Capturing the Essence of Wuthering Heights

     What is more important to Emily Brontė in Wuthering Heights (1847), passion or the dreams of adolescence? If you choose passion, then Luis Buńuel would be your pick for depicting that in his 1954 film Los Abismos de Pasion. However, if you choose the dreams of adolescence, William Wyler takes the cake in his 1939 version of Wuthering Heights. Even though both films show the true love Brontė intended for Heathcliff (Alejandro) and Catherine, they take very different approaches.

     Buńuel's depiction of Wuthering Heights is captured in the rough Mexican terrain. Even though this setting captures the characters' roughness, it does not quite match the coldness Brontė describes in the book that Wyler aesthetically shows in the English bitterness and chill of winter. In Los Abismos de Pasion, Eduardo's (Ernesto Alonso) house is not given the glamour that it is given by Wyler. In Wuthering Heights you can see a huge difference in Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, but Buńuel does not show such a huge contrast between the two.

     There is, however, a huge contrast between how the two films start out. Buńuel takes the approach of gloom by having Eduardo killing the butterflies and Catalina (Irasema Dilian) shooting the birds, yet this is not quite as dark as Wyler begins. Even though, Eduardo and Catherine are in the act of doing something dark, they are laughing and appear happy. Wyler begins very dark and when the guest appears, Lockwood (Miles Mander), at Wuthering Heights you immediately feel the characters' unhappiness, bitterness, and coldness, which is the way the characters come off from Brontė. Wyler also makes a closer adaptation from the novel by having Ellen tell the story to the guest. Buńuel shows the story as it is happening when Alejandro (Heathcliff) returns with his newfound riches. And even though you see Alejandro and Catherine's love for one another through the passion Buńuel captures on screen, you miss much of the story that Wyler shows by capturing their childhood.

     The most treasured part of Brontė's novel is how Heathcliff and Cathy are soul mates from childhood. Wyler shows their young fairy tales and adventures that capture the essence of Brontė's work. You actually get to see how Hindley and Heathcliff's hatred for each other is ignited. You see a side to Heathcliff, kindness and gentleness, that is never revealed in Buńuel's adaption. Buńuel only shows the passion between Catherine and Alejandro and how it has driven them mad. The majority of their scenes in Los Abismos de Pasion is filled with anger and aggressiveness. Yet in Wyler's film, you see their true kindred love and adoration for one another.

     Buńuel's film is very true to Brontė's work. He shows darkness and anger that is present in the novel. However, you miss a huge part of the story by missing out on their childhood and the way it all began, which Wyler has depicted greatly. If passion is the key Buńuel has conquered adapting Brontė's novel. Yet, if adolescent love and dreams are the key to understanding Brontė's work, then Wyler has captured the true essence of Wuthering Heights.

Kaycee Cooper

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