Where to begin... I'll admit I've watched this movie just a little "bit" this past week. [I'm knitting a sweater and need something to keep me company during the process ; )] Let's just say I don't have the movie entirely memorized... yet.
Jane Eyre (2011) is a beautiful adaptation of the book, and I highly prefer it over past Jane Eyre movies.
Although the movie omits some key background information (like how did Rochester come to take care of his ward (deleted scene)... etc?) the film is still a treat. It flows nicely, it is beautifully lit with some scenes only illumined by candlelight. The costumes are subtly stunning and make me yearn for more "real" fibers and materials to exist in my own wardrobe.
The Derbyshire dales setting, the score, and the screenplay are key elements in this film, that enrich Bronte's Story.
After reading reviews where critics compared the 2011 film to previous versions, I went back and watched the proposal scene from each adaptation. And perhaps it's the modernity of the 2011 version that persuades my bias, but I feel that Moira Buffini's screenplay gives the proposal scene a greater realism, a nice beat and realistic rhythm to the evolution of their conversation... as opposed to previous version's longer and embattled conversation that took place between Jane and Rochester. That being said, I feel that Jane's time at Thornfield Hall was a bit rushed, and her relationship with Rochester was not as developed as in past Jane Eyre movies.
The proposal scene is lovely and quintessential of all romantic period piece movies- a declaration of love slammed into a passionate request for one's hand. No four year courtship, just boom- will you marry me? The whole sequence is beautifully choreographed from the start of their walk to the atmospheric tree to their return to the house. I also watched the movie with Cary Fukunaga's director commentary, and sadly he didn't speak to any of the decisions made in that section of the film. (Overall the commentary was interesting but more often was technical, speaking about camera lenses, lighting and the weather, etc. But still worth watching with the commentary, if interested).
As with all reviews and opinions, I bring my own experiences to the table... which is why the proposal scene struck such a chord with me... besides the romantic nature of it, it was the pause afterwards- to just be outside in nature with the wind blowing, close to sunset, with a storm on the horizon, no distant man made sounds of airplanes overhead, lawnmowers, or traffic nearby, no responsibilities calling you away... what it must have felt like to live at that time (minus the 40 yr life span)- isolated from the world, isolated from the knowledge of the world... save for studying a globe as opposed to a visual bombardment from a 24 hour news network. That is what seems truly romantic- isolation in nature. (as opposed to stay-at-home-mom- isolation;) ) This similar perspective is why I loved The Tree of Life. It was one of our first dates out and away from the baby and part of me just loved sitting there in a quiet movie theatre with nothing to do... that and my new motherhood hormones made me more aware/sensitive to the beauty of the film (no matter how long it was or what dinosaurs came on screen!).... anyway!
And so, in conclusion- I recommend this film. I agree with one critic who said to truly do Jane Eyre justice would be to make it into a mini series, like the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. (Which it has been, but it would have been nice for this cast, this director- to have made their own mini series). But regardless, this film belongs on a shelf beside Pride and Prejudice, North and South, Bright Star, and the like.