A Different Wuthering Heights

        This was my first time to read Emily Brontë’s 1847 Wuthering Heights. I enjoyed the book and therefore expected certain things from the film. William Wyler’s 1939 film did not deliver what I was expecting, which was a dreary story of Heathcliff’s revenge. Instead, it showcased the stories main points and made me fall in love with the character of Heathcliff, who was played by Laurence Olivier.

        Granted, the acting was over dramatized in some parts; I still found it to be enjoyable and truly showcase the love between Cathy (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff. The most dramatic part had to be the closing scene with Cathy and Heathcliff, walking hand in hand into the clouds. Sure it was cheesy, but it did convey the point that they could finally be happy with each other forever. Another dramatized point made was the embraces that Cathy and Heathcliff shared. Instead of a normal hug or kiss, the two characters locked around each other and buried their faces into one another’s necks. This was partly due to the time the film was made because scenes could not be too racy. I think these kinds of embraces also accentuated their forbidden love. The last dramatization was Cathy’s death scene. As she passed away in Heathcliff’s arms it was not subtle; instead, she collapsed like a sack of potatoes. However, all these dramatizations did stress the points they were intended to, whether it was passion, dying, or being eternally happy.

        As I watched the film I found myself liking Heathcliff more and more. The book portrayed him as more of the bad guy by focusing on his rage and revenge. One part that really stuck out in my mind is how he almost beat Hindley to death. The way Heathcliff mentally and physically abused his sickly son made me despise him. Luckily, the movie only showed the first half of the book and allowed me to see Heathcliff in a different light. I began sympathizing with him when he was a child (Rex Downing), while he was being abused and mistreated time after time by Hindley (Douglas Scott/Hugh Williams). The movie portrayed his softer side, the side that truly cared for Cathy. He cared for her so much that he even went away to better himself; however, when he got back it was still not enough for Cathy. In the end, the movie allowed me to have a better understanding of Heathcliff’s actions and motives for revenge.

        Even though William Wyler’s movie is filled with dramatic acting, it gets the points across clearly. Since the movie only showed the first half of Wuthering Heights, it allowed us to see two different sides of Heathcliff, one being revenge and the other love. The main difference is the movie allowed us to feel his injustices and sympathize with his actions.

Kelly Kneer