The Darker Side of Love

     Love is supposed to be a light happy subject, but as we all know love is a game with ever-changing rules. Emily Brontė's 1847 Wuthering Heights outlines exactly how powerful and painful love can be when it rears its head. There are many adaptations of this story that attempt to bring to life the stormy story of Catherine and Heathcliff; Luis Buńuel's 1954 Los Abismos de Pasion is one such adaptation that focuses on the darker aspects of the book. This story is presented as a love story that is complicated by destruction, death, and strong-willed individuals. We are not given much background information into the lives of these complex characters but rather are thrown into the turmoil that is brewing. As the plot thickens, we are shown exactly how dark a love story can be.

     From the opening scenes we are faced with death as Catherine (Catalina), played by Irasema Dilian, stands outside shooting buzzards around the house. We then move inside where we are shown another aspect of death, decay, and in a sense preservation. Edward (Eudardo), depicted by Ernesto Alonzo, is working to kill butterflies so that he can preserve their beauty to look at during his leisure. These two scenes set up the tone for the rest of the movie.

     Initially we are faced with death, which is one dark aspect. The scenes that follow are equally dark and ominous in that they deal with superstitions and black magic. Joseph (Jose) and Hindley's (Ricardo's) son Hareton, (Jorgecito) use a burning frog to rid the house of evil, which obviously is rooted in their belief in superstitions. Ricardo, himself, acted by Luis Acevas Castenada, however, is a dark and tormented soul who destroys himself through drinking and gambling only to later take out his misery on his son and others around him. These characters together create an atmosphere that is void of all positive emotions leaving only fear and hatred to cloud the air and smother the trapped inhabitants.

     In the end Catalina ends up dead; starved of the love she needed, oppressed by the love she was given. We see her coffin where she lies still and beautiful before Alejandro. It is here that we must think back to Eduardo's butterflies trapped under glass to be admired. They were suffocated slowly to preserve their beauty much as she was suffocated by those around her. In the end the result was the same.

     Los Abisms de Pasion is a movie that dwells on the darker side of relationships: those between an abusive father and son, a troubled and haunted man and the love of his life, or even those between man and nature. We all hurt the ones we love. Our emotions, our instincts, all that clouds our vision so that we cannot see the destruction we are causing until it is too late.

Melissa Stacy

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