Throughout history, the stories of pirates, both real and fiction have fascinated humanity. Whether they are seen as bloodthirsty and uncivilized criminals or rebels who didn’t give a sh*t about what others thought of them, there is no doubt that we are drawn to them.
The television series, Black Sails (2014-2017) followed the adventures of a band of pirates as they live and try to survive in the Bahamas in the 18th century. The list of real pirates includes Calico Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz), Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) and Charles Vane (Zach McGowan). In addition to historical pirates, there are fictional pirates from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island: John Silver (Luke Arnold) , Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and Billy Bones (Tom Hopper).
Black Sails is one of my favorite shows of the past few years. While the show’s main characters did not live what some would call the most moral of lives, they were not all bad. They were fully fleshed out human beings, warts and all. I also loved the diversity of the cast and the fact that the female characters were treated with the same respect as the male characters.
In the mind of the modern person, the pirates of the 18th century who roamed the Caribbean seas are viewed through PG, Disneyfied rose colored glasses.
The reality of that world and the people who inhabited it is far from what we think it is to be.
The television series Black Sails brings together fictional pirates and real life pirates who once inhabited the Caribbean seas. While characters like John Silver (Luke Arnold) and Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) come from the world of literature, Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and Anne Bonny (Clara Padget) lived and breathed the life of an 18th century Caribbean pirate. Adding to the story is a prostitute, Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the daughter of a kingpin who operates a semi-legitimate business.
What I liked about this series is that the rose colored glasses are knocked off the face of the viewer immediately. This is a warts and all story of men and women who chose to forge an independent and often times dangerous life as pirates. This life is dangerous, dirty, bloody and not for the faint of heart.
When referring to the Bronte’s, many will often refer only to Charlotte and Emily, leaving the youngest Bronte, Anne out of the picture.
Anne may not be as popular as her elder sisters. But her novels speak the truth about life, in her time and our time, without relying one the more dramatic story telling that exists in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.
Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer in rural England and a sought after potential husband by several of the unattached young women in area. A mysterious widow, Mrs. Graham, has recently rented Wildfell Hall. She is unknown to the people in the town, who turn to gossip when she is not so eager to share her past. In reality, she is not a widow, but a young wife, escaping from an abusive marriage with her young son and faithful servant.
In 1996, the book was adapted into a TV movie with Toby Stephens as Gilbert, Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs. Graham and Rupert Graves as the unknown, but abusive husband.
What I enjoy about the book and the movie is that the story is timeless. How many of us has fallen for prince or princess charming and soon after discovered their not so charming qualities? In the 1840’s, marriage was till death do us part. Divorce was rare and if it did happen, it created a scandal. Thankfully, we have laws in place today that protect those trying to get out of abusive relationships. At the same time, it is still extremely common to hear about people who have been injured or died at the hands of their romantic partners.
I recommend this book and movie not just because both are extremely good, but as a reminder of both how far we have come and how far we need to go.
If one were to judge Jane Eyre simply by her early life, one might say that she is doomed to be unlucky and unhappy. Jane is orphaned as a baby and raised in her deceased uncle’s home by an aunt who despises her. At the age of ten, she is taken to Lowood school, a charity school where the students are receiving subpar treatment. Eight years later, Jane leaves Lowood to work for the enigmatic and mysterious Mr. Rochester as the governess for his ward, Adele.
Charlotte Bronte’s classic 1847 novel has been remade on screen multiple times over the years. In this post, I’m going to write about my favorite Jane Eyre adaptations and let you decide which among the three is your favorite. The criteria for comparison remain as is:
How closely the screenplay mirrors the novel.
The chemistry between the actors, especially the potential love interests.
The age of the actors, if they are close enough in age to the character to be believable in the part.
If the locations chosen to film resemble the scenes from the book.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Sorcha Cusack), Mr. Rochester (Michael Jayston)
Pro’s: This TV adaption is the truest of any of the filmed adaptations. It’s as if Charlotte Bronte was somehow in the room with the production team. It is flawless, the actors are perfect in their parts. In short, I have nothing but praise for this adaptation.
Cons: The only con that I can think of is that it is 41 years old. It looks 41 years old.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Ruth Wilson), Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens)
Pro’s: Another flawless production. Sandy Welch’s screen play mirrors the novel. Wilson and Stephens have it, whatever it is, that actors have when they are playing certain characters. They are on fire on screen. The viewer (especially this viewer) has the feeling that when this mini-series is over, Jane and Edward will have a very happy life together, in and out of the bedroom.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska), Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender)
Pro’s: Director Cary Fukanaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini take an unorthodox approach to story telling. The movie starts half way through the novel, after Jane has left Thornfield. The casting of Wasikowska and Fassbender was a brilliant choice. Both age appropriate, they are perfectly cast in their parts.
Cons: It is a movie vs. a mini-series, so not everything from the book got into the movie. But I’m pretty satisfied with this adaptation.