Even since I watched, and loved, Jane Eyre (2006) that I have been curious about the other adaptations. I have a few in the TBS pile and what better occasion to watch them to participate in the Brontë's Challenge?
I was pleasantly surprised with this adaptation starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke and dating from 1983. Although the colours and the lighting give it a somehow dated feel I discovered that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. The main thing for me was that this is a longer version where there's time to include most of what's in the book. I think long adaptations are a plus when you have a rich story and it's a pity that most of them have to be cut to make them into a shorter format. It lacks some of the magnetism of the 2006 version though (where my biggest complaint is that it should have been longer).
I did like Dalton and Clarke as Rochester and Jane, none of them is beautiful in the traditional sense but Dalton's brooding and angular looks are certainly very appealing and his voice captivates. It's not difficult to understand Jane's attraction to him. He plays the angry Rochester as well as the fun and the loving Rochester very well although at times he seems a bit too teathrical. Clarke looks just plain and contained enough to be Jane and although she doesn't look as young as Jane should be at the time that didn't really bother me. I really liked the actress playing young Jane with her outbursts of revolt and could see the older Jane learning to master her temper to the point that when Clarke displays some childlike behaviour (like when Bessie visits her at school) I was almost surprised by it.
Regarding the secondary cast, and as far as I remember all the characters from the book show up, they were very good and delivered solid performances that only added to the final success.
So, although the 2006 version is still my favourite and Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson are still my Rochester and my Jane Eyre, this is actually an interesting series that made me want to reread the book and definitely watching more of the older series so I can compare them.
I watched this as a part of the All About The Brontës Challenge.