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Movie Review

Jane Eyre

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements including a nude image and brief violent content.

Reviewed by: Angela Bowman

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Romance Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 1 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 11, 2011 (select theaters)
DVD: August 16, 2011
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TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer

sin in the Bible

fall of man

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer


forgiveness of sin

Jane frequently prays and calls on God to assist her.

Belief in God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

Belief in hell

Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer

Why was Hell made? Answer

Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer

What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer

How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer

Are you going to Heaven?
Are you going to Heaven? Are you SURE you know the answer this extremely important question? Or have you made some common wrong assumptions? Find out now!

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

“Jane Eyre” is based on a novel (Wikipedia)

Featuring: Michael Fassbender—Edward Rochester
Mia Wasikowska—Jane Eyre
Jamie Bell—St. John Rivers
Imogen Poots—Blanche Ingram
Judi Dench—Mrs. Fairfax
Sally Hawkins—Mrs. Reed
more »
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Producer: Christine Langan—executive producer
more »
Distributor: Focus Features

“What is your tale of woe?” Orphaned? Abused? Abandoned by your family? Unloved? Jane Eyre may claim not to have one, but you may think otherwise; watching her life unfold before your eyes, through tragedy, heartache and dashed hopes. Yet, Charlotte Brontë’s classic tale is not about a life of misery, it is instead about the spirit of determination, perseverance and love of one Jane Eyre. In fact, the admiration for this character far overshadows the pity one might have for her, as she inspires us with her abundance of kindness, compassion and forgiveness, balanced with a strength and resilience of enviable measure.

Surviving physical and emotional abuse by her relatives and later the administration of the equally horrid Lowood school, Jane escapes when she is offered a position as governess to a young French girl at Thornfield Hall, after advertising her services. Mystery ensues as strange events unfold and the dark and moody master of the house, Mr. Rochester, is revealed while the most unlikely and unusual of love stories is found.

Not unfamiliar with the screen, “Jane Eyre” has been brought to life numerous times, and, while this version may not surpass the best, it is certainly to be held amongst them. Mia Wasikowska (“Alice In Wonderland”) is a tremendous Jane (as an actress would have to be to embody such a character), supported by the finest of actors, including Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax and Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester. Some may also recognize Tamzin Merchant of the 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice.”

The character of Jane Eyre is most intriguing and exemplary. While she is outwardly mostly reserved and submissive, recognizing her place in that time in both rank and sex, she is not afraid to stand up for herself when she feels tremendous injustice or disrespect; and her inward strength, intelligence and passion for life speaks loudly, even when her voice does not.

1 Corinthians 7:17 says, “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (NIV).

Jane never uses her misfortune as an excuse to do wrong, neither does she count herself misfortunate (displaying content in every situation, Philippians 4:12-13), but rather it seems to make her more loving and compassionate towards others and forgiving in the most difficult of circumstances. (Matthew 5:44—“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and Colossians 3:13—“Bear with each other and forgive one another, if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”)

While Jesus is never directly mentioned in the film, Christian living and influence of the time is apparent in the mealtime prayers and moral standards. The most difficult scenes for me to watch were the ones in which she became a resident of Lowood, a boarding school for girls which strictly condemned the smallest imperfection as sin, in cruel and harsh ways, without the love we are supposed to have. I can’t imagine the kind of damage this has done in real life to countless people (including the author, who drew from her own experience) and how it must pain and disappoint God to be so misrepresented, particularly when the victims are children. Thankfully, our ray of light during this time is Jane’s only friend Helen, who encourages Jane, telling her in the end that she is happily going to God.

In my mind, “Jane Eyre” is the story of faith, hope and, ultimately, a quest for love, causing it to be a sometimes haunting, yet beautiful interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” 1 Cor. 4:13.

While possible offensive content is minor, parents may want to consider that some of the serious themes (including death, the subject of which being somewhat prevalent) may be too advanced for very young audiences.

Violence: A child is hit and blood trickles down her forehead. A bloody wound (the aftermath of an attack) is shown.

Sexual Content: A classical picture of a nude woman and child is shown twice, the second time up close and focused on the woman. A married man asks Jane to live as his wife, however she declines on moral grounds and respect for herself. There are multiple scenes of kissing, some lingering and passionate, yet modest.

Language: one instance of “what the devil”

Hell, as a place, is briefly discussed in attempts to frighten young Jane into submission. A story is told about a ghost who “sucks your blood.”

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I’ve seen several versions of Charlotte Brontë’s classical novel, and this is by far the best adaptation I’ve seen. The movie was beautifully filmed and the actors were marvelous. Many of the scenes actually mimicked the the images I had conjured in my mind while reading. I found Mr. Rochester’s character to be particularly convincing. His manner was exactly as I believe Charlotte Brontë would have intended.

While some may complain about some of the details left out due to time restraints, I believe that on the whole this film captured to the spirit of the novel wonderfully. In addition, it was a very clean film with high moral standards.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Elanor, age 20 (USA)
Positive—I love Regency/Victorian literature, and I occasionally watch films based on such literature. I really enjoyed this movie, and I felt that Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska had excellent chemistry as Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, respectively. I loved the scenery and the Victorian-Gothic backdrop, which gave the film an authentic feel.

I liked how the film presented Jane’s background as flashbacks rather than in chronological order from the book (which I had read previously as a teenager). This was better than the 1940s version featuring Orson Welles as Mr. Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre (but still a good film, nonetheless).

My only problem was that a couple of kissing scenes were a little too intense for my tastes, but other than that, everything is awesome.

It’s a great movie for teens and adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Positive—I loved this movie and definitely want to buy it when it comes out. It was exciting, despite already knowing the story. It was, also, beautiful to look at and listen to. Jane and the true nature of all the characters were left intact and not given modern updates. The acting, writing, directing, and cinematography were excellent. However, I do think the kisses were overly passionate. If this is your weak point, it might be better not to watch.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nikki, age 25 (USA)
Positive—This film was EXCELLENTLY done. It was clean, it was romantic, it was as true to the book as it could be in the timeframe, it was captivating, and it was entertaining. Yes, there was a somewhat unnecessary lingering on a painting of a naked woman and her breasts, and, yes, the kissing scenes were sometimes unnecessarily passionate. These are my two reservations and why I had to remove half a star and rate it “Good” morally rather than “Excellent”. I don’t do this because I am trying to be a prude, it is only because I know firsthand how hard it can be to keep your heart and mind pure before God—especially as a single person—when faced with images of intense passion and sexuality on the big screen, and I hate to think of young women being lulled into fantasy and possibly into sin by watching this otherwise excellent romantic movie. It really was excellent though.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Angela, age 26 (Canada)
Positive—I love this movie! While it does contain some changes, I think it accurately portrays the feel of the book and the heart and soul of Mr. Rochester and Jane. It’s well done, with a beautiful soundtrack and cinematography, as well as excellent performances by the actors. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender were well cast as Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Ms. Wasikowska (and Amelia Clarkson as the younger version) carried off the “plain,” virtuous, and strong Jane, while also conveying a woman capable of deep feelings and passion. Mr. Fassbender, while certainly not ugly, captured Mr. Rochester’s brooding, magnetism, and intensity, the feel of a man tortured by secrets. The other actors, including Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, and Sally Hawkins, well rounded the cast. The only real downside is the nude painting; I didn’t even understand the point of that scene. Despite it, though, I highly recommend this film; I think it is going to be one of my favorite British period dramas.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sarah C., age 20 (USA)
Positive—Having read Mrs. Gaskell’s magnificent biography of Charlotte Brontë, I was thrilled to see Jane Eyre. I would have to say that the film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel. The acting, production design and screenplay are all top notch. “Jane Eyre” is my favorite film of the year, thus far. In her biography, Mrs. Gaskell makes reference to William Makepeace Thackeray and other renowned literary figures and gives the modest Miss Brontë her proper place in the pantheon of the literary figures of her day. The film captures the timeless charms of a classic romantic novel.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Morris, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Although, in my opinion, this movie wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be… I still really liked it. The plot never strayed far from the book, and the actors were all very well cast. I’m not sure what exactly was missing; maybe I just love the book so much that no movie could live up to my expectations. Never the less, this was a good film.

If you’re looking for a well-acted, creepy Jane Austen-ish type story, it would be a good rent. I’m not really sure why it was rated PG-13; the only possible reasons are lots of emotional turmoil and a shot of a nude painting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative—…This version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel is intriguing, to say the least. The technique of telling most of the story as a flashback is a bold move, but honestly, I found it to be distracting. The score by Dario Marianelli (“Pride and Prejudice”) is excellent, and there are some good moments between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Unless you know the story very well (and I’ve read the novel several times, the last one being around six months before this version came out, so I do know the story very well), you will find yourself asking, “What exactly is going on here?” Plus, there are a lot of moments from the novel which are cut out from this adaptation that are present in other film versions, notably the 1983 version starring Timothy Dalton (which is my personal favorite).

For instance, Adele’s backstory is merely hinted at, and Mr. Rochester’s climactic scene with Jane is nowhere near as dramatic as in the 1983 version. Plus, I found Ms. W.’s Australian accent very distracting (Jane Eyre is English, according to the book). I recommend this movie only for people who know the story very well; otherwise, you’ll probably think that the original novel is boring and thereby close yourself off to some of the greatest literature ever written. This version should have been rated PG.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—D, age 26 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I viewed this film today with my mum. We both thoroughly enjoyed the film and thought that it was a good adaptation, particularly as the whole story was squeezed into the space of about two hours. The chemistry between Jane and Mr Rochester was very good.

As for possible offensive content: There was a painting of a naked woman which was shown twice but it wasn’t very detailed. But that is all that I can recall which may cause offence. Personally, I do not think that this film is suited to anyone below the age of 12, due to a knife wound which was quite gruesome and the horror of what Jane goes through when she is young, for example; the death of her friend, when she is hit and her head bleeds etc.

But I do not see any reason why a Christian above this age should not go and see this film and I would highly recommend it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Abigail, age 17 (United Kingdom)