Like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre has a timeless quality and an equally timeless appeal that makes it a natural to adapt to film. The story has been filmed nearly two dozen times, including the famous 1944 film starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine.
The 2011 version of Jane Eyre stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as Jane and Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) as Rochester and — in much the same way that the hotel in The Shining became a character in the film — Haddon Hall in Derbyshire as Rochester’s home, Thornfield Hall. Haddon is one of the oldest houses in England and is in the same region which was believed to have inspired Brontë when she wrote the novel. It also had the advantage of being vacant for the last 200 years, and its owners deliberately kept the feel of a 1700 estate. Because no one lives there, the film crew also had great flexibility when working there.
This enabled the Jane Eyre crew to better recreate the specific period in which the story is set — the 1830s and 40s. Production designer Will Hughes-Jones says, “Haddon was a predominantly blank canvas that could become our Thornfield. It is actually mostly empty, so we had to furnish the rooms we wanted to use; putting curtains up in a room with more than two dozen windows, or filling up a room to become a store room of furniture.”
The house has such a presence that it has been used in numerous other films, including Elizabeth and The Princess Bride.
“What rings true from [Jane Eyre] is how intimidated Jane would have been when she first comes to a house like this one,” comments Haddon’s head steward, Jo Walker.
“Jane Eyre” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Universal Studios