Jane Eyre is a 1996 American, British, French and Italian romantic epic and dramatic feature film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel Jane Eyre. This Hollywood version, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is similar to the original novel, although it compresses and eliminates most of the plot in the last quarter of the book (the running away, the trials and tribulations, new found relations, and new job) to condense it into a 2-hour movie.
Jane Eyre (portrayed as the orphan child by Anna Paquin and as an adult by Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a plain, impoverished young woman hired by Mr. Rochester (William Hurt) through Mrs. Fairfax (Joan Plowright) to work as a governess for Adèle (Josephine Serre). Despite her mild unprepossessing nun-like manner, Jane has strong hidden passions and shows her strong character through expressing her opinions and showing resolve in times of trouble. Rochester is a Byronic anti-hero, tortured and tormented by family troubles, past injustices and secrets. Rochester and Jane develop a mutual affinity. They fall in love and the marriage date is set. What Jane does not realize is that she must share the estate and, ultimately, Mr. Rochester with his wife, Bertha (Maria Schneider), who is mentally ill and is confined in an upstairs attic with a nurse, Grace Poole (Billie Whitelaw).