Jane Eyre is the latest movie version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. Set in the mid-19th century, where class and gender dictate people’s lives, the movie tells the story of Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska), a young governess.
The movie begins in the middle of the novel, when Jane arrives at the doorstep of clergyman St John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his two sisters. Unconscious and soaked to the bone, Jane is taken in by the family and nursed back to health. Flashbacks to her horrific and loveless childhood and terrible time spent in an orphanage fill in the beginning of Jane’s story.
The majority of the movie covers the time spent at Thornfield Hall, where Jane is governess to Adele. Adele is the daughter of Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender), who is frequently absent. Despite a gruff beginning and Jane’s resistance, love blossoms between her and Mr Rochester. Mr Rochester decides to choose love over social expectations and asks Jane to marry him. But a dark secret threatens their happiness.
Death of parents; family breakdown; children as victims; mental illness
This movie has some violence. For example:
- The young Jane’s teenage cousin chases her. He swings a sword around and holds it against Jane’s head. He hits her in the head with a book, so hard that her head hits a wall. Blood trickles from her head.
- Jane jumps on a boy and starts hitting him. It takes two adult women to pull her off. She is then taken to a room and threatened with being tied down. Jane screams in fear because she believes the room is haunted. She tries to knock down the door but knocks herself unconscious.
- A man has a deep wound on his back, and his shirt is stained with blood.
- A teacher strikes a girl with a stick across the back four times. The girl doesn’t cry out, but she whimpers aloud.
- A horse rears up on its hind legs, knocking its rider off and falling on him. He manages to get up, but he’s limping.
- A woman slaps a man across the face and needs to be held back as she tries to keep hitting him.
- Teachers at the orphanage humiliate Jane. They force her to stand on a chair all day without food or water. The other students are told to ignore her.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- Much of the movie is set in dreary, foggy, dark surroundings. Scenes at night seem more spooky because they’re lit by candles.
- Characters mention that ghosts haunt many of the buildings. Jane is scared by noises she hears at night.
- A young girl lies dead. Someone covers her with a blanket.
- Some scenes show people in danger from fire.
- As Jane is walking through the woods, a bird very suddenly swoops in front of her.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie shows some use of substances. For example, characters drink alcohol at social events, and they also smoke cigarettes.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- A couple kiss passionately several times.
- A girl pulls at her corset, which shows her cleavage.
- One scene shows a painting of a naked woman.
None of concern
This movie has some mild coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Jane Eyre is a movie of the classic English novel. It is a period drama, often sombre and dark. It highlights the differences between the rich and poor, men and women (and children), and masters and servants in the 19th century. Despite these differences, it also shows that true love can win through, against all odds.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- Determination and independence: Jane’s difficult beginnings inspire her to strive to work hard and support herself.
- Personal morals and values: after Mr Rochester proposes to Jane, she finds out that he’s already married. She sticks by her morals and calls off their engagement.
- The ability to learn from personal experience: no-one gives Jane love or encouragement when she’s a child. But in her own work with children, she teaches with love and encouragement.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk about class and gender inequality and how the situation today might be different from what’s shown in the movie.