Jane Eyre and the cultural divide between the English and the French
Jane Eyre is not funny. During most of the movie, I was fraught with emotion as I watched the tormented love story between the poor governess and the brooding Mr. Rochester unfold. Yet there were a couple of scenes that provided moments of pure comedic relief for the French audience in Paris last night. The first was when Mr. Rochester's coquettish charge sings a French tune for Jane and Mrs. Fairfax, played by the indomitable Judi Dench. When Adele innocently mimics her mother's gestures, which were far more appropriate for a dance hall performer than a young girl with curls, Mrs. Fairfax dryly proclaims, "How very French". This one sentence, uttered in true Judi Dench style, exemplifies the vast distance that separates the cultures of the two countries. And the French audience loved it!
The second scene occurred shortly thereafter when Adele again mimics her French mother's feminine wiles as she thanks Mr. Rochester for a frock bedecked with ribbons and bows. When Adele asks if she has correctly expressed her gratitude, Rochester assures her that she acted just like all of the grown-up French women who charm English money out of Englishmen's pockets. Was the Parisian audience insulted by this slight on their national character? Apparently, not in the least because they all laughed appreciatively.
On Thursday morning, I'm going to cross the great divide and travel to the land of afternoon tea, the Queen and self discipline. Judi Dench's comment in Jane Eyre made me realize that I should probably leave my bright tangerine blazer in Paris and pack clothes that are more appropriate for the cold and windy moors of Derbyshire. If I owned a period dress, I would be tempted to wear it when we visit Haddon Hall, the old English manor house that played the part of Thornfield Hall in the movie. After I was able to book their special "Jane Eyre - Behind the Scenes" tour for Saturday, Stéphane and I decided to make an impromptu trip to the cinema last night to prepare for our visit.
We'll be staying in Buxton on Thursday and Friday and the village of Alstonefield in the Peak District National Park on Saturday and Sunday. Our accommodations and some of our dinners are booked. Now, I just need to find a place for afternoon tea in Buxton. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!