I have just seen the new version of Wuthering Heights at the London Film Festival. It is billed as Andrea Arnold's radical and beautifully filmed adaptation of this classic tale of obsessive love and is here:
As is quite clear from the promotional image above, the difference between this and other versions of Wuthering Heights, is that they have made Heathcliff in this version Black.
Wuthering Heights and me. I love the novel Jane Eyre with a passion - and I loved the latest film adaptation. See here:
Wuthering Heights is a totally different story. I read the novel when I was a lot younger and found it very complex and totally impenetrable! I have never really "got" it or understood why so many people are so passionate about the novel and feel so strongly about it. This film changed all that.
Having a Black Heathcliff obviously heightened Heathcliff's alieness and his otherness, raising it to a new level. Hindley's cruel and brutal treatment towards him reminded me of the treatment meted out to Shylock and Caliban (also both aliens and others). Given what was going on in the slave trade at the time, Heathcliff's treatment really spoke to me powerfully and resonated with me in a way it had not done previously.
Two actors play Heathcliff and two actors play Cathy - one set of actors play them as young adults and the other set of actors as grown-up adults. For the majority of the film, Heathcliff and Cathy are young adults, which I think is true to the book, and both young actors were outstanding. What I would say about both sets of actors is that they really conveyed the passion between Heathcliff and Cathy, their deep and undying love for eachother, and the searing pain, grief and torment their love for eachother brought them.
There were many other things that I loved about this version. The isolation and remoteness of living out on the moors was powerfully conveyed. The landscape was definitely a character in its own right, in particular I loved the endless torrents of torrential rain. The cinematorgraphy was beautiful and truly breathtaking; I loved the close-ups on points of detail. And I loved the juxtaposition between the past and the present at key moments, conveying exactly how the human mind, and specifically memory, works.
In a nutshell, this film blew me away. For the first time I "got" Wuthering Heights and understood what the fuss was all about. It is a masterclass in how you can take a well-worn classic that has had countless adaptations, add in a new and unusual twist, and yet still remain true to the heart, spirit and the soul of the novel and the source material (Sherlock anyone?!). Highly highly highly recommended, even in preference to the Tom Hardy version!
London Film Festival. Browse the full programme and book tickets here: