Wyler's Dynamic Depiction of Brontė's Novel

         In William Wyler's 1939 depiction of Emily Brontë's novel, Wuthering Heights, a few elements fell short, whereas other elements rose above. Gregg Toland's cinematography fit the novel almost perfectly. Also, the main actors, Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff), Merle Oberon (Catherine Earnshaw), David Niven (Edgar Linton), and Geraldine Fitzgerald (Isabella Linton), did a good job portraying the novel's most important characters and their personalities.

         Gregg Toland's cinematography expressed Brontë's description in the novel very well. Brontë described the Yorkshire Moors to be very bleak, cold, and haunting. A good example of the scenery and setting matching the novel's description is the Earnshaw's house after Mr. Earnshaw died, and when Heathcliff returned. The home looked very cold and lonely after Mr. Earnshaw's death. After Heathcliff returning the house remained cold and lonely, but unkempt too. Watching the film, I felt that all these elements were captured in the setting and scenery.

         The actors were able to capture the novel's characters personalities and emotions in most instances. Laurence Olivier portrayed Heathcliff almost perfectly. Olivier was able to capture Heathcliff's personality traits such as being bitter, angry, and dark. Olivier's voice expressed Heathcliff's wild and devilish side.

         Merle Oberon depicted Catherine very closely to the way her character was portrayed in the novel. Oberon's acting skills showed she could play both of Catherine's personalities well. One personality of Catherine's was somewhat of a wild, daring, and free person, who disregarded the rules. Catherine's second personality showed her wanting to fit in to society's higher class, following the rules, and wanting to be with the man that was more accepted by society. Also, Oberon and Olivier had excellent chemistry and interaction in the film. One of the few things that fell short, though, was the violent and sexual sides of Heathcliff and Catherine, that were somewhat diminished.

         Also, David Niven (Edgar Linton) and Geraldine Fitzgerald (Isabella Linton) played their roles well. They were effective at portraying two people that were unluckily in love with two other people who were in love with each other, Catherine and Heathcliff. Many of the main interacting scenes on screen of the characters, I believed, mimicked the novel closely.

         In conclusion, William Wyler's 1939 depiction of Emily Brontë's novel, Wuthering Heights, displayed excellent cinematography, while the actors did their respective characters justice.

Ashley Davis

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