Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:58 pm by M. in , ,    2 comments
Lots of movies and news outlets such as The Independent, The Telegraph, USA Today, The Age, Playbill, etc. are reporting the sad news of the death of the actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011). As they all mention, she is, of course, remembered in Brontëland as the Helen Burns of the classic Jane Eyre 1944 which she played just before her first hit on National Velvet. Msnbc says,
She was eerily affecting in a tiny role in “Jane Eyre,” as the heroine’s sickly young friend, though her precocious contribution was not recognized at the time. (John Hartl)
Picture Source

EDIT 24 March 2011: More news outlets are commenting on her role as Helen Burns:

The Times:
The next year she played the consumptive Helen Burns in Jane Eyre, such a tiny part that she did not even receive a screen credit.
Salon, quoting from David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film:
In her next film, "Jane Eyre" (44, Robert Steven- son), she was like a young Lizzie Siddall as the child who dies.
The New York Times:
“Remind me to be around when she grows up,” Orson Welles joked after watching the 10-year-old Ms. Taylor shoot a scene in “Jane Eyre.” It’s a half-funny, queasy comment and however made in jest (or so you hope), it’s also a reminder of the predators that were always lurking and could have swallowed Ms. Taylor whole. (Manohla Dargis)
The London Evening Standard:
A rigid, often cruel, studio system milked and manipulated Taylor's sultry image as early as Jane Eyre (1944), when she was just 12 years old. (James Christopher)
The age disparity seems to stem from whether they are taking the filming or the release of the film into account.

EDIT 25 March 2011:

From The New Yorker:
“Ever since I saw the child, two or three years ago, in I forget what minor role in what movie, I have been choked with the peculiar sort of adoration I might have felt if we were both in the same grade in primary school.” So James Agee wrote about Elizabeth Taylor (most likely referring to her performance in “Jane Eyre”) in The Nation, after seeing her in “National Velvet” in 1944. (David Denby)
EDIT 26 March 2011:
From Washington Post:
“My most vivid memory of Elizabeth Taylor is my most recent. In anticipation of the latest adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ a few weeks ago, I revisited the 1943 version starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, which I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. And there, in early scenes of Jane Eyre’s sad childhood at Lowood School, was Taylor — who looks to be around 10 years old — in an uncredited performance as Jane’s consumptive friend Helen Burns. Her scenes are brief but indelible in that movie, her famous double-lashed eyes flashing like liquid embers, and each time she’s on the screen, she all but obliterates her young co-star Peggy Ann Garner. Even in 1943, Taylor had already appeared in two movies; her next, ‘National Velvet,’ would make her a bona fide star. But in those fleeting, incandescent scenes in ‘Jane Eyre,’ Taylor proved she was a real actress of focus, fire and mesmerizing force.” (Ann Hornaday)
The Weekly Standard:
There was something within, a still serenity, as though the fact that she had not only retained the eerie gorgeousness of her adolescence (as seen in such classics as the 1943 Jane Eyre and the 1944 National Velvet) but had somehow actually improved on it gave her the confidence to know she had been blessed by the gods. (John Podhoretz)
EDIT 27 March 2011:
Is it accident or foreshadowing that one of her early roles was that of Helen Burns in “Jane Eyre”? Helen was the one friend, the one warm relationship, orphaned Jane had when she was a girl. (Pam Platt)
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  1. Very sad news. One of the greatest actresses (if not the greatest) of all time. Re-united with Richard Burton . A 4th marriage with Richard at the pearly gates perhaps?

  2. A 4th marriage with Richard at the pearly gates perhaps?

    Lovely comment. And maybe they decided to go slow this time,lol
    I admired her always and she will always be one of the most greater and beautiful stars of all times.