Animal Deaths Foreshadow in Film

         One of the most widely used motifs in film today is the death foreshadowing. This was an extremely obvious projection in the 1954 Mexican adaptation of Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel Wuthering Heights, Los Abismos de Pasion. In this film, director Luis Buñuel constantly reminds viewers that this is a tragedy, not a love story.

         The movie begins with a shot ringing out in the air and a view of a large tree with birds resting on it. As they scatter at the gunshot, viewers follow the shot to a woman, Catalina (Irasema Dilian) walking inside with a gun. She has just shot down one of the birds.

         Next, the cameras pan to Eduardo (Ernesto Alonzo), who is killing a butterfly that he has caught. We see the butterfly pinned down and held helplessly, waiting to be hung on the wall. This is obviously shadowing the capture of his sister, Isabel (Lilia Prado) and her sick love for Alejandro (Jorge Mistral). It also seems to mimic his own relationship with his wife, Catalina, who he continues to try to pin down and keep to himself when Alejandro returns. Moreover this incident foreshadows the death in childbirth of Catalina, whom Eduardo has trapped by making her pregnant.

         There is also a rather graphic scene of a pig being slaughtered. This moment really upsets Isabel, who runs into the arms of Alejandro. Thus, viewers get another glimpse to the imminent death of her happiness as she sacrifices herself in a miserable marriage to Alejandro, who is soon to die himself.

         Eventually Ricardo, played by Luis Aceves Castaneda, is planning on how to kill Alejandro because of his plans to take over the house and land that was once Ricardo’s. Ricardo catches a moth and glances up to see a spider web on the ceiling. He then throws the moth into the direction of the spider web, and the spider crawls out and kills instantly. This is near the end of the movie, and the scene in which Alejandro, hovering over Catalina’s grave, is shot dead by Ricardo).

         I really enjoyed the use of this motif in the film. I thought it gave the film a deeper sense than the previous version of Wuthering Heights, directed by William Wyler in 1939, which we watched, and I thought the motif added to the director’s approach toward the tragedy.

Jessica Heacock

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