1 Jane Eyre 2011
I was actually torn about putting this film on the list at first. I should give some background. In 2006, the BBC released a miniseries of Jane Eyre. It was excellent, except for a few hiccups, great, but not perfect. In 2011, the BBC released a motion picture of Jane Eyre. My first thought was, “Again?”
I mean, there have been a lot of versions of Jane Eyre. A lot. It seems that every ten years or so there is a version of Jane Eyre, whether or movies or a miniseries. There is even a musical of Jane Eyre!
So why is this version in the list?
Well, it’s quite simple. I like it. It’s a good version. It captures the mood of Jane Eyre fairly well (though I think the miniseries of 2006 captures it better) but it also is an example of a good adaptation. It cannot tell everything in Jane Eyre, but I agree with what it chooses to keep in and what it chooses to leave out. Also, I think that there are some things that the film does far, far better than the 2006 miniseries. The best example for this is when Mr. Rochester begs Jane Eyre to stay. The miniseries sexed it up in a way that did not happen in the book, where the movie plays on the sympathy for Mr. Rochester. I find myself feeling for him and his position and I feel conflicted, just as Jane does in the scene.
It also features a young director Cary Fukunaga and two up and coming actors, Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre and Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester. Mia was also roughly the same age as Jane Eyre is in the book, which was lovely to see.
Is it the definitive version of Jane Eyre? No. There is a definitive version of Jane Eyre and it is the book written by Charlotte Bronte. I also disapprove of the ending of the 2011 film, and have since I saw it for the first time. Still, it is a good version and I like it. I actually just bought a copy of it, so that must say something.
2 Three Faces of Eve
We turn now to a movie from 1957 about the (much debated) phenomenon of multiple personality disorder. It follows Eve and her therapist as they begin to uncover her alternate personalities.
Joanne Woodward is wonderful in this role. She plays each of her three identities marvelously. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and it was very well deserved in my opinion. She essentially had three roles in one film, which is incredibly difficult as an actor. I also liked how she handled the “transitions” between one persona and another.
I was also delighted to see that, in 1957, the film rejects Eve’s Stepford wife persona. Her therapist laments that this persona is simply an inadequate one for the demands of every day life and inadequate for a woman. Sometimes I think that both conservatives and liberals have harmful stereotypes of women at different points in history. Liberals sometimes talk about the “bad old days” and slander the women of the past or dismiss their voices. Their voices are valid. I think conservatives praise a false stereotype of women in the 50’s which never really existed. They then try to make women be something that women never were.
The film also features Lee J Cobb as the psychiatrist. Lee J Cobb’s main claim to fame, in my book came in 1949, when he was cast as the lead role in a new play. The role was Willy Loman and the play was Death of a Salesman.
3 Maria, Full of Grace
Maria, Full of Grace is a film about desperation and hope. This film tells the story of a pregnant teenager in Columbia. She is desperately poor, working in a sweatshop. In desperate need of money, she decides to become a drug mule. The film follows her as she swallows packets of heroin and flies to the United States to deliver them to waiting dealers.
The film does not shy from the way that drug mules are prepared and the danger that this practice poses to them. It shows Maria practicing swallowing whole grapes and talks about how the packets can sometimes burst, leading to mules to die from drug overdoses. This film also ends with a ray of hope, though it is not exactly a happy ending.
The world’s drug trade is massive and affects so many people on so many different levels. At times, we can glorify the drug trade and the people involved. (Yes, I love Breaking Bad as well, so I am a hypocrite.) My brother also loves Breaking Bad, but he has criticized it for glorifying crystal meth and glossing over the destruction that it causes to both individuals and societies as a whole. However, it is good to learn more about what some people call “the other economy” and to think about how people end up involved in it.