Los Abismos de Wuthering Heights

         Los Abismos de Pasion (The Abysses of Passion), the 1954 film directed by Luis Buñuel, gave a whole new spin to William Wyler's 1939 American film version of Wuthering Heights. Although Los Abismos de Pasion is entirely in Spanish with English subtitles, if you are at all familiar with Emily Brontë's classic 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights or even if you have seen Wyler's version, the Spanish version is quite easy to follow.

         Director Buñuel gives us a Spanish take on the novel because we all know Latin lovers are better. In this case it is not his lovemaking but, rather his film making that set Buñuel apart. William Wyler was a brilliant film maker who was unsurpassed by other film makers in Hollywood and had a style all his own. However, Buñuel brilliantly captured the passion of Alejandro (portrayed by Jorge Mistral) and Catalina's (Irasema Dilian) love much more vividly than in Wuthering Heights the movie.

         To keep from totally discrediting Wyler as a film maker, I believe that the screening limitations put on directors of this era in the United States played an integral role in the content of Wyler's film. While this factor is evident in both films, one can see where international films are not subject to as much censorship. The boundaries that are not to be crossed here in the United States are not viewed as boundaries at all in other countries. While I am a child of the nineties where anything goes, I can see the difference in films today and films from the 30's and 50's. One example that jumps to mind is that, in Los Abismos de Pasion, the characters do their share of necking as opposed to today's films, where the characters would probably just jump into bed with one another.

         The element of the movie that captured me the most was Alejandro's anger and passion for Catalina. Alejandro would even go so far as to marry Catalina's sister-in-law Isabel (Lilia Prado), with whom he did the most "necking" and whom he cared nothing for. Also, Buñuel's version had its share of domestic violence. Wyler's characters did their share of "necking" but he restricted the abuse to mental and emotional as opposed to physical.

         The actors in both movies did an excellent job playing their roles, especially Luis Aceves Castenada as Ricardo, the Spanish equivalent of Hindley. Ricardo portrayed a very convincing drunk; as a matter of fact; he was so convincing, I could almost smell him! On the same note, Eduardo portrayed by Ernesto Alonso, came across as an arrogant pansy-like twit. Amazingly he was a pansy in the book and in Wyler's version, as depicted by David Niven. (Niven plays an excellent wimp as well!)

         Overall, both movies were great. It is simply the factor that Los Abismos de Pasion captured the passion more vividly than Wuthering Heights the film. There is not a better word to describe love than a deep abyss which one might or might not want to fall into. If you do decide to fall into that abyss, read Wuthering Heights and watch both movie versions so you can take careful considerations of how to and how not to deal with love.

Katie Clark

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