Heathcliff versus Alejandro

         The selection of Jorge Mistral to play the part of Alejandro in Luis Buñuel's 1954 film, Los Abismos de Pasion, was a much better choice than Laurence Olivier to fill the role of Heathcliff in William Wyler's 1939 film, Wuthering Heights. Both films, based on Emily Brontë's 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights, gave different personal and physical characteristics to the character playing the role of Heathcliff. The characteristics and qualities Jorge Mistral gave to the character of Alejandro were more like what Brontë had bestowed upon Heathcliff in her novel. The performance given by Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff in the English film did not do the character justice.

         The Heathcliff Emily Brontë brought to life in her novel was a bitter, hateful, revenge-seeking character who, as an adult, was seeking revenge on everyone who had wronged or betrayed him during his childhood. Laurence Olivier had the physical characteristics that were needed in order to play the part of Heathcliff; however, he did not bring the same sinister attitude to his character's personality as had been expected from the descriptions given in Wuthering Heights, the novel. There were times throughout the film when Olivier's Heathcliff took on the sinister attitude and personality toward the other characters. While he was hateful and yelled at the other characters, throughout the majority of the film, Olivier's character did not show the extreme hateful and bitter attitude that one might expect from his character.

         The performance given by Jorge Mistral in the Spanish-language film contained both the personal and physical characteristics one might expect from his character after reading Brontë's novel. Although Mistral gave a somewhat overdramatic performance during the film, his performance included the extremely hateful attitude that an actor needs in order to portray the true character of Heathcliff. Mistral's facial features, along with his sinister attitude, helped the audience to get a sense of the character that Brontë created in her novel.

         Therefore, when choosing an actor for the part, Jorge Mistral gets my vote for his accurate portrayal of Alejandro, the Heathcliff character. While Laurence Olivier could have been a contender, his inaccurate performance kept him out of the running.

Stacey Lee

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