The Bronte Sisters
"The Bronte Sisters," a 1979 French film by André Téchiné remastered to Blu-ray, will thrill diehard fans of the Bronte writers with its copious information about this tragic literary family. But for those who couldn't care less about the authors of "Jane Eyre," "Wuthering Heights," "Agnes Grey," or "Penmaenmawr," fuhgeddaboutit.
Téchiné's film about the three sisters, Charlotte, Anne and Emily, their dissolute brother, Branwell, and their quiet lives in a Yorkshire parsonage, moves at a painfully glacial pace. Dramatic moments are left hanging, providing way too many what Téchiné calls cinematic 'ellipses.'
On the other hand, Téchiné beautifully evokes the bleak, wild atmosphere of 19th-century Haworth village and its surrounding landscapes. Vistas of heathered moors, bubbling streams, fierce winds and driving rains call to mind similar images in the Brontes' works. The film masterfully blends biography and references to the Brontes' literary works, revealing how the authors' environment and experiences informed their masterpieces.
The biopic is greatly enhanced by the Blu-ray's additional materials, including a feature-length audio commentary provided by NPR's critic Wade Major and Bronte scholar Sue Lonoff de Cuevas. As the two parse the movie, revealing metaphors, references and contexts, suddenly those with only a slim knowledge of these famous sisters, can appreciate Téchiné's depths and subtleties as a film-maker and storyteller. An hour-long documentary of interviews with Téchiné and others provides further insights and tidbits about the tensions amongst the cast and crew, making this Blu-ray well worthwhile for any Bronte aficionado.
"The Bronte Sisters"