Iraseme Dilian versus Merle Oberon

     Wuthering Heights is a very in-depth novel, written by Emily Brontė in 1847, with characters that have many different levels. The book, one might say, cannot be read for face value. One must think about the characters and their depth. Catherine in the book is a very strong woman. She is the character who has many sides. At one point she is very nice to the man she says she loves, Heathcliff; but in another scene she is extremely harsh to Heathcliff. Heathcliff, however, is Catherine's equal in character. Both of them are strong-willed, and they know that they are alike. They are callous and harsh to others and each other. Both of them say they love each on the spiritual level, not the earthly level. Cathy thinks it is not important to have Heathcliff in the flesh, just his heart. It is instead necessary for to have money and status in society with Edgar Linton as a husband rather than be with whom she calls, a part of her.

      To act out the characters, the actors would have to dive deep within to bring out the different elements of each character of the book. This is especially true of Catherine, who is hard to understand in the book. Both actresses in the respective movies based on the novel tried very hard to capture Catherine on the screen. Only one did, though; and it was Iraseme Dilian in the 1954 Spanish version by Luis Buńuel, called Los Abismos de Pasion, not Merle Oberon in the 1939 William Wyler version of Wuthering Heights.

      In 1939 William Wyler's film came to the silver screen the same year as Gone With the Wind. The film Wuthering Heights, directed by William Wyler, seems more like a fluff romance than one with complex characters, such as Catherine. Brontė's Catherine is so deeply in love with Heathcliff because he is so much like her. Brontė's Cathy and Heathcliff are more of the same character but with just different sexes. However, Merle Oberon in the movie just shows the side of Catherine, whose love seemed more fluffy than deep. This is too bad; for, on the other hand, Laurence Olivier showed the viewer Heathcliff's evil side, so evident in the book, because he played his role with a better idea of who Heathcliff was. Therefore, Olivier received a nomination for Best Actor that year.

      In Los Abismos de Pasion, Isaseme Dilian, the actress who plays Catalina, is much more effective in portraying the character who kept her lover on a continual roller coaster as did Brontė's Catherine. She plays up the evil side of Catherine much more than Merle Oberon did in William Wyler's version. At the beginning one sees Catalina shooting at the buzzards, even scaring her sister-in-law, Isabel (Lilia Prado) and not caring. This attitude continues through the movie. She also has a pet bird in the beginning, and her husband, Edgardo (Ernesto Alanzo), asks her to let it go. She responds: "I keep it caged because I love it." This is a symbol to Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral; it is as if she is keeping him caged because she loves him. When Alejandro comes back at the beginning of this movie, she has no reservations in front of her husband about insisting how she has missed her former lover, as Merle Oberon's Cathy did. This is part of Catalina's malice. This actress becomes Cathy much more than Merle Oberon did.

      Thanks to the script and the acting of Iraseme Dilian, her Catalina is much more developed in Los Abismos de Pasion, than is Merle Oberon's Cathy is in the American movie, Wuthering Heights.

Allison Nall

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