I saw this film a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday I went to Cheltenham Literature Festival and I saw the screen writer, Moira Buffini, talk about how she adapted this work of classic literature to the screen. Having now heard how she made the decisions that she did, it has made me want to return to the film to see it with new eyes.
For lovers of the novel, please don't come to this film expecting everything to be the same. As Moira explained, trying to condense a novel of 500 odd pages into a two hour film, you have to realise that some things are going to have to be sacrificed or altered slightly. Also, as the novel is told in the first person narrative style, a screen writer has the unenviable task of puttin into images what is going on internally for the main character. As Moira said, showing a young woman crying in a garden has a completely different feel to showing a crying woman on a moor. Without giving too much away, Moira decided to begin the film with Jane fleeing Thornfield, so that we are then pulled straight into her story. In this way, we see that Jane is a mystery to the Rivers family, but also we see her as being emotionally open to us. Moira also explained why she chose to use so little of the scenes with Bertha that they shot - if you see the film, you will notice that Bertha does not appear very much at all. As Moira explained, Bertha was not known to Jane; she only became fully aware of her existence when she marries Rochester. Also, she wanted to present Bertha as a mad woman, not a monster.
I really enjoyed this adaptation. It is certainly refreshing to see actors of the right age playing the roles of Rochester and Jane. Do not come to this film expecting it to be exactly like the novel - it can't be. But is a damn good adaptation.