Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)

5.71 h 38 min1993R
A prequel to "Jane Eyre." An Englishman in nineteenth-century Jamaica falls into a tortured marriage with a native Creole.
John Duigan
Karina LombardNathaniel ParkerRachel Ward
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Michael YorkMartine BeswickClaudia RobinsonHuw Christie WilliamsCasey BernaRowena KingBen ThomasNaomi Watts
Jan SharpKaren Koch
New Line
R (Restricted)
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4.0 out of 5 stars

185 global ratings

  1. 50% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 22% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 16% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 7% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

taajReviewed in the United States on August 14, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
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I heard this was racy. Maybe for its time, but it's pretty tame now.

I wanted to see the backstory to Mr. Rochester and his wife. This was really a disappointment. It doesn't really explain the disparity between the character in this movie and the character in Jane Eyre. I really wanted to love this.
One person found this helpful
JOSE J GONZALEZReviewed in the United States on September 10, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Not a great film but, quite enjoyable
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I watched this film in a movie theater in NYC when it was released. Loved it so, I bought it on VHS. When I bought the NC17 on DVD, the disc would not play on my regionless Pioneer! It plays on my new DVR player Amazon just delivered. It is great to be able to watch the NC17 version.
2 people found this helpful
KP in TucsonReviewed in the United States on December 21, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
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If I wasn't curious about supposed background for Jane Eyre, this wouldn't have been very interesting. Kind of like what the book "Healthcliff" was to Wuthering Heights, or the books "Scarlett" and "Rhett Butler's People" were to GWTW. None of them as good as original story, but interesting spin-offs.
One person found this helpful
W. G. McCaslenReviewed in the United States on July 5, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Tense Erotic Sad Period Movie
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I found this movie to be well done, tense, erotic, Jamaican voodoo culture, 1840s period piece, but sad. Karina Lombard is beautiful.
2 people found this helpful
Gil stirReviewed in the United States on August 16, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Adaptation of a classic but the director forgot the scenery was the star
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Not enough time spent on the scenery otherwise evocative but you have to supply the memories of the beauty of the place yourself ,
One person found this helpful
A. MasionReviewed in the United States on December 13, 2005
3.0 out of 5 stars
I tried, but I really couldn't understand.
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For the record I've never read "Wide Sargasso Sea" although I've read "Jane Eyre" quite a few times. I've always figured Edward Rochester was a bad man. Every relationship he had with women before his involvement with Jane ended badly. With one lunatic wife and one dead mistress...Well...

I admit to feeling equal parts awe and disappointment with this film. It wasn't that the erotic excesses offended me; I just felt less attention to erotic love scenes and more attention to the rather heavy themes in story would have made things more interesting.

The movie is not consistent with Rochester's portrayal in Jane Eyre or his explanations of his marriage to Antoinette. The implication is that Antoinette was descended from lunatics and was also a notorious adulteress (there were even hints her insanity was the result of syphilis in "Jane Eyre"). Antoinette's brother in the novel, Richard Mason, is completely eliminated as a character.

In the movie, Antoinette is presented as a lonely orphan with no close family to cover up her alleged madness and "vices".

There are other inconsistencies that just stray too far from Rochester's explanations as well as Bronte's novel to keep a true Bronte fan engaged.

Antoinette and Amelie are two-dimensional characters, competing for the sexual favors of Antoinette's loser husband who doesn't particularly like or respect either one of them.

It looks like the brains behind the film could not decide whether Edward Rochester was a racist libertine or a victim of circumstance. The balance is tipped by saddistic behavior (i.e., killing animals and brutalizing his young wife.) He is basically a fortune-hunter who does not hesitate to despise his wife's cultural differences once he's acquired her wealth and properties.

I think the writers hoped to create a theme of Black/African female empowerment by having Amelie seduce Rochester, then accept a gift of money from him and walk out of his life to become a whore.

Also, it is never clear to me when/how Antoinette went mad. She does not strike me as mad or even unstable in the course of the film although she does portray classic alcoholism and depression after her husband's abandonment. Surely no one presumes she is psychopathic because she tried to club Rochester with with a glass bottle and spit in his face after he had loud noisy sex with Amelie just outside her bedroom!

Even the portrayal of Daniel Cosway is sort of weird. One minute he appears to be affectionate towards Antoinette (his half-sister) and the next he is bound and determined to do everything he possibly can to ruin her marriage and destroy any opportunity for her happiness.

The two actresses who portray Aunt Cora and Christophine deliver solid performances and Lombard does her best with her role and makes the most of her improbable lingerie (midriff-baring camisoles were not around in 1840.)

The film has lush beautiful scenes and an almost fantasy quality about it and costume quality is good except for inaccutate lingerie. I think it's best to watch and appreciate the film for what it is and not worry too much about accuracy with its actual novel or Jane Eyre. As an erotic romance gone bad it's a keeper.
7 people found this helpful
city girlReviewed in the United States on July 21, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars
Feminist Response to Jane Eyre
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This is a great response to Bronte's Jane Eyre. Here we get Edward Rochester's wife's version of the story. She portrays Rochester as a second son who travels to the Caribbean seeking a rich wife. Instead of the Byronic hero that Bronte depicts, here Rochester is a young, selfish, Englishman who disregards the needs of his wife as well as all the pledges he made to her prior to her acceptance of his marriage proposal. Typical of his class, he indulges his desires selfishly. After his brother dies unexpectantly, he inherits his family's money and position. Then contrary to all his previous promises he uproots the youthful and very innocent Antoinette (Bertha in the Bronte novel) and drags her off to his foriegn and bleak homeland. I use this movie often in my Women's Lit courses in conjunction with the 1944 version of Jane Eyre. The Wide Sargasso Sea has some rather erotic love scenes that the more conservative of my students find offensive, but I always make it available to my students with the requisite disclaimers. It is a lushly beautiful film. Its setting and cinematography alone make it worth viewing.
11 people found this helpful
Paulette CarterReviewed in the United States on November 20, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent read! A possibility prelude to “Jane Eyre”
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I love this book that I had to read For English class but so worthwhile the forerunner of Jane Eyre!
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