A MoonShadow MoonShadow

Jane, George and me

It has been over a month since the last post, so I thought perhaps I would start the year out doing something productive – if blogging can be considered productive. I swore the first thing I’d do when I got back from the trip to back to NYC to see Alan Rickman in Seminar would be to chronicle the experience. But a whirlwind of Christmas and family and work and business came at me as I stepped off the plane and rather took the oomph out of my sails. And since I am at heart undisciplined (sounds so much nicer than “lazy” which is what I truly am), I have yet to tackle the Seminar/Rickman/New York at Christmas post, but I will … soon … really … but first …. I feel compelled to write about something else. Please don’t feel obligated to read the rest of this post, particularly if you have never read Jane Eyre and/or were not a dorky teenager in the early ‘70s with a crush on George C. Scott. That’s right, you read it right, George C. Scott – save the mockery for later please…

I first read Jane Eyre at about 14 years of age, maybe 13. I was obsessed with the book and the story. I came to it in a roundabout way – I saw the made for television version starring George C. Scott and Susannah York and was enthralled. I’ve always tended towards the gothy side (yes, I too, like Messrs. Depp and Burton, ran home to catch Dark Shadows on the telly). And my lord, Mr. Rochester, as portrayed by George C. sent my proto-goth head spinning. Off I staggered to the library upon seeing this to get the “whole” story. The book proved to be much more beautifully angsty than the television movie (obviously) and Bronte’s prose style was completely new to my 1970’s teenage sensibilities. Dear reader, I was hooked. I didn’t come up for air until I finished it (altho’ I will admit to a tiny bit of skimming on the “SintJin” parts).

[Flashforward] On the airplane coming back from NY, surprisingly not really interested in watching “Our Idiot Brother,” I started reading passages from Jane Eyre that I had downloaded to the iPad. The attic door was cracked opened but as I said, when I stepped off the plane, life came at me and I had little time for reading – until Christmas night when I picked up the book once more and then it all swooped in on me from out of the past. I found myself right back to the darkened hall, lit by my spluttering candle, listening to the screams and waiting for Mr. Rochester. I will spare you my analysis of the book (for now), but I did come to realize, under all the emotion and turmoil that drew me to the book, Jane Eyre was a great role model for a young girl. She stuck to her beliefs, she didn’t back down and she made her own way in the world. There is one exchange in the book and I’m paraphrasing ’cause I’m too lazy to go find the passage or uh, undisciplined that’s the word I meant to use, … anyway, Rochester is trying to basically convince Jane to live with him in sin or as near an approximation of sin as they had at the time, that no one would care or know, and she states, “But I would.” Good girl Jane – frankly then and now, I would be throwing my few belongings in a bag and following him out the door. Along with being lazy, I have no moral fortitude.

Still with me? Wow – I thought you would have given up reading this way up there at the “SintJin” part. Okay, continuing then….

The book also took me back to the burly arms of Mr. Scott. I had not seen the movie in many, many years. Since I was already on the iPad I googled the movie and found it to be available in I believe 9 easy segments on YouTube. Well, while I still love George C. as Edward Rochester – he was the first so therefore my definitive Rochester – I couldn’t say the same about the production. Susannah York was way, way way too old to be playing Jane and had a little too much worldly confidence. The ending was so anticlimactic I’m sure something must be missing from this version. So, obsessive/compulsive as I am, off I started to view (insert fanfare) – every Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester combination available on YouTube to see which was truly the best version of this book. Do you have any idea how many versions of this book have been staged cinematically? I skipped Orson Welles’ version – I’d seen that long ago and while a good movie it was not Jane Eyre. I went through several BBC mini series versions, one with Toby Stephens, another with Tim Dalton and the new movie with Fassbender that just came out. I know, I know, a little obsessive. While I liked all the different Rochester’s for different reasons, I still liked Mr. Scott’s portrayal the best. But as to the best rendition of the book, I’d have to say it was the Timothy Dalton 1983 version that seemed the most accurate (altho’ I really didn’t care for Jane in that one). The most romantic was the 2006 version – zowie, but not faithful to the book. And one does want Jane Eyre to be faithful does one not?

Okay – I’m rambling at this point because I seriously doubt you followed me to the depths of this post so the rest is for me. Should you read this, don’t repeat it – I still love George C. Scott; his smile makes me happy. Watching him in Jane Eyre made me remember him in Beauty and the Beast, another movie that does not stand up to memory but his performance was exceptional and then that took me to “They Might Be Giants” (the movie, not the band). (All conveniently available on YouTube.) They Might Be Giants is a flawed movie but George C. Scott’s and Joanne Woodward’s abilities shine through to make you care about their Holmes and Watson. Scott was no pretty boy, but he had a manly charisma and the ability that all actors should have, that of embodying their character wholeheartedly. What I have referenced is admittedly not Scott’s best work – Dr. Strangelove, Patton, The Hospital, etc. are his best work. But his work in these films inspired me and took me into hallways where I never expected to find myself.

Thats it for now, but be warned, this blog may be visited soon by more analysis of Jane Eyre, the book, and Jane Eyre on film and perhaps a smidge more on George just cause I don’t think I’ve gotten all this out of my system yet.


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6 thoughts on “Jane, George and me

  1. Oh, I am *so-o-o* with you regarding George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester! The thing that did it for me in his performance was the way he was able to pack so many different emotional shadings into the way he said ‘Jane’. Men court with voice/intonation whether they know they do or not, and he made the saying of her name burn…

    I also wanted to let you know that because the GCS version of Jane Eyre is in the public domain, there have been several bad DVD issues of it. The earliest ones were actually made from a cut print of the film, and besides poor film quality, about 11 minutes of the original film is missing. The 2010-issue DVD on Amazon is still in need of remastering, but at least it is a full 110 minutes long as opposed to a hacked 99.

    I will also be interested in hearing about your seeing Alan Rickman in Seminar. I adore AR, but I’m not so sure I’d like the play itself.

  2. amoonshadow on said:

    Thanks so much for the DVD info. I’ve been staring at all those versions on Amazon trying to get an idea of which was the best. I had a VHS copy of this many, many, oh so many years ago and it was horrible. There was material missing and the quality was atrocious. I didn’t realize it was in public domain. I visited your blogs, and on the Rickman GPS post, you captured his “voice” extremely well … pity he refuses to stoop to voicing GPS, I could very much use Marvin’s voice guiding me, with an occasional visit from the Professor. Completely agree with your comment about men’s voice and intonation. I look forward to your next post on your blog. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. So glad you liked the Rickman GPS! I kept seeing very funny one-liners everywhere, where people borrowed movie dialogue and warped it into GPS-mode. I also kept hearing his voice in my head bracketed by that weird bell/beep-sound they do when you turn on an OnStar unit, and it just made me want to do an entire trip-script.

    I am also letting you know I just updated my blog this evening with an odd post about Hare-synchronicity, George C. Scott, and magick, and I e-collaged the picture of GCS that accompanies the post. Feel free to lift a copy if it amuses you, which I hope it will. I meant it as the gentlest of twits, which the post hopefully explains…

    …and I’ll keep stopping on by to look for that Rickman/Seminar post!

  4. Just wanted to leave you a follow-up about the 2010 Jane Eyre release on Amazon. I got it today and screened it this evening. It is longer than the other versions, but is still not complete. The one cut I would damn this release for is that the scene where Rochester tells Jane that he imagines there’s a thread connecting one of his ribs to Jane’s, and that if she were to go too far away from him, he imagines the thread would break and he “has the odd notion that he would take to bleeding internally”. I think I am not being delusional when I say that I *do* remember GCS saying those lines, but in this still-chopped version, that scene is gone, gone, gone-ski… [insert Patton-esque swear-word of your choice here.]

    The print quality is also very bad– there is a vertical green line that shows up in three places for 15 to 20 seconds each time, and a lot of the scenes are very dark. There is one scene of Jane and Rochester talking by the fire that is so dark you cannot see George C.’s face at all, and the camera is pointed right at him. I went to Amazon and left a review, as I think people should know what they are buying. My overall take on this release is if you have bad GCS-as-Rochester cravings, this DVD is better than nothing– you still actually get to see GCS in moderate deshabille in the bedcurtains-are-on-fire scene– but not by much.

    I sure do hope there is an uncut version of this film still extant out there somewhere, and I also hope whoever winds up laying hands on it remasters it with a vengeance!

  5. amoonshadow on said:

    What you’re describing sounds exactly like the horrible VHS version I have of it. I did some digging and found out that unfortunately the original film itself has been lost, hence the terrible DVD’s out there that are copies of copies of copies…

    “It appeared first in theatres in Europe, but only on TV in the U.S. the next year. This Jane Eyre movie is a somewhat obscure, but it still has a dedicated following and a memorable musical score by John Williams. Unfortunately, the original film was lost, so DVD copies are of poor quality.” http://paintedseahorse.hubpages.com/hub/Comprehensive-Guide-to-Jane-Eyre-Adaptations

    I guess one can hold out hope that someday in the attic of some remote Danish movie theater a copy will surface and properly remastered.

    As to the scene with Rochester’s comment about the string “… under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string…,” I remember it too. It is one of my favorite passages from the book. That’s one of the scenes that I thought was also missing in the VHS copy I have. But this is where I think that scene should have occurred in the movie and it looks like it was never there – no jump cut, no black out.

    Perhaps we created it? I’m learning as of late that memory can be an ephemeral thing. Although, what are the odds that two complete strangers would remember the same scene if it didn’t exist?

    The YouTube version looks much better than my VHS copy ever did.

  6. I just re-read the book not too long ago, and I’m thinking I should just go through it again, and find exactly where it occurs in the novel’s storyline, because that would give me a clue where it might have been in the GCS version. I don’t think our memories are playing tricks on us, because I remember the line from two other versions of Jane Eyre, and I think it is part of the book dialogue that screenwriters like to include in their adaptations, because of the vivid imagery/language. It just fries me that this version of Jane Eyre was not conserved, both for the John Williams score, which is gorgeous, and as a part of the filmography of both Suzannah York and George C., who were both more than just a tad famous back in the day… gr-r-r…

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