Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eyre-athon: Rochester Hot-o-meter

So let's judge some men on their attractiveness, yes?  WRONG!  It's time to judge them as 'Rochesters'.  Rochester is noted for not being all that handsome but having an allure nonetheless.  He is supposed to be brutish and in his 30s.  He should have a darker look to him--brown hair, dark eyes--but not as exotic looking as sister Emily's Heathcliff.  Let the judging begin!

1934 Version: Colin Clive's Rochester with his Jane (Virginia Bruce)
Score: 8/10 (Above-Average Rochester) 
Wow, Dr. Frankenstein!  What a good Rochester you make!  He isn't traditionally handsome but there is something attractive about him, I must say.  And he's a larger man (I'm not calling him a fatty, by the way) which I always imagined Rochester would be.  Yay 1934 version for getting it nearly right!  There is something a bit 'pretty' about him, yes?  Which is a big no-no for Rochester.  He ain't a pretty-boy.

1943's Orson Welles as Rochester with J-Fontaine

Score: 6/10 (Surprisingly Hot But Still Mis-matched Rochester)

You may be thinking 'but Matt!  Welles actually looks kind of HOT in that picture!' and in that case I certainly agree.  But that picture is not all that indicative of how attractive he is in the film.  He looks gussied up for that promotional photo.  More importantly is the fact that he just isn't Rochester, and that falls more on his performance than his looks.  He doesn't give Rochester any redeeming qualities, which made me almost forget that he actually looks sort of attractive in the film.  Yes Rochester's looks are important (as this article is arguing) but that can all be thrown to shit if he isn't played well! 

Timothy Dalton with that cancer Zelah Clarke
Score: 4/10 (Blerg Bond Rochester)
I want to believe in Timothy Dalton, I really do.  But he is too suave and has too much of that James Bond swagger and charm to make a good Rochester.  I'm still beasting through the mini-series and his performance is quite good, but looks-wise he is a very inappropriate Rochester.  There's nothing questionable about his morals just by looking at him, and all of the other Rochesters have a mystery to them.  They can also strike much fear into their Janes, and Dalton seems incapable of doing so.  

William Hurt's Rochester and Gainsbourg's Jane Eyre at the interrupted wedding!
Score: 5/10 (Inadvertently Gentle Rochester)
I am so on the fence with this one, guys.  I actually believe in him at moments (because his performance is pretty good), but I just look at his face and laugh.  He would've been my last choice for a Rochester in terms of his looks for the simple fact that he looks harmless.  Even when he is supposed to be scary and curt and moody he comes across as just a tad bit perturbed.  If I were Charlotte Gainsbourg's Jane I would think him pathetic!  He makes a good effort though so I have to give him points for that!

Ciaran Hind's Rochester with Sammy Morton's Jane
Score: 9/10 (Near-Perfect Rochesterness)
Oh Ciaran Hinds.  You scare the bejesus out of me.  There's something about him that is so creepy and malevolent but his Rochester exploits that when needed and otherwise covers it up with an allure that is unexplainable.  The man is quite genius.  I just wish he didn't look so old, because he looks like he's in his 40s, and Rochester shouldn't be quite as old.  It adds a creepy underscore to the relationship that shouldn't be as obvious.  Their love certainly starts out as a bit creepy since he is older in the novel (although the 19th century wouldn't have thought it all that creepy) but this version exploits that.  I can see why he was cast though, as he makes quite a good Rochester.  So kudos!

Toby Stephen's Rochester with Ruth Wilson's Jane
Score: 3/10 (The Austen Rochester)
Toby Stephen's Rochester is swoon-worthy.  He obviously is well, built, he has a gorgeously handsome face, and beautiful blue eyes you could get lost in.  And yet, that is not Rochester at all.  This Rochester resembles much more of a hero in an Austen novel.  Yes, he's flawed, but he's also soooo handsome and soooo dreamy and sooo in love with our protagonist, but just watch how something goes wrong and he has to win back her and her family's trust and then they get together and live happily ever after ZOMG.  That is not the story of Jane Eyre.  Sorry Toby Stephens, but I just can condone you.

Michael Fassbender's Rochester and Mia Wasikowska's Jane

Score: ?/10 (Potentially Perfect Rochester)

I haven't seen the new Jane Eyre yet because if I had I'd be writing it up non-stop here at Cinephilia & Sass, so I unfortunately can't judge his hotness in relation to his performance as Rochester.  I will say that he seems as though he could be the perfect Rochester.  He's handsome in a very masculine way, but not overly so.  He has dark hair and eyes and seems like he'll be able to turn on the steely glances and backhanded remarks just as easily as the charm and seduction.  He could surpass Hinds' Rochester purely because he doesn't look too much older than Mia's Jane.  I have very high hopes that this could be a 10/10, but I've been let down before.  (It must be said that I have never been let down by Mr. Fassbender, so let's hope that trend continues!)

If any of you lovers disagree with my opinions, please comment!  I'd love to hear any conflicting opinions as my own are purely subjective to my movie-watching experiences!


  1. Build-wise, Toby Stephens is a very good match. Rochester's supposed to be broad-chested and more of a medium height and not tall and slender. Looks-wise, I think Timothy Dalton looks the part quite a bit, but then I have never taken a shine to his looks anyway. ;) At the time the book was written, the ideal was Grecian profile and blonde hair - Rochester was dark and rugged, so he was considered "ugly" by his peers, but that's not to say he was actually a troll.

    The person who has done the best job with portraying the character from Charlotte Brontë's book so far IMHO is Toby Stephens (and possibly Fassbender, but I won't know until September, when JE'11 opens in the UK). He's the only one who has got the WHOLE personality of the character in there, not just latched on to a particular trait and gone full speed ahead, forgetting everything else. (Hinds is WAY too angry!)

    Oh, and I just thought, you're missing two, both from the 1970s: George C Scott (with Susannah York) and Michael Jayston (with Sorcha Cusack). The first one (a film) is ... not very good at all, the second (a BBC miniseries) follows the book very well and is rather enjoyable. Check 'em out! :)

  2. Toby Stephen's performance is very good, Traxy, I can't help but agree. Definitely one of the better Rochesters performance-wise! Really good point about how his Rochester is complex and full-bodied as opposed to taking one character trait and exploiting it. Hinds is definitely WAY to angry. I mean, he scowls through the whole thing!

    I always interpreted Rochester's description in the novel not necessarily as trollish but as average-looking. I love hearing other reader's perceptions of him, so thanks Traxy!

    And for time's sake I had to cut out the 70s adaptations for the Eyre-a-thon, but I will definitely check them out! Susannah York makes a gorgeous Jane Eyre. Perhaps inappropriate, haha, but I was mesmerized!

  3. My daughter and I happen to be a ardent lovers of the Jane Eyre sagas also, and were quite excited to come upon this page. My personal all time favorite is Orson Welles, love him! and my daughters all time favorite is Timothy Dalton, the new Jane Eyre was sadly lacking, and i was disappointed, I would love to have Emma Thompson write a screenplay of this beloved story, since she did so well with Sense and Sensability and Pride and Prejudice. I liked reading your commentary on each of the Mr Rochesters and would like to see you do a similar page for the Jane Eyres, thanks for the page again

  4. Timothy Dalton - too theatrical
    Toby Stephens - too good looking
    Michael Fassbender - too boyish
    William Hurt - too subdued
    Ciaran Hinds - the (almost) ultimate Rochester
    .................? - the ideal Rochester