Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

June 29, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:41 pm

Update: Jane Eyre 1963 and Villette 1970

The internet is a marvellous thing. I am astounded by how quickly this search is going. Before I started keeping this blog, work was slow and frustrating. Being in touch with so many Brontephiles like myself is making my work go far more smoothly!

The newest information comes from Bronteana reader, LaMcKay. There is both good and bad news. The bad news is that the 1963 version of Jane Eyre, with Richard Leech and Ann Bell (the photo I discovered earlier this week from this production is here), is unlikely to be released. The current opinion is that the series is missing two of its six episodes- episodes two and three. While most of us would loudly cry that this is no reason to hold it back, it would look awful to the marketting deptartment I’m sure if one third of the production were missing.

The good news is that the current opinion is that Villette survived the archive purge intact! This gives me great hope that it could be released someday. LaMcKay suggests that Jane Eyre could be released with it as bonus material, but I think it is unlikely. What they might do would be to put together a boxed set. To my knowledge there have been no boxed set of Bronte films- only discounts if you buy Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It is a thought. I must say that the interest in a ‘new’ Bronte work- which is neither Jane Eyre nor Wuthering Heights- should be immense. Add this ‘lost’ footage, and 1968 Tenant of Wildfell Hall (I am not sure this one exists, to be fair) and a loss just isn’t an option. Everyone will want to have this collection I am absolutely certain.



  1. I would be crazed with happiness if I could watch BBC’s Villette! Why do you think many producers never touch Villette? Do you think Lucy’s lack of a detailed childhood scares script writers away? (I’m currently in the process of re-reading Villette, so it’s heavy on my mind…such an excellent book!)I do hope they release it!

    Comment by mandyjoy — June 30, 2006 @ 10:57 am |Reply

  2. Oh, I don’t think the screenwriters are the problem. I have read parts of several excellent screenplays for Villette (only parts because the writers don’t want people to copy their work of course). I imagine that it is more complex and touchy a subject than most period dramas. You’re dealing with some very realistic psychological trauma not of the over-blown type that film makers are used to working with. And then there’s the religious aspect of the story which, unlike Jane Eyre, cannot be glossed over.

    Comment by Brontëana — June 30, 2006 @ 11:12 am |Reply

  3. Do you think Lucy’s lack of a detailed childhood scares script writers away?
    Probably. Villette is full of mystery. I think the mystery comes out best in the language on the page, although I should think a clever script as well as special effects could work on film.
    I also think that it is best enjoyed read, like Wuthering Heights, which is difficult for any film-maker to portray.

    I do think, however, that Villette is a difficult book, with a difficult story, and difficult characters. It is this fact, I believe, that might have made it less popular with film-makers and readers alike. Jane Eyre, a more predictable story, is more easy-going on the average reader than Villette, as evidenced by the myriad adaptations we have of the former.

    such an excellent book!
    I couldn’t agree with you more! I think Villette is Charlotte Bronte at her best. It is truly a masterpiece.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — June 30, 2006 @ 11:13 am |Reply

  4. It would be interesting seeing Villette in musical form, though I’ve never heard of such. There is great depth to the book, and I think so much could be done with it, though it would take a whole lot more than some high flown hollywood slapping together. It would be terrible to see it glossed over a just a love story- not that love stories are bad, but it would be frustrating if the psychological aspect of the novel played down. Perhaps it would need a genius to tackle it (movie, or musical)

    Comment by mandyjoy — June 30, 2006 @ 11:33 am |Reply

  5. It would make a great ballet I think. Or an opera with the NUN appearing at intervals like the statue in Don Giovanni. If it were ever adapted to film or TV, it would have to be v. director-y I think – to show the slightly distorted, visionary POV of Lucy, and to frame quite deliberately some of the scenes described so gorgeously and cinematically in the novel – Rosine in the sunbeam, Paul rooting through Lucy’s desk surrounded by a cloud of cigar smoke, Lucy in front of Cleopatra.

    I do worry that the 1970 version has been forgotten because it isn’t very good (it is the same era as that v. dodgy version of Persuasion) on the other hand, the director and writer had done costume dramas before, and both leads are excellent and well respected.

    Comment by Liz — June 30, 2006 @ 12:11 pm |Reply

  6. to mandyjoy:

    Paul Gordon who composed Jane Eyre: THe Musical has always said that the idea for the show was a bit of an accident. He was at an airport bookshop and picked up Jane Eyre and Villette. He happened to read Jane Eyre first. Otherwise, so he says, he might have made Villette: The Musical 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — June 30, 2006 @ 4:48 pm |Reply

  7. Ah fate! Somebody should tell Gordon to keep on reading and writing! No reason to stop a Jane Eyre! Oh, and the idea of Paul rooting through Lucy’s desk, surronded by smoke (lovely stage smoke machines that we always played around with back stage in my theatre classes…), makes me smile :’) Heck, if I knew how to read music (here I hang my head in shame), then maybe I’d give a go at writing something. One more complaint. Besided this blog, and the bronte blog, I haven’t been able to find many websites on the web dedicated to Villette. This has to change (and here, again, if I only knew how!).

    Comment by mandyjoy — June 30, 2006 @ 9:17 pm |Reply

  8. to mandyjoy:

    I think this site is still up- I think it is the only site purely devoted to Villette.

    I remember making a picture for someone once that illustrated a scene from my ‘Villette: The Musical’ just for fun- it was M. Paul singing “C’est Tout?” 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — July 1, 2006 @ 12:17 am |Reply

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