Forgetting the History for Exposition

         In both film adaptations of Emily Brontë's1847 Wuthering Heights half of the events that happen in the novel are left out, leaving the audience responsible for picking up at the sometimes subtle hints scattered throughout the films to understand the relevant exposition and how it affects the mind sets of the characters contained within. Though the deletion leaves the poignancy of many events obscured from the viewer, there are cinematic reasons behind such an action and tactics to overstep the possible boundary created between story and audience.

         The first area one should investigate is the reasons for a film maker to leave out possibly important events. The most important cause is the time limitation placed upon films because of both cost and the impatience of an audience when viewing a five-hour film. The story in Wuthering Heights is quite extensive, with many intricacies and intentions behind a barrage of schemes and selfish endeavors, so it is incredibly important to decide the appropriate sections to remove from the film in order to produce a work around two hours long. In Los Abisomos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954, the book is nearly cut in half, resulting with a film that only focuses on the second half of the characters' story. This allows more time to focus on the resulting the adult relationship between Heathcliff (Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral,) and Cathy (Catalina, depicted by Irasema Dilian). This is the relationship that causes many of the schemes throughout Wuthering Heights, so it is the most important area to focus on in the film, so as to allow the audience to react to detailed and longer scenes between the two. William Wyler's 1939 Wuthering Heights includes the interactions between the children, Heathcliff (Rex Downing), Cathy (Sarita Wooten), and Hindley (Douglas Scott) and the love triangle between the adult Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier), Cathy (Merle Oberon), and Hindley (Hugh Williams). However, this film omits the children of these people, which populate the second half of Brontë's novel. This segment again would have taken too much time to include, and the inclusion would taken valuable time away form the focus on Heathcliff and Cathy. Also, by witnessing Heathcliff's hustle of Cathy's sister-in-law, Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), the audience can witness the manipulation by Heathcliff to engrave his personality and ruthlessness into their minds.

         When writing and editing films, because of the time limitations and the rippling results from the necessity to focus on a central, streamlined story, one must eliminate any repetition in action and inconsequential storylines. These were both issues in the Wuthering Heights adaptations, but by realizing the focus of the "love story", the creators were able to obtain a finished project that did not stray from the central themes, and did not leave the audience overwhelmed with irrelevant words or scenes.

Taylor Sutton

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