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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essence of Jane and Bronte
Well, here's another BBC classic from the 1970s. The stars were favourable indeed during that period, and gave us high quality drama that can hold its head up proudly more than three decades on.

I don't want a 'celebrity' cast for my classics, I want good quality - and the likes of Michael Jayston, Sorcha Cusack, and the delightful Megs Jenkins were and are...
Published on 24 April 2010 by Green Knight

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A faithful account
This version is very true to the original story and the unfolding love between Jane & Rochester is allowed to mature slowly and smoulderingly, as it should. Sorcha Cusack is an appealing Jane, but I would have difficulty in believing her to be 'plain,obscure and small', because she is none of those things. I cannot agree with other viewers on the merits of Michael Jayston...
Published on 3 Sep 2006 by C. Gent


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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essence of Jane and Bronte, 24 April 2010
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
Well, here's another BBC classic from the 1970s. The stars were favourable indeed during that period, and gave us high quality drama that can hold its head up proudly more than three decades on.

I don't want a 'celebrity' cast for my classics, I want good quality - and the likes of Michael Jayston, Sorcha Cusack, and the delightful Megs Jenkins were and are among the very best in telly drama circles.

Who cares if the 'Jane Eyre' made in 1973 looks 'slightly old-fashioned' ? And anyway, what is meant by 'old-fashioned'? Is it that actors can speak properly ? Is it that the actors know how to wear their clothes properly, and how to move in them ? Is it that the script is allowed to use the dialogue in the original novel - and to let a scene develop for longer than thirty seconds ? If the answer is yes to any of these, then give me a 'slightly old-fashioned' effort any time. It serves the drama so much better.

I am also not really interested in the obsession with location filming that so often intrudes upon the telling of the story in favour of a bit of fast-cutting technology and a range of mountains. Yet again, it must be said that television drama (especially studio-based drama) is first and foremost electronic theatre, not poor man's cinema. And there is nothing at all wrong with that!

Why snipe at sets built in a studio ? They are what they are, well-built and well-lit - and none the worse for that. (The snipers would never take pot-shots at the feature-film equivalent, also constructed in a studio, probably because the mystique surrounding the film industry is so much greater; the craftsmanship in television is the same - it's only the lighting that's necessarily different to suit multi-camera shooting.) All right, the cups and saucers are the wrong period at one point, but ...

'Jane Eyre' is one of the delights still to be found in the BBC's catalogue. Sorcha Cusack as the plain mousy-quiet Jane is perfect casting - not pretty, but lovely in an enigmatic sort of way, and you can believe utterly that Mr Rochester finds her intriguing enough to fall in love with.

She for her part could not fail to be equally attracted to the moody, brooding, often tetchy Rochester, as played by Michael Jayston. He smoulders beautifully, and the two of them are a superb double-act. (Their bickering banter from the moment they meet is often very funny - not something one expects to find in a Bronte novel - and it is good that these scenes are allowed to develop and to speak for themselves. I wish someone had told me to find the laughs in the novel when I had to 'do it' at school.)

There is an excellent supporting cast of nice people and nasty people - as indeed you might expect - and there's plenty of doom and gloom (along with some spine-chilling shrieks and jabberings in the dark) to add the necessary dash of melodrama to this delightful love-story.

This is another must-have for vintage drama fans - or for anyone wanting a thoroughly enjoyable and often touching version of this Bronte classic. As with most of these superb older productions, it knocks spots off later attempts to enshrine Jane Eyre upon the small screen.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Jayston !!!, 15 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
As to the reviewers who gave 5 stars. This is the BEST and purest version of "Jane Eyre". Not only because of its perfect literally transcription - because of its marvelous actors! From the very beginning I was thrilled - and with Michael Jayston's entrance on the screen (as the best Rochester ever !!) the whole thing becomes breathtaking. His acting is brilliant. His Rochester is harsh, sardonic, cynical, mysterious, beaten from life and his heart is full love and tenderness. This is how we love our Edward Rochester. His performance is very next to the book.- And Jayston plays it all - without cheap tricks and seeking after effects. And through his acting I finally really understand ,why Jane is Rochester's equal, his likeness, his second self and WHY he is so absolutly desparate when they split. Jayston needs no pomp in acting, setting and musical support. He only uses his eyes and his wonderful voice to transport this wonderful story with all its hided feelings.
But don't forget Sorcha Cusack (daughter of the famous Cyril Cusack). Although often critizised -for me she is a perfect Jane Eyre: not a poor thing ("Hascherl" in AustroGerman!), but self-confident,eloquent, reserved, faithful, with a full heart. The perfect "counterpart" to Edward Rochester - on their search for love, comfort and care.
I like almost all of the other "Jane Eyre" Versions, especially the 2006-Toby-Stephens one. Every has its benefits and it is interesting HOW they tell (and develop) this immortal story.
But this "Jane Eyre" from 1973 is the ultimate BEST : clear, pure, without useless ornaments and shallow emotions.
With every viewing it gets better and better and better...
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG I loved it!!!!!!!!!!, 5 Oct 2006
This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
Ha! I've finally found the definitive version of Jane Eyre. After watching quite a few really awful versions, I have to say this is the one that does it for me. Admittedly slighly dated looking at times, but wow, wow, wow it's got everything! The very lines of the book are brought alive by the 2 fine main actors, and at last, a Rochester who isn't drop dead gorgeous but really works at the part he is portraying and has real charisma, style, wit, the lot. Don't be put off by the age of the production, it is still wonderful!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another rave review for this fantastic adaptation of Jane Eyre., 27 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
This adaptation of Jane Eyre is largely faithful to the book, very much so in parts, but that is not the main reason it succeeds so brilliantly. Ultimately it works because it is imaginatively involving and totally emotionally engaging; it captures the head and the heart. At the same time it has an intelligence that lends truth to what we witness - I believed every minute of what these characters went through.
When I read the book as a teenager I fell in love with my idea of Rochester. I fell in love with him all over again here only this time he was real, brought vividly to life. Michael Jayston's Rochester is harsh, unkind, surly and ill humoured yet charming, sweetly endearing, playful and very funny; he is grimly despairing, jaded, cynical and tormented with self disgust yet passionate, heartbreakingly optimistic and full of tender longing, he carries the heavy burden of years of bitter experience yet retains a youthful buoyancy, he is mysterious, strange, scary and above all incredibly sexy. And Jayston conveys all of this in such subtle and nuanced ways (mostly with his amazingly expressive eyes and a voice that seems to caress the listener) - a look, a smile, a `catch' in the voice, small gestures. He is completely mesmerising - just like Jane you find yourself watching him constantly. That the seduction takes time is important here - Jane's (and our) attraction to Rochester has to grow as she (and we) get to know him better. In many adaptations the urge to cast a heartthrob to play the part (Dalton, Stephens, Fassbender) can work against this development of the story. Rochester has to `grow on' Jane - engage her intellectually and emotionally, fascinate her - and it doesn't work well if you feel she has been distracted (as she surely would be) too early in the story by very obvious physical attractiveness and/or matinee idol good looks.
Every scene in which Rochester and Jane come together is a perfect drama in its own right full of character detail and the subtleties of interaction and reaction - making you want to watch them over and over again. The conversations can be vigorous - sharp, playful and full of humour. The one where he gives her money to fund her trip to the Reeds ("I will be your banker' and `you will walk up the pyramids of Egypt') is very funny indeed. In others the mood alters as the scene progresses - in one such encounter Jane tells Rochester she has no wish to `talk nonsense' and for a split second he is thrown - he answers her but it is the look on his face that speaks volumes - amused and impressed he regards her with such passionate intensity it is a miracle they both don't spontaneously combust! My favourite though is the scene in the garden after Mason has left; Jane and Rochester exhausted, whey faced and freezing in the early morning light - both now fully realising what they feel for each other, the obstacles to happiness (for him poor Bertha, for her Miss Ingram) and the pain to be endured. It is a pivotal scene in the novel and is perfectly realised here.
Michael Jayston is without doubt the star of the show but Sorcha Cusack is a fantastic Jane - calm, self-possessed, very sure of her own worth. Plain and demure as she is we are left in no doubt of the emotional effect Rochester has on her. He ignites a fire in her that flickers at first but then takes hold - it glows in her face and eyes accentuating the mischievous pixie like quality in her features (the references to elves and changelings is very apt here) - yet she also has at times the serene beauty of an early Renaissance Madonna. This Jane will reciprocate Rochester's passion but she will also help save his soul.

Cusack and Jayston are magnificent together - emotionally real, true to the period, totally convincing. In this production they barely need to speak never mind touch - it is all in their eyes. The supporting cast are almost all excellent especially the delightful child actress Isabel Rosin who plays Adele and Geoffrey Whitehead as St John Rivers - flint hard, a true tyrant in the making.
Aspects of this version are certainly dated - static camera work, the odd wobbly prop and both Jane and Rochester suffer from clumsy make up and bad hair. But the intelligence of the adaptation and the emotional impact of the performances haven't diminished one bit and this production, even after almost 40 years, is still utterly compelling.
It is a true work of art and I cannot recommend it too highly.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's such fun to watch, 4 Oct 2006
This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
This adaptation has got everything. It may look slightly dated now, but it is full of charm and wonderful performances so it is completely captivating. It is very faithful to the book, and Jayston and Cusack give truly exceptional performances. I can understand why so many people rave about it. There are some pretty good versions out there, but I always come back to this one, it has that extra something. Watch and enjoy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive adaptation, 26 April 2010
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J. C. Birchley (Wuerenlingen, AG Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
I saw this first as the televised miniseries, and was captivated. completely. Their character portrayals are superb, entirely credible, and when I bought and read the book I realised just how faithful it was to the novel - the story, yes, but especially mood and sentiment. A fine, well chosen supporting cast too.

Michael Jayston was an excellent Rochester, brilliantly balancing gruffness and sensitivity. Sorcha Csack, little known at the time was the perfect foil, outwardly inauspicious but portraying all of Jane's qualities. She was exactly as I would picture her from reading.

I spent years searching before I found it as DVD, but well worth the wait. As made for TV film it is naturally well suited to the small screen. I've seen several other productions, but for my money this is by far the best. The definitive adaptation.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous adaptation, 30 July 2006
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
This is a classic! A fabulously cast Jane and Rochester, marvellous acting, great chemistry, wonderful supporting cast, lovely touches of humour, what else can I say! This is an outstanding adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel, and the only one that really does it justice. It is much, much better than the 1983 version, which doesn't ever quite hit the mark. Also Tim Dalton is disastrously miscast as Rochester and Zelah Clarke is far too old looking and stilted in her portrayal of Jane. It doesn't sizzle like the 1973 version. Even after 30 years the Jayston Cusack version is still the best!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last...., 20 Jun 2006
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Dr. C. Lee - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
At last, after 33 years it has been worth the wait.

I saw the original broadcast and was entranced as a teenager.

I know that the Clarke/Dalton version has a lot of admirers, but this version, as far as I'm concerned, is the best in spirit and very faithful to the book.

Thank you very much to all who lobbied for the release on DVD and I applaud Acorn Media for rescuing this gem from the cobwebs of the archive.

If you have room for only one adaptation of Jane Eyre, I heartily recommend this.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars old but refined classic, 27 Jun 2006
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Julie Cutler - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
I actually looked forward to the release of this item with zeal. I saw this version when I was small- effectively it was why I went through a Bronte phase.
So a little dated. The school scenes are not quite up to scratch, but the 'orrible cousins should be on one of those self help shows.
What really stuns is Michael Jayston's Rochester who is completely in control (when not getting nearly set on fire)and is certainly a hero worth smooching over.
Sorcha Cusack manages to be plain and wooable and you quite forgive some of the priggish lines she gets to speak. (Oh fer crying out loud just take the pretty jewellery). All in all a whole packet of Bronte biscuits to this one, but not something I would endlessly watch.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DEFINITIVE JANE EYRE, 21 Sep 2011
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Wendy Leonard (Hartlepool, United Kingom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] (DVD)
I totally agree with most of the other reviews - this is definitely the BEST EVER Jane Eyre, and that includes the new film (see my review of that). No one has yet managed to match Michael Jayston and Sorcha Cusack, the sizzling repertoire is far superior to the new film, and to all other versions that have gone before. It may seem a little dated now in the production but you soon get used to that and forget once you get embroiled in the story. A definite must if you haven't seen this already.
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