So I watched the first half again and my impressions.... First I have to say I've never really been a fan of Jane Eyre. Everyone claims it's more "realistic" than Jane Austen or other period dramas, but to me it just has such a dark and morbid feel to it and such fantastical elements that are hard to believe.
But I do like watching the different adaptations of it to see how they depict it and thought this was is probably the best of all out there....
Liked how they showed her running from Thornfield as the opening shot... I think it added to the mystery and interest and just that shot of billowing skirts running from a castle is so gothic-licious!! I think that's all they really needed to show there, I found the crossroads kinda weird. And I always imagined her just wandering moors until she collapsed to die and then St. John found her there on one of his walks to commune with God or something!
BTW I hated the St. John depiction... as se7en mentioned no one gets this right!! He's supposed to be this incredibly handsome, charismatic and deeply religious figure, almost magnetic. And Jane *is* tempted, but in the end she just realizes she loves Rochester too much to be with anyone else.
I thought Thornfield needed to be darker. It was drab but there just wasn't that ominous, impending doom feeling to it. Thought Mr. Rochester was ok, the actress playing Jane Eyre was very good too. So hard to show attraction and love between a young girl and a character like Rochester. I just never see the chemistry, I just don't think they show how fascinated she is, and how attracted he is. They "say" they are but the viewer just can't see it.
The character of Blanche needs to be blonde, and I thought the little French girl should have been a younger age. I did like the housekeeper.
I also think telling the story in first person is definitely better for gothic novels like this, kind of like Rebecca style which is a pretty amazing film in the same genre. I mean can you ever leave out a line like ""Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again"!!! It just defines the whole thing. As does, "Reader, I married him" in Jane Eyre. (and "Till this moment, I never knew myself" in P&P.)
I didn't mind how they showed things in flashbacks.
I also think how they showed Lowood was wrong. Yes it was very fundamentalist, but it was also abusive. They needed to show sick and dying girls, the awful food they ate how horrible the teachers were etc. Here they just showed it as a strict school with a cruel headmaster.
I found this article on the Bronte sisters/family that was actually very interesting. Apparently they found some new unpublished manuscripts of Charlotte. But it seems a lot of speculation especially about the insinuations about too-close relationships between the siblings and their brother. Eww.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2059067/Tiny-Bronte-manuscript-introduces-world-Jayne-Eyre-character-Bertha-goes-auction.html
As an aside I totally think Se7en would be Charlotte out of the Bronte sisters and write a Jane Eyre, while I would totally write a Wuthering Heights like Emily