I came across this version on DVD not having been previously aware of its existence; before this I favoured the Timothy Dalton/Zelah Clarke version made ten years later as definitive.
But this version is surprisingly good and quite charming. It keeps closely to the book both in characterisation and in text, and has a likable pair of leads in Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston.
Cusack at first did not make me think of Jane Eyre, as I found her a little too quizzical, too mocking. However, as the drama progressed I found myself becoming absorbed in her performance and in her interactions with Jayston’s sardonic Rochester.
You can believe that these two have an attraction that, at first, perhaps neither of them can define or understand. It is a connection of souls, not based on looks or on any standard form of affection.
The French pupil, Adele, is also full of energy and very much like the little girl in the book. No pretence here that she is anything other than the master of the house’s illegitimate daughter, as Jane is made aware of this very early on.
Even though in its production values its age is showing, this version of Jane Eyre is impressive and well deserving of a new generation of viewers in its new format. It sits well alongside the many other versions and, I think, is the equal of the 1983 version if not, in some respects, slightly better.