Don't Do It

     Many great movies have been made from great books, Gone With the Wind and Ben Hur, just to name a few. What makes these movies great?--great directing, great casting and a good adherence to the true essence of the book. While Wyler's 1939 Wuthering Heights may have had good directing and casting, unfortunately it did not keep to the true story of the book, Wuthering Heights. Wyler did take a great deal of poetic license with Brontė's book. Wyler strays from the story and actually cuts the book in half. While it may have won an Academy Award for cinematography, Wyler's movie should not have been made, or at least not called Wuthering Heights. Some books are too expansive and in too much detail to be contained in film. Wuthering Heights is one such book.

     To begin with, Wuthering Heights is a story of love and hate. Wyler has made Wuthering Heights into a story that stresses the love only--much more so than the hatred. Wyler made Wuthering Heights the story of the love between Catherine (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Lawrence Oliver) and perhaps the misplaced love of Edgar (David Niven) and Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald). But hatred is a substantial part of the book. Of the nine main characters within the book only five ever love, with the hatred among Heathcliff, Edgar, Hindley, and Isabella. Wyler does not build it up the way the book does; plus he never shows the second generation or the hatred among them.

     The movie also downplays the vengeance within the book. The movie fails to show the extent of Heathcliff's wrath to either Hindley or Edgar. While Heathcliff buys Hindley out from his home, Wyler does not show Heathcliff tormenting Hareton to make an idiot of Hindley's son. Nor does Wyler show Heathclff relishing the time it takes to "push" Hindley to a death by drunken stupor.

     Within the movie, Catherine and Heathcliff's specters walk off together, but in the book Heathcliff knocks a side out of his and Catherine's coffins so they could lie together eternally. This signifies the final insult to the dead Edgar, who is on the other side of Catherine. To leave out these episodes of vengeance is to leave out major personality traits of Heathcliff.

     These excerpts that Wyler left out, the hatred and the vengeance, are major parts of Brontė's book. The movie Wyler made should never have been called Wuthering Heights for it does Brontė's book no justice.

Shawn Rainey

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