Jane Eyre (1934)
Director: William Christy Cabanne
Notable Cast: Virginia Bruce, Colin Clive, Beryl Mercer
This movie was the first “talkie” adaptation of Jane Eyre. Unpopular with critics who considered it a shallow and unfaithful adaptation, this movie lightened the tone of the novel and tried to eliminate scandalous elements. Because Virginia Bruce is notably blonde and beautiful, the film dispensed with Jane’s plainness, with even Blanche Ingram noting her beauty.
Jane Eyre (1943)
Director: Robert Stevenson
Notable Cast: Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine
One of the best-known film versions, this adaptation was influenced by the Mercury Theatre on the Air radio adaptation of the novel, which Welles collaborated on. The film omits the St. John plotline, and instead has Jane return to Gateshead after the halted wedding, where she stays until Mrs. Reed’s death.
Jane Eyre (1949)
Director: Franklin Schaffner
Notable Cast: Charlton Heston, Mary Sinclair
This television adaptation was part of the Studio One television series that showed hour-long dramas throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Because the one-hour television slot also contained commercials, the story is extremely edited, omitting Gateshead and St. John altogether.
Jane Eyre (1952)
Director: Jack Gage
Notable Cast: Katharine Bard, Eva Leonard Boyne, Hamish Cochrane
This television adaptation is another Studio One production. Because of the one-hour time slot, they condensed the story, omitting the Reeds, Lowood, and St. John. In this version, Jane nearly takes a position in Ireland after assuming Rochester intends to marry Blanche Ingram.
Jane Eyre (1956)
Director: Campbell Logan
Notable Cast: Stanley Baker, Daphne Slater
This six-part television series produced by the BBC is one of the few early British television series to survive. Although difficult to find a copy, the series used its small budget to create a reasonably faithful adaptation.
Jane Eyre (1970)
Director: Delbert Mann
Notable Cast: George C. Scott, Susannah York, Ian Bannen
This British film adaptation only had a television release in the United States. Like many shorter adaptations of the novel, this version hurries past Jane’s childhood to focus on the love story between Jane and Rochester. Critics did not find Scott or York convincing in their portrayal of the film’s leads.
Jane Eyre (1973)
Director: Joan Craft
Notable Cast: Sorcha Cusack, Michael Jayston
This five-part miniseries created for the BBC maintained great fidelity to the book.
Jane Eyre (1983)
Director: Julian Amyes
Notable Cast: Zelah Clarke, Timothy Dalton
This BBC miniseries consists of 11 half-hour episodes and remains largely faithful to the book. It is generally favorably received by critics and fans.
Jane Eyre (1996)
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Notable Cast: William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joan Plowright
This adaptation tones down the Gothic elements of the story to focus on the love between Jane and Rochester. In service of this goal, the film rushes through Jane’s childhood, cutting many plot threads before she arrives at Thornfield. The film received overall positive reviews, but many critics felt William Hurt had been miscast as Rochester.
Jane Eyre (1997)
Director: Robert Young
Notable Cast: Ciarán Hinds, Samantha Morton
This television movie production for Britain’s ITV network received a lukewarm reception. It omits Mrs. Reed’s death and Jane’s inheritance, along with the familial connection between Jane and St. John.
Jane Eyre (2006)
Director: Susanna White
Notable Cast: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens
This BBC television adaptation contains four episodes. While largely faithful to the novel, it reduces the amount of time spent on Jane’s childhood and her stay with the Rivers family. Critics in general praised the series for its ability to bring the novel to life and the acting of its leads.
Jane Eyre (2011)
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Notable Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench
Unlike the novel, this adaptation tells Jane’s story through a series of flashbacks. Fukunaga has stated that he wanted to play up the Gothic elements of the novel, which he felt other films overlooked. The film received positive reviews, with critics praising Wasikowska for her portrayal of Jane.