The Different Flavors of Wuthering Heights

         Although it is a long book, Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights was definitely my favorite film-literature combination in this class. From the book to the play and then to the movies, William Wyler's 1939 adaptation and Luis Buñuel's 1954 version, titled Los Abismos de Pasión, are basically all the same story line, but each has its own individual flavor. I like the way each one differs from the other. I can see the different ways that the directors and writers perceive these characters.

         It surprised me how much I enjoyed this book, with my being more of a movie lover and all. Throughout this class, I really learned to appreciate the literature and in many cases prefer the books to the movies. I am a very imaginative person, and the literature benefits me in that I can create my own images of the characters and the setting. I am glad I read Brontë's Wuthering Heights before encountering the 1939 movie. It was helpful because I already knew the characters' backgrounds. I do not know if I would have enjoyed the book as much if I had watched the film first. The characters have so much background that I could not even possibly understand it all in a short movie. I do believe William Wyler did a great job of directing the film. I am impressed with the way he takes such an in-depth book and turns it into such a great movie.

         I also enjoyed watching Buñuel's Spanish adaptation of the film. It was great to see how two different cultures can bring the book into their own culture. I like the fact that in the Spanish version, the film makers are able to add many of their own customs, such as the pig slaughtering. I think it is great how the Spanish director uses symbolism in the filming of Wuthering Heights. I think this book can fit into many cultures, granted these characters are a little farfetched; but one does see many people these days that are jealous, strong-willed, naïve, revengeful, or very passive. Emily Brontëë wrote about these traits while developing her characters, traits which show real feelings many readers can relate to.

         If there is something I could have changed in the film versions of the book, it would have to be characters in the novel the film makers left out, such as Mrs. Linton, Edgar and Isabella's mother. Although many people have tried to make a sequel to the film adaptations and failed, I wish film makers could have added parts missing from the book that were left out of the movie versions. I think they could end a new adaptation with Heathcliff's departure. They could begin a sequel with his return to Catherine and possibly have enough time to bring in the children (Catherine, Hareton, and Linton) and offer better character development.

         In the book and both of the film adaptations, I felt as though Catherine (Merle Oberon in Wyler's movie) may have been too strong for her own good. With this strength, she is able to drag Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) along and also keep a tight grip on Edgar (David Niven). I had to laugh when Catalina (Irasema Dilián) goes out to shoot the buzzards at the beginning of the Spanish version. I think that leads one to believe that she is a tough woman early in the book. I feel Eduardo (Ernesto Alonso) is a weak man. I do not think he could have been that blind to the situation. I do not think Catherine and Edgar should have been married in either version because they are too different. I feel as though he is scared of his wife rather than her equal. I think Brontë may have developed Catherine's character too early because with her strength and frame of mind, she acts more as a modern woman. I had wished Isabella/Isabel (Geraldine Fitzgerald/Lilia Prado) had taken more after her sister-in-law, Catherine, because I hate to see a nice, young girl like her get abused mentally as Heathcliff (Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral in the Spanish version) did to her.

         I think the ultimate reason why I enjoy this book is that it is very entertaining. It reminds me of one of the oh-so-popular reality TV series, since it seems as though these two families are thrown together and are never able to interact with anyone living outside the grange. The only outsider mentioned repeatedly is Lockwood, and he is there only to help tell the story. Because of his role in the book, not interfering with anyone's life, he resembles a host on one of these shows that stands back and tells the story.

         It is definitely more than just a month-long reality show; it is a saga spanning generations. The characters just keep on being selfish, trying to make sure they get what they want in the end. However, it is funny because the bad people seem to never get what they want for long, or at all, before getting eliminated just as on the reality shows. I am glad I had a chance to follow these characters' lives; it made for a fun day of guessing how this story will end.

Courtney Wenande

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