Heathcliff under Construction

     The imagination is an interesting piece of the human personality. It allows us humans to create worlds and images that only the mind can create. Nowadays the imagination is a key component in the movie-making industry. Everyday a story or idea is born in the mind of some director and conceived in a storyboard. It is not uncommon for an ingenious writer or director to take a story that is already written as a novel or short story and express it in a manner only his or her mind could depict.

     One such novel is Wuthering Heights (1847), by Emily Brontė and the 1939 American film of the same name, directed by William Wyler, and the 1954 Mexican film titled Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buńuel. The films are very different depictions of the same story, both unique in their own respects. Two unique differences concern the characterizations and the settings; and these two aspects of each film give the pieces their own personal flavors or tastes, which seem to convey the idea that these two movies each have their own personalities, although they are the same story essentially. These aspects are what make the movies an extension it seems, of the directors' minds and not just a couple of rehashes.

     In Wuthering Heights and Los Abismos de Pasion, the actors may have similar lines, but the nature of each movie gives the lines individuality. In the American film the actor who played Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) portrays a cold-hearted and calculating creature who would stop at nothing to get what he wants. His whole demeanor about him is one of black-heartedness. He gives the impression that what he wants is in fact obtainable regardless of what others may believe. The Mexican Heathcliff (Alejandro), depicted by Jorge Mistral, pulls this same character off a bit differently. He does not quite possess the same cold-hearted bastard demeanor, and he puts a slightly more rugged spin on the whole character.

     Another aspect of a movie that can give individuality is its setting. While Brontė's Wuthering Heights was set in the gloomy moors of Yorkshire, England, Wyler's movie was filmed in the southern California hills, which looked more like the mores than did the desert setting in Buńuel's Los Abismos de Pasion, with its veranda style houses standard to Mexico and the surrounding areas. I kept waiting for an "old western" gunfight to break out in the Mexican film.

     So it is evident that different directors have different tastes just as different authors do. Whether each one is correct is not important, but rather both merely signify how dull society in general would be without different tastes.

Chris McCarty

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