I finally got around to seeing the 2011 version of Wuthering Heights.
Yes, I know I’m behind. Anyone following the Twitter feed can see that all I watch are old movies.
This movie was darker than any other version I had seen, but it kind of made sense. While I am not sure if I liked the film, I can say I was struck by it. It immediately made me want to go back and read the book.
I first read Wuthering Heights in high school. I’m not sure why, but I distinctly remember thinking I was going in for a gothic romantic supernatural love story.
While I guess it was a story about two people in love with each other, it was also a story about two people who were also incredibly mean to each other. They hurt each other time and again and it didn’t matter if they could justify their actions.
They were selfish and destructive and yet could not tear themselves away from each other. Even when they tried, it made it worse for those around them and themselves.
While I’m guessing I have a soft spot for this type of story since a mutually assured destructive love story was also the basis for “Jeux D’enfant (Love Me If You Dare), one of the first things I’d seen with Marianne Cotillard.
Differences, yes. But sometimes, despite love, people can bring out the worse in each other. Both explore the darker side of being together and how trying to move on with a “normal” relationship does not work for them. It is too boring, too common, too tame, too civilized.
My favorite part of the novel is the second half, the half generally ignored in movies. I always felt this part brought everything back around full circle. There was hope and redemption in the second half, while the first part ends so hopelessly.
In this version, I did think that the children actors, Shannon Beers and Solomon Glave were very good.
I felt that the intensity was lost slightly when they were adults. I can not tell if this makes the abuse more horrifying or less since the attitude is so cavalier, but it does not feel as though they are compelled by their obsession.
As children, Healthcliff is horrifically abused; emotionally, mentally and physically, no matter how he tries to be accepted. He spends much of his time with Cathy, who defines the relationship between them. When he grows older and she leaves, he doesn’t know what to do without her. Of course, as is often the case, he becomes abusive as he is now able to assert some power where he has been previously powerless. Oh, there a lot of themes in this novel but (courtly) love is not one of them.
So while I have read reviews where people outright hated the 2011 version, I personally felt that it captured the destructive nature of the novel. Also, how could people not feel bad towards Heathcliff? It almost seems obvious that he is so mean as an adult after all he had to deal with when younger. (though there is one scene that creeped me out a bit)
I’m also glad that the age is where it should be. Doesn’t it make more sense that their love is so intense if they are younger in age? It’s a driving theme behind Romeo and Juliet. Has society changed the connotations of this novel by using older actors?
Also, as a matter of comparison, when Cathy (in the 2011 movie) is licking his wounds and sucking on her scratches, I was reminded of “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield.
I will not give out spoilers, but just know there is a tale of two lovers that seems very similar to the 2011 movie version of Wuthering Heights.
Let’s see how much is kept in for the BBC movie adaptation that will be out in Christmas of 2013. It will star Vanessa Redgrave and Sansa Stark.