Los Abismos de Pasión Does Justice to Brontë’s Passionate Novel

         It may be that I am partial to Spanish movies or just have experienced several of them, but I was excited to find out we would be watching a Spanish version of Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights. I was very intrigued to see how it would work, if the film would be any good at all. Not only was I impressed by Luis Buñuel's 1954 Los Abismos de Pasión --the script, the acting, the setting, etc., but I enjoyed it much more thoroughly than Wuthering Heights directed in 1939 by William Wyler.

         The title itself, Los Abismos de Pasión, The Abysses of Passion, is very appropriate and hints at the circumstances and feelings in the film. Although we only see a segment of the book by Emily Brontë in this film, the director and actors did an excellent job of capturing her work. I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what made this movie better than the English version, but in my opinion, it was. The tone of the movie was much more mysterious and sinister, mainly because of the rugged and harsh setting of the country. Although the actors (Irasema Dilian, who played Catalina, and Jorge Mistral, who depicted Alejandro) were more dramatic than in the other version, I felt that they portrayed the true characters of the book. I was able to really grasp what these characters might have been like in the imagination of Emily Brontë. I know that the actors from the original Wuthering Heights (Merle Oberon, who played Cathy and Laurence Olivier, who depicted Heathcliff) were not at all what I would have expected primarily because they lacked depth and passion.

         The ending of this movie differed from both the book and the original Wuthering Heights, but I thought it appropriate. At the end as Alejandro was going to visit the corpse of Catalina, he is shot by Eduardo from a distance (which shows his cowardly nature) and Alejandro falls dead onto the corpse of Catalina. They are shown walking away together as ghosts hand in hand. Although there was not enough time allotted to have the ending of Emily Brontë, this was still much more effective than the "happily ever after" scenario of the first film, when doubles of the actors playing Catherine and Heathcliff strolled towards the clouds, which William Wyler refused to shoot. I know that the idea was that Heathcliff and Catherine would finally be happy together, but the way Alejandro died was much more gruesome and fit the tone of the movie.

         I give Luis Buñuel and the actors who so vividly portrayed Emily Brontë's characters of Wuthering Heights two thumbs up for a job well done and a movie well made.

Brittany Binkley

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