just plot and simple narrative, with filmmakers being able to utilize “ the rhythms and nuances of the dialogue, of course, but also the film's visual images and cadences, the camera’s angels and rhythms, and the internal dynamic between and within each shot” in their storytelling (Everett 153). While literature is bound to the printed word, film is capable of creating an entire visual and audible world in which a story unfolds. Despite these additional tools at their disposal, filmmakers are faced with a distinct challenge when it comes to adapting literature with a first person narrative voice. Cinema is typically presented from a third person point of view- only a handful of films have been made using only a first person perspective due to the visual limitations and disorientation it can cause (Willmore). In cases such as Charlotte Brontё's Jane Eyre, a novel framed as an autobiography, the first person narrative voice is important, but the disorienting first person approach would not be suitable for the genre. Jane's internal thoughts and musings are central to the

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that film adaptations of literature tend to have a bad reputation, as brian mcfarlane observes in "it wasn't like that in the book...", which is rare for such films to be judged as films in their own right.
  • Explains that filmmakers are faced with a distinct challenge when it comes to adapting literature with first person narrative voice.
  • Analyzes the disconnect between viewers and jane through an analysis of examples from both the 1943 and 2011 film adaptations of jane eyre.
  • Analyzes how the 1943 film adaptation of jane eyre, directed by robert stevenson and starring joan fontaine and orson welles, uses the cover and title pages of the book to stand in for opening credits.
  • Analyzes how the scene of jane being punished for her behavior at lowood reveals a lot about her mind and character.
  • Analyzes how a small figure emerges on the stairs, bathed in light, suggesting godliness and purity of spirit. helen is quiet as she approaches, not making her presence known until she is very near.
  • Analyzes how jane insists that she is not a liar, but snaps in anger as she loudly announces her hatred for mr. brocklehurst.
  • States that hall, phil, "jane eyre." film threat, 24 nov. 2011.

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