Gaudy Heights

     Many classic novels have been made into films; unfortunately, these movies rarely depict the true emotions that one is able to perceive through reading. I have learned to appreciate books more than movies, but I really appreciate a film that is derived from a classical novel, when it is done correctly, without added fluff. There are many obvious differences between the 1847 novel and the 1939 film Wuthering Heights because the film was done in a rather gaudy and flashy manner.

     The film, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, depicted Catherine, played by Merle Oberon, as being mellow, thoughtful and never extremely devious or selfish. She seemed rather sensitive and caring. I felt that because she was not the real Catherine, selfish, sly, shrewd, and heartless, that the essence of the story was taken away; and one did not feel as emotionally influenced by it.

     Heathcliff was also toned down in the film. He was rather caring and sensitive, totally unlike the Heathcliff that I had expected, which was rude, heartless, audacious, and insolent. He was more loving towards Catherine and appeared to be much more infatuated with her, outwardly, than what the book led us to conclude.

     I felt that the producer, Samuel Goldwyn, and director, William Wyler, did a disservice to Emily Brontė by making this film. They were too concerned with making it romantically and visually appealing than making a classical novel come alive with authenticity to give the audience a feeling of awesomeness.

     I was greatly isappointed with the acting of Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier. They did not have the chemistry that it takes to make a believable love story. I think that, because they really disliked each other off screen, on screen one could feel the tension between them. To be able to make a movie that is just as good as the book, takes a lot of effort, requires a script that matches the book, and most of all needs compatible actors.

     I feel that the written work of Emily Brontė was poorly adapted and was made an absolute disgrace by the film production of Wuthering Heights. I think that the movie industry should be ashamed that a film as tacky as this was produced. Maybe more serious thought about the selection of the cast; the choice of the relationships of the characters portrayed in the film; and a more precise adaptation of the written work by Emily Brontė concerning the personalities of these characters would have produced a more highly accepted film version.

Julie Hoffman

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