The sweeping moors, the melodrama, the passionate declarations of love in spite of class conflict, or “dead” wives—it’s the Brontë sisters’ world and we’re just living in it. Luckily, every few years there’s a new movie adaptation of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights for the die-hard fans like us who believe their knowledge of these novels make them more equipped than any casting director living.
From the Brontë heyday of the 1970s to 2011’s Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender, here are the best Brontë movie adaptations out there. Vote for your favorite!
Jane Eyre, 2011
We’ve got two words for you: Michael Fassbender. Okay, so technically six words: Michael Fassbender not wearing any pants. Aside from his dashing good looks, Fassbender does have the acting chops to play the elusive Mr. Rochester. And though it might be a bit of a stretch to see the gorgeous Mia Wasikowska as our favorite “poor, obscure, plain and little” heroine, she does an excellent job driving Jane’s stubbornness and independence home. With the superb directing of Cary Fukunaga (of True Detective), this version is at the least, respectable, and one might even say: beautifully done.
Jane Eyre, 2006
If you watch Showtime’s The Affair, then you are well-acquainted with the charms of actress Ruth Wilson. In this 2006 BBC adaptation, she plays the titular heroine Jane Eyre, in what we deem nearly perfect casting. Wilson captures Jane’s toughness and her rough childhood with aplomb. The series received largely positive reviews, and was praised for sticking to Charlotte Brontë’s original story.
Buy it on Amazon.
Jane Eyre, 1983
Perhaps because of his portrayal of Heathcliff in 1970’s Wuthering Heights, Timothy Dalton returned to the land of the Brontës as Edward Rochester in this 1983 mini-series version of Jane Eyre. Produced by the BBC and shot at English manse Deene Park, those who delight in the 70s melodrama in Dalton’s performance as Heathcliff will love him as Rochester.
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Wuthering Heights, 2009
We have two more words for you: Tom Hardy. In this mini-series adaptation of Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Hardy plays Heathcliff to Charlotte Riley’s Cathy. Though the series received mixed reviews (especially for Tom Hardy’s rather ridiculous wig), Riley and Hardy became a couple in real life (!) and are now married. In 2015, they welcomed their first child together. Wuthering Heights: bringing people together.
Stream it on Amazon.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, 1992
You’re entitled to your own opinion, but this 1992 version starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche is our personal favorite. Namely because the filmmakers have fun with the second generation (Healthcliff, Hindley and Cathy’s children) by casting Juliette Binoche as both Cathy Earnshaw and her daughter, Cathy Linton. (Hence emphasizing their striking resemblance.) Fun side note: Apparently Steven Spielberg was so impressed by Ralph Fiennes “dark sexuality” (tell us something we don’t know) that he later went on to cast him as Amon Goeth in 1993’s Schindler's List.
Wuthering Heights, 1970
English hunky actor Timothy Dalton, best known for his portrayal of James Bond in The Living Daylights and License to Kill, was the original Heathcliff in this 1970 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights. His casting perhaps contributes to the fact that the character of Heathcliff is so often misunderstood as being an English gentleman. In actuality, he is described as a “gypsy foundling” of Romanian extraction. Though this film deviates from Emily Brontë’s novel considerably, there is a sort of ridiculous 70s charm to it.
Buy it on Amazon.