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Jane Eyre--the mother of all gothic romances--gets abundant passion in this 11-episode BBC miniseries. Young Sian Pattenden is wonderfully willful and impetuous; viewers will immediately identify with the child Jane as she fights against ill-treatment at the home of her aunt and at boarding school. It's a shame to see her grow up into Zelah Clarke--until Clarke asserts her own quiet yet fierce spirit. The plot really starts rolling when Jane takes a position as governess at Thornfield, a handsome estate owned by the imperious and tortured Mr. Rochester (Timothy Dalton, a few years before he became James Bond). From there, this 1983 adaptation rips through the perilous highs and devastating lows of Charlotte Bronte's powerful novel, in which the courtship of these two prickly personalities gets twists and turns galore. Though the visual style is a bit pedestrian, the well-crafted script and skillful performances grow more gripping with every episode. The necessary feverishness springs from simple yet effective means, like macabre laughter floating down the halls of Thornfield. The scenes between Clarke and Dalton crackle with chemistry; Bronte fans will not be disappointed.

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WAE2189 Jane Eyre DVD (1983/Timothy Dalton) $14.98