Zeffirelli had to combine several, sometimes contradictory constraints: he had to update the text, to maintain a specific filmic transcription of the novel, and to negotiate a delicate balance between recognising the influence of the source text and the need for a specific creativity in the adaptation. Our aim will be to ascertain the logic at the core of this work, and the selection Zeffirelli had to operate within the text according to the specific features of cinema.
For instance, if the ellipsis from the novel (10 years, in chapter 10) concerning Jane's teaching at Lowood is actually transcribed in the film, some other changes occur which are not accountable for by the plot of the novel. Why e.g. does Zeffirelli place Rochester's call to Jane before St. John's proposal and not during it as in the novel? What is the consistency of such modifications? And do they fit in a larger scheme that would point to a global rereading of the novel?
[...] We may then compare the presence of images within the film and within the text: does the film take up this obvious interest with images when it appears in the novel? In chapter 13, when Rochester examines Jane's drawing, the narrative flow comes to a standstill: there is some kind of digression as the narrator addresses the reader to enlarge upon what these images represent, in a passage narrated in the present tense, before returning to the story after this interruption. [...]
[...] Jane Eyre, by Franco Zeffirelli, Miramax 1996, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, William Hurt, Joan Plowright and Geraldine Chaplin minutes. DVD. Television. The Rochesters' faces are often better known than Jane's . I indicate the constitutive roles of their persona. Jane Eyre, series 'Studio One' (USA) XII 1949, by Franklin J. Schaffner, with Charlton Heston (aka Ben Hur) and Mary Malone (about an hour). [...]
[...] See Norton p Jane Eyre, 'Matinee Theater' series, May by Lamont Johnson, with Patrick MacNee (aka John Steed) and Joan Elam (one hour). * Jane Eyre, BBC 1973 with Sorcha Cusach and Michael Jayston. Very popular in GB. * Jane Eyre, Julian Amyes, BBC Two with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton (James Bond) minutes DVD easy to find. Jane Eyre, by Robert Young with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds. Available. Adapted by Kay Mellor. [...]
[...] Figure 9 This scene also sets up the essential treatment of the visual dimension as reference in Zeffirelli, i.e., the reference of film to painting, which is omnipresent in the adaptation at hand. Jane's portrait of Helen is shot in a light that recalls Vermeer, Millais or Rembrandt (fig and 11) just as some shots are very much composed as still life paintings focusing on objects (fig. 12). Jane's meeting with Mrs. Fairfax [0:29:30] shows how redolent the indirect lighting by the fireplace (often from the left-hand side) appears in the shots, evoking Flemish painters again, or 19th-century painters. [...]
[...] Once the filmgoer is transported to this past time, every action in the narrative seems to be happening with the same degree of presentness as the actions pertaining to the sequences set at a later date. (Brian Mac Farlane, "Reading film and literature," The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen, p. 21) Enunciation in the film is then temporally disconnected from the time frame of the novel, and voice over appears as a poor makeshift device to stand in the stead of this first-person narration. [...]
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