Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wuthering Heights

Edward Fairfax Rochester, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Heathcliff...the similarities between these three literary characters? All are considered Byronic heroes, meaning they have certain traits that would rub people the wrong way. Yet women find these traits irresistible. (Confession: I'm one of those women.)

Another woman that can't avoid those traits is Cathy Earnshaw (Merle Oberon) in William Wyler's take on Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights. The man in question is Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier). They're madly in love, but Cathy is reluctant at the thought of marriage. She cringes at the thought of being married to a stable boy.

That doesn't make Heathcliff fall out of love with her. He wants Cathy to love him for who he is, not hate him for what he isn't. Unfortunately for Heathcliff, that is what drives Cathy away from him.

I haven't read Bronte's novel but from what I've heard, Wyler stays mostly true to the novel. I say mostly because the film covers barely half of the novel, and a few pivotal characters are omitted. But what's left is a romance story for the ages.

I just loved the work from Olivier and Oberon, as well as Gregg Toland's Oscar-winning cinematography. It's the simplest of touches that counts. (Side note: am I the only one who thinks the score is a few notes off from sounding like the Gone with the Wind score?)

My Rating: *****


  1. I've never seen a film adaptation of the novel yet, but this seems like a good one to start with :) I'm not really a fan of the novel because I found Heathcliff and Cathy unlikable (much prefer Jane Eyre or Jane Austen's works!)

  2. Both Olivier and Oberon did good jobs with their roles, but I completely disliked Oberon's character, and Olivier's was too obsessed with revenge to be wholly likable. Overall, it was a good movie, though.

  3. Oberon and Olivier hated each other. Especially because Olivier wanted his wife for the part (Viv Leigh). The scene in where he slaps her is real. Also, Vivian instead got another part: Scarlet O'Hara in "Gone With The Wind"!


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