“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”
~ Cathy Earnshaw, Wuthering Heights
I’ve read Wuthering Heights many times, and this passage still raises the hair on the back of my neck. There is nothing soft or sweet about the love affair between Cathy and Heathcliff; the hint of malevolence in their selfish obsession with each other is gripping. Heathcliff is an abominable creature, yet Emily Bronte manages to make her readers pity him--no small feat, considering his numerous sins and diabolical nature. Cathy is heard-hearted, impossibly self-absorbed and capable of saying or doing anything to get what she wants, utterly devoid of self-awareness and almost conscienceless. These are powerful roles that any actor would dream of portraying. It comes as no surprise that the 1939 version was far too tame to convey the passion and depravity of this couple. The beautiful Merle Oberon and the even more beautiful Laurence Olivier won the coveted roles, and while they are wonderful to look at and they both have some good moments, the classic version ultimately falls short.
The original is worth watching simply because it is a wonderful example of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, but if you are looking for a version that attempts to be more accurate to its source, I don’t think you can do better than the 1992 version. This book has been filmed many times, but it is the best attempt I’ve seen so far. Granted, it is a difficult book to bring to the screen as it begins when our main protagonists are children, so there is the problem of either having adults play roles too young for them or finding suitable children to play these reckless, wild creatures. Fiennes and Binoche are a bit old for their parts, but the passion and earthiness they bring to the table makes this relatively unimportant.
POSTED BY: L.R. Blizzard