Jane Eyre – TV Mini-Series 2006

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Here is the most recent film adaptation of Jane Eyre that I have watched.  This one is quite long, as it was originally a TV mini-series.  It’s kind of a plus that it’s so long though, because it gives more time for the story to be fully developed.

Toby Stephens stars as Mr. Rochester and Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre.  I think they are perfect for their parts–Rochester a bit weathered and surly but still magnetic; Jane young and plain, but attractive nonetheless.

There are two aspects to this rendition that will be glaringly obvious to Jane Eyre fans.  They took a lot of free license with the dialogue, and they capitalized on the gothic aspects of the story.  In regards to dialogue, there are countless lines (sometimes almost entire conversations) which have been changed from the book.  I think that the changed conversations still helped establish the spark and connection between Jane and Rochester, but I believe the original dialogue did that also.  I’m not sure why they changed it, unless it was to try to modernize the conversation a bit.

I was quite impressed with how well they brought gothic elements into the movie.  There were plenty of spooky scenes, almost shocking images (Rochester’s bed on fire, for one), a sometimes cruel and dominating male love interest, and the young (seemingly) helpless heroine.  It’s a strong element in this version that I haven’t seen in others.  For that reason alone, you should check it out.

As far as acting, I think that Rochester and Jane were very good.  He was sufficiently gruff and moody, and followed the book a bit better in showing his unfeeling torment of her.  (I have to confess though, I think they went a bit overboard in this version with how despicable he acted towards her.)

Jane was quite interesting–both young and innocent, and wise beyond her years.  She showed the proper amount of reserve, but was willing to share her mind when asked.  I also enjoyed how she stood up for Adele.

Jane and Rochester have some really great chemistry in this movie.  Unlike some other versions, this one does a great job of showing Jane falling in love with Rochester.  It’s good to see the attachment grow on both sides.  Two of my favorite scenes between them are when she asks him for leave to go visit Mrs. Reed (such fun and affection), and when Rochester tries to convince Jane to stay (the bed scene).  That last scene is very intense.  Finally, once they reunite at Jane’s return, this movie gives that whole episode a much more satisfying treatment than any others I’ve seen.

Possible Objections:

  • Mr. Rochester says a couple of rude epithets.  Nothing major, just not appropriate for kids.
  • Bertha says the b-word in Spanish.
  • There is a scene with Rochester’s wife Bertha that is very inappropriate.  Not for young people, even though you technically can’t see anything.

Rated: NR

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Jane Eyre – Movie 1996

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Here we go again!  I watched another Jane Eyre movie adaptation last night.  This one stars William Hurt as Mr. Rochester and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane.  It can be difficult to compare the different movie adaptations to one another.  Where one is weak in a particular area, another is strong and vice versa.  I’ll start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition.

This movie devotes a much larger part to Jane’s childhood and really establishes her character before she enters adulthood.  We can see from the beginning that Jane has spunk and thinks for herself.  You’ll find yourself rooting for her and hopeful for a better future as she embarks on a new chapter in life when she leaves Lowood School.

I believe that Hurt’s portrayal of Mr. Rochester is my absolute favorite of all those I’ve seen.  His acting is superb–there’s nothing forced or awkward about it.  His Mr. Rochester is moody, teasing, tortured, quite likable, and totally mesmerized by Jane.  It is easy to believe that he has finally found a woman whom he respects, admires, and recognizes for the superior character that she is.

Gainsbourg does a great job of finding that careful balance between the quiet and reserved Jane, and the plainspoken and independent Jane.  There are scenes where she is quite reserved, and others where her affection and other emotions shine through.  It’s a tough character to play and I think she did well.

As far as Jane and Rochester go, I think the actors had the necessary chemistry to make the love interest believable.  The garden scene was very good, with both showing the proper emotions to convince viewers.

This version of the movie struck me as having very strong supporting characters.  The young Jane (Anna Paquin), Aunt Reed (Fiona Shaw), Mr. Brocklehurst (John Wood), Mrs. Fairfax (Joan Plowright), and even Adele were all played very well.  They added a bit of extra sparkle to the movie with their great acting.

The only real criticism I have for this version is that they took a lot of free license with the part of the story that concerns Jane’s removal from Thornfield Hall.  Jane doesn’t experience quite the privations that she does in the book.  Also, St. John’s character is altered quite a lot, and he only has one sister in this version.  I’m sure they wanted to simplify this part of the story because they focused more on her childhood, but I miss it.

I think you’ll enjoy this movie a lot if you’re a fan of Jane Eyre.  It is a very compelling love story, which is really what the book is all about.  They got that part right!

Rated: PG

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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Jane Eyre – Movie 2011

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I have decided that in addition to reviewing books, I’d also like to use this blog to review movie adaptations of books.  To that end, Jane Eyre is my first movie review.  I believe this is the second time that I’ve watched the version that features Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska.  I’m not going to give an extremely detailed breakdown of the movie and all the pros and cons.  I prefer to talk lightly on whether or not I liked it, if there were any glaring errors, etc.  I’d rather you come away with your own ideas from the movie, than be overly influenced by mine.

First, I like the look of the actors they chose to portray Mr. Rochester and Jane in this version.  I know that sounds silly, but if I don’t think “Jane” and “Rochester” when I look at the actors, I’m not going to enter into the story as readily.  I really enjoyed Fassbender’s portrayal of Rochester, though he wasn’t quite as dark and brooding as in some other adaptations or the book.  He didn’t seem to be quite as tortured as he should have been.  Wasikowska’s portrayal, I’m not quite as sure about.  I did enjoy her performance, but it seemed to be lacking something.  There seemed to be a flatness to her character at times, and a general lack of emotion.  I also thought that the chemistry was a little lacking between Jane and Rochester, which is of course one of the main ingredients that makes the whole plot believable.

There were a few bits that I noticed had been changed from the book, but I’ve come to expect that in screen adaptations.  It doesn’t bother me too much.  Unfortunately, there were some scenes left out that I think would have added to the story, but there may have been time constraints.  One thing I thought was quite clever in this adaptation, was that Jane’s story alternated between present day (once she had left Thornfield), and her past (beginning with her childhood).  I think that was an interesting way to tell the story.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to Jane Eyre fans and those who enjoy a good love story.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, as long as you go into it allowing it to be its own version of Jane Eyre.  🙂

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Mouse Moves House by Phil Roxbee Cox

Mouse Moves House

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Mouse Moves House is a cute and relatively short phonics reader for kids who are learning to read.  It has a lot of rhyming words and short sentences.  There are also a few folded flaps that reveal a change in the illustrations.  The illustrations are by Stephen Cartwright and they are so cute!

In this story, Mack the mouse is moving house, so his friend Jack comes over to help him pack.  At the end, the mice encounter a cat and Jack panics.  It turns out the cat is Mack’s friend Fat Cat.  He helps transport Mack, Jack, and Mack’s belongings to his new home.

Toodles,

Jewls &  Lori

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The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein

Missing Piece

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The Missing Piece is about a circle with a piece missing who goes in search of it.  He sings a song while he is rolling along.  He goes up hills and down hills, into holes and across oceans.

Some of the pieces he meets are too big, too small, too long, etc.  One day he finds a piece that fits, but he can’t sing anymore or say ‘hi’ to the butterflies.  He decides to put the piece down and rolls away.  It’s quite obvious that this book is really about people who “fit” and those who don’t.

I like the pictures.  They are pretty simple.

Bubba says goodbye!

Wish Upon a Birthday by Norma Q. Hare

Wish Upon A Birthday

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Wish Upon a Birthday is a cute book about a servant boy named Gabe who needs to give a birthday present to the princess, but he doesn’t have any money to buy a gift.  Gabe’s cat does a service for the miller by killing the mice that are plaguing him, so the miller gives Gabe some flour.  Through a series of trades, Gabe ends up with all of the ingredients he needs to make a cake.  In the end, he makes a birthday cake for the princess and it is the gift she likes best.

The pictures are colorful, detailed, and charming.  Slime likes this book because of the birthday cake.  Yummy!

Goodbye,

Slime & Lori

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Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness as told to Robert Specht

Tisha

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Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness is one of my all-time favorite books!  I was introduced to it when I was fairly young, perhaps in grade school.  I believe that I found it on my dad’s bookshelf.  In fact, I still have that very copy, though the binding has completely split by now.

Anyhow, this book is a little difficult to classify because it doesn’t stick to a single genre.  There’s some adventure, some romance, some social commentary, some history.  Since it’s a biography, it is a multi-faceted story.  That makes it especially interesting and entertaining.

The overarching story is about a young woman named Anne Hobbs who goes to Alaska in the 1920’s to teach in the tiny community of Chicken.  She is hoping for some adventure, and boy does she find it!  There is plenty of adventure and action throughout the story, no doubt because of the frontier conditions in Alaska at that time and the inhabitants’ ability to do as they please.  Anne doesn’t understand how things are done in her new community, so she ends up stepping on toes and voicing opinions that are not widely accepted.  Many in the community believe that the Native “Indians” are not as good as white people, and this is where Anne runs into a lot of trouble.  She decides that she will allow the native children to attend school with the white kids, and then she has the gall to fall in love with a man who is half Native American.  There are truly heartbreaking scenes throughout the book, but in the end love wins out.

This story is so charmingly told that you end up feeling like you are a part of Anne’s community.  I love all the details the book gives about what life was like in that small Alaskan town at that particular time in history.  You get a glimpse into history that is both informative and entertaining.  I would highly recommend this book to adults and possibly older teens, depending on their level of maturity.  As you’ll see from the section below, there is quite a bit of objectionable content in the book.

Possible Objections:

  1. There is a lot of racism in this book, whether it’s racial slurs or simply people voicing their prejudices.  Though those views are not advocated, they are presented without apology as the views of some of the significant characters.
  2. Racist terms–more than just against Native Americans.  There are also a few slurs against African Americans and others.  I would not want my children reading those words until they are older and better able to judge that they are inappropriate.
  3. There is mention of one man having tried to start a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the town he used to live in.
  4. A child whose father chooses not to acknowledge him is called a “bastard.”
  5. There is a passage where one of the characters beats the donkeys and horses in his pack train to make them continue.  It could be disturbing for some people.
  6. The squalor and disease that is detailed in the Native American community could be disturbing to some readers.
  7. There are some episodes of violence, with people physically fighting.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso

Spelling Trouble

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble is about a girl named Salem and a cat named Whammy.  Salem is a young witch who mixes up almost all of the spells she tries to cast.  Her family decides to assign her a companion animal to help teach her how to use her powers.  Whammy the cat is the one enlisted to fill that role.  He also tries to help Salem win a spelling bee that she will be taking part in at school.  Though there is some friction between them, they eventually become friends.  This is the first book in the series.

This book is best for older school-aged kids to preteens.  Bubba likes this book because it’s funny.

Possible Objections:

  1. Salem is a witch and uses magical powers.  If you don’t want your child reading about that type of thing, then steer clear of this book series.
  2. There’s a bit of rude behavior and talk amongst some of the characters.

 

Goodbye,

Bubba & Lori

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History by Daniel Lipkowitz with Kathryn Hill, Helen Murray & Rosie Peet

Great Lego Sets

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Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History is a great reference book for LEGO fans, that comes with an exclusive micro-scale space cruiser.  We just checked out our copy from the library, so we didn’t get to try out the set.  😦

This is a very visually striking book that is brimming with awesome LEGO sets through the years.  It goes from the 1950’s through the present time (2010’s).  The beginning of the book contains a timeline, which is followed with a section on how a LEGO set is made.  In each decade’s section you get a bit of information about the direction that LEGO pursued and see some key sets from that time period.  On each set’s page, you learn some interesting information about that particular one.

The thing that I like best about this book is that it’s LEGO, LEGO, LEGO!!!  I recommend this book for LEGO fans of all ages.

Later,

Slime & Lori

The Donkey’s Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri

Christmas Song

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The Donkey’s Christmas Song is a really simple Christmas book for kids.  It’s about the animals welcoming baby Jesus at his birth.  There are doves, a cow, goats, sheep, chicks, mice, and a donkey.  The donkey is shy because he thinks his “song” will be too loud.  However, the baby really likes it!

My favorite part was when the donkey and baby Jesus cuddled.  I would recommend it for toddlers and younger kids.

Toodles,

Jewls & Lori

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma

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Emma is a romantic comedy of errors that revolves around the main character, Emma Woodhouse.  When Emma’s governess marries, Emma believes herself to have been highly instrumental in making the match.  She subsequently tries her hand at more matchmaking, which ends up going terribly wrong.  Her insight is not nearly as good as she thinks it to be, so she makes some terrible mistakes.  More than once, she steers her friend Harriet to make bad romantic choices.  Not only is Emma clueless when it comes to love, but she is rather neglectful in considering how her actions and words affect others.  When she slights an older lady of reduced means, she comes face to face with her own deficiencies of character.  At this point Emma embarks on a real journey of personal reform.  Mr. Knightley professes his love for Emma toward the end of the novel, so their romance doesn’t take up a lot of the story.

While Emma isn’t my favorite Jane Austen novel, I still enjoy it.  I suppose the reason that I don’t like it quite as much as the others is that this is probably her heroine who makes the most mistakes.  The many social blunders that Emma commits can make for some uncomfortable reading at times.  It’s not that there is anything really awful, it’s just awkward.  It is nice to see her character mature and learn a few life lessons.  The book is both a love story and a coming of age story.  I’d recommend it for advanced teens and adults.  The language and style are advanced.

Possible Objections:

  1. Towards the end, Mr. Knightley tells Emma that he’s been in love with her since she was about thirteen.  At the time the novel was written that may not have been a big deal, but today we call that pedophilia.  That creeped me out a little.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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Goodbye House by Frank Asch

Goodbye House

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Goodbye House is a simple book about moving to a new house. Baby Bear and his family have just finished packing the moving van, when he decides to go back into the house because he thinks that he forgot something.  He looks over the entire house and then remembers with his parents what the living room looked like when it was occupied.  Although the house is empty, it is full of their memories. His father takes him around to say goodbye to all of the different parts of the house, ending with the entire house.  They get into the moving van and drive away from their old house.

I think this is a great book for young kids who are faced with the prospect of moving.  Moving can be a scary and sad experience for them, so this is a nice book to share with kids who are feeling a little uncertain about the process.  As with all of Frank Asch’s books–the illustrations are simple, bright and charming.

 

Toodles,

Jewls & Lori

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Blue Dolphins

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Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book for younger readers that’s loosely based on a true story.  Karana lives on an island in a small community of native people.  When the Aleuts show up to hunt otter, there is conflict and many in her tribe are killed.  Not too long after, another ship arrives to take the remainder of her tribe to the mainland to start a new life there.  Karana’s brother gets left behind when he goes back for something he forgot, and she jumps from the ship into the sea to swim back to the island.  Because of bad weather, the ship has to leave without them, so she and her brother are forced to fend for themselves on the island.  After only a short time her brother dies and she is left all alone.  The rest of the book chronicles the many tasks she has to do to survive, such as harvesting abalones and building a shelter.  Karana also makes friends with one of the wild dogs who has been injured, and some other creatures.  In the end she is rescued, but not until after eighteen years of seclusion.

I read this book as a child and loved it, so I decided to read it aloud to my boys.  It’s a great story of adventure and survival.  It also draws in themes of resourcefulness, companionship, loneliness, and the need for others.  This story is full of sweetness and sadness, which meld into a perfect blend.  I would highly recommend this book, especially for later elementary-aged kids to teens.

Possible Objections:

  1. There is a little bit of violence, such as when Karana’s brother is killed by the wild dogs.  Other than that, it’s fairly tame.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Nim's Island

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Nim’s Island is about a girl named Nim, her dad Jack, Nim’s pen pal Alexandra, a seal named Selkie, and an iguana named Fred.  Jack is a scientist who studies all kinds of animals, but the animal that he likes to study the most is plankton.  When Nim was a little girl her mom was examining the contents of a whale’s stomach when some tourists bumped into the whale.  The whale was frightened, so it dived down.  Jack looked everywhere for her but the whale never resurfaced, so Jack gave up looking for her.  He went to live on an island that had not been mapped, which he called Nim’s island.  One day when Nim was older, Jack went out on his boat to study plankton.  While he was gone a HUGE storm blew his boat over and it sank.  Nim and Alexandra rescue him and everyone lives happily ever after, at least I hope so (be prepared for a long and VERY boring argument about whether or not they live happily ever after). Well Nim never found her mom, so that’s sad.  But Nim’s dad survives the storm so that’s happy.  So far the score is 1-1; let’s see what the next round will be like.  No one dies, so that is happy, but oooh it looks like bad is making a comeback.  Nim’s house is TOTALLY destroyed.  And the score is . . . 2-2!  This is it people, the final battle!  Only one will come out alive; who will it be? No one discovers their island and ruins it forever, so Yay!  Does bad have a comeback?  Nope, he does not. That’s it bubbas; that’s the game and the score waaaasssss . . . . . . 3-2. YES HAPPY WON, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!

Bubba says good-bye

Boy by Roald Dahl

Boy

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Boy is a collection of memories that Roald Dahl shares from his childhood.  It is not an all-inclusive story about his childhood years, but just touches on the particular happenings that stood out to him.  He tells the reader about his parents and family, his preschool years, his time in boarding school, vacations in Norway, and his eventual start in life as an independent young man.  Scattered throughout the text are excerpts from letters that Dahl wrote to his mother as a child, photographs, and illustrations.

I am already a big Roald Dahl fan, so I enjoy reading a book that gives me a little more information about his personal history.  Even if you’re not a fan of his, the stories are quite entertaining and informative.  I really think you’ll enjoy this book.  It’s a fun, quick read.

Possible Objections:

  1. The d-word made at least one appearance in the book.
  2. There is an awful lot of talk about caning boys as a form of punishment.  While the author is simply relaying the facts of how punishment was handled in the school setting, it may be a bit traumatic for some readers.
  3. There are also a fair share of scenes in which the teachers treat students harshly.  This may upset some children.
  4. An incident is described in which the author’s nose was sliced almost all the way off in an automobile accident.  Again, this could be a traumatic idea for some kids.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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