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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jane Eyre

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Mia Wasikowska stars as the title character in the romantic drama "Jane Eyre."
Charlotte Bronte's classic novel gets the horror film treatment in "Jane Eyre" (Focus), an adaptation that remains true to the original story but ramps up the gothic and scary elements. Creepiness aside, this is a well-acted film that recreates a bygone era when individuality took a back seat to convention, and the weather was very wet indeed.

Mia Wasikowska, recently seen in the role of Alice wandering aimlessly through Wonderland, plays another lost soul in a strange place as the title character here. Told in flashback, the film opens to find young Jane (Amelia Clarkson) a 10-year-old orphan consigned to the "care" of her uncle's family where she's abused and unloved.

But Jane is no pushover, and her independent streak, strong character, and personal piety sustain her through the multiple miseries that are to come.

Jane is sent to a religious boarding school, where the mistreatment continues; it's a fire-and-brimstone place where frequent mortifications are seen as the way to purge the body of sin. Needless to say, the prevailing Protestant Christianity is depicted as more repressive than uplifting. But Jane's faith never wavers, focusing on God himself, not on his whip-wielding minister.

Jane endures until she is old enough to take a position as governess at Thornfield Hall, home of the enigmatic Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). He falls for Jane quite literally, tumbling off his bewitched horse when he first encounters her on a country lane. But it's hardly love at first sight, since Rochester harbors demons that are gradually revealed in due course.

Jane focuses on her work, teaching Adele Varens (Romy Settbon Moore), a young French girl in Rochester's care, while trying to understand the eccentricities of her spiritually tormented employer. Her guide and confidante is the busybody housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench, who nearly steals the film).

Thornfield Hall makes the Haunted Mansion look like child's play. Watch out for things that go bump in the night—and who's making all that racket in the attic?

Soon Rochester's bedroom is on fire, and Jane saves his life—and melts his heart. They make plans to marry. But fate, of course, has other things in store for these star-crossed lovers.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga ("Sin Nombre") makes the most of the English settings and, especially, the gloomy weather. The moors are misty, the rain is drenching, and the wind howls, while the manor houses are forbiddingly grand and the ladies' corsets tight. The mood is appropriately claustrophobic as Jane struggles against the stiff customs and propriety of the age, all the while keeping her faith in God and upholding her moral code.

Possibly acceptable for mature teens, despite the elements listed below.

The film contains adult themes, some intense scenes of nonsexual child abuse, and an artistic nude image. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog When we go through pain it is easy to feel abandoned or forgotten, but suffering doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us, He does. Even Jesus suffered, and He was completely without sin.

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