2011’s Jane Eyre comes to Region Free US Blu-ray complete with a superior 1080p High Definition video rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, with no signs of any softness, edge enhancement, DNR or other digital defects. Clarity is resounding, and, although we do get a fine layer of grain pervading the piece, this is totally in-line with the tone, and brings a beautifully cinematic edge to the proceedings. The colour scheme has been intentionally muted and slanted in the direction of drab tones – blues-and-greys-dominated – but the palette is still represented extremely well despite the lack of vivid tones; and there is a lovely richness to the settings that makes them feel genuine (apart from perhaps the moor sequence). Black levels are strong – crush notwithstanding – and allow for generally good shadowing, the depth to which feels often intangible and allows the characters to glide around back and forth in the light. Overall it just edges its way into demo quality territory, in spite of the restrictive colour palette, and looks to be one of the best classic period costume dramas on Blu-ray.
On the aural front we get a thoroughly immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that will likely exceed all your expectations in terms of soundtrack for a drama of this kind. The ever-important dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array whenever appropriate; but it’s the sweeping, perfectly chosen score and the keenly-observed effects array that will truly stand out as memorable with this piece. More so than any other costume drama I have ever come across, Jane Eyre succeeds in providing a notably atmospheric mix, which keeps the surrounds pretty active throughout, and keeps you slightly on edge as a result – the stormy moors come to life, the creepy, creaky house comes to life, it all works extremely well as you are carried along by the evocative score. A couple of rumbling doses of LFE further send you off-balance with their shock-tactics delivery, and this surprisingly immersive accompaniment really does bring out the best in this period piece. Excellent.
To accompany the movie we get a good selection of extras which covers all the bases, and excels in one or two areas. The Commentary alone offers pretty-much everything you would want in the way of background to the movie (although a little more into Charlotte Bronte and her life might have added an extra dimension), but it's the Deleted Scenes that will really draw fans in. The Featurettes, on the other hand, are completely derivative, fluffy and utterly worthless at the end of the day.
Feature Commentary with Director Cary Fukunaga is a solid, informative offering which provides the listener with plenty of background not only into the production, but also into the Director’s style and techniques; his intentions behind the piece and his thoughts on this adaptation of the material – noting the changes made from source novel to movie. The trouble is that the Director does tend to get bogged down in overly-specific detailing of everything from the type of lenses he used to the intricate effects-work done to change the visual backgrounds and make them look more in-line with the period times. Sometimes these dry offerings are still interesting, from a trivia point of view, but often they get just too specific, and threaten to switch off any listener before you get to the meat of the piece.
This is probably one of the most interesting areas for fans of both the book and film, because here we get to see what could have been left in, especially considering the fact that the Director had originally hinted at a 150 minute director’s cut. Here we get some 17 minutes of extra footage, split into 9 deleted/extended scenes; and, whilst some of them are fairly superfluous, there is clearly plenty of material here that would have likely only enhanced or perfected the finished product (albeit at the expense of a longer runtime). I certainly would have been interested in a longer director’s cut, which afforded more time to building up the core relationship in a fluid, organic fashion; and some of the deleted scenes here hint at what could have contributed to that longer cut.
A Look Inside Jane Eyre is the first of three ridiculously short Featurettes taking just three and a half minutes to offer up what is essentially an extended trailer promo reel of the movie, with very little background at all, and only brief, insignificant cast and crew soundbites peppered throughout.
To Score Jane Eyre: Cary Fukunaga and Dario Marianelli Team Up is another brief 2 minute offering, this time looking specifically at the evocative score.
The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre rounds out the trio of overly short Featurettes with a 2 minute discussion on the look of the film, with contributions from the cinematographer talking about the moody vibe that he was going for.
One of the best adaptations of the literary classic, Jane Eyre, director Cary Fukunaga’s sophomore vehicle is a moody, at times lavish, at times emotive experience, packed with well-developed characters, who slowly seep their way under your skin; drawing you in as you follow them on their voyage through life and love. Cleverly playing around with the timeline using flashforwards and flashbacks, on many levels this more comprehensive adaptation eschews the streamlined ‘Pride and Prejudice 2005’ approach, instead attempting to deliver more than just the basics of the original source novel. On the plus side, fans of the book will revel in the subtle touches, the keen observations and the expansiveness of the narrative; although those marginally less familiar with the at times tragic relationship of the mysterious Jane Eyre and the elusive Mr Rochester might find that their relationship is not quite given the room to breathe and grow in a truly fluid, organic fashion. Still, with Mia Wasikowska’s tremendous rendition of the eponymous heroine driving the piece; and with Michael Fassbender providing yet another great performance, the strong, important moments between the two leads manage to pull you back in and, missteps aside, you will likely find yourself thoroughly immersed in the stormy world of Jane Eyre.
Coming to Region Free US Blu-ray a good couple of months before we even see a theatrical release in the UK, this release is certainly going to pique the attention of fans of both Bronte’s classic, and costume dramas in general. It boasts excellent video and audio and a decent selection of extras, all of which – together with the early release – make it an arguable blind buy for many. I would certainly recommend it to anybody who loved the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – it’s another classic love story lovingly brought to life for a new generation, although, flaws notwithstanding, this may just stand taller as the definitive Jane Eyre adaptation thus far.
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