Where Is the Second Generation?

         Most authors, if they were to meet the directors who adapted their works, would think that most directors had done as well as they could, but that a film version would never compare to a novel. Most authors would be confused as to why central ideas in their novels are not being put across on the big screen. The film directors would try to get across that whole novels cannot be turned into movie versions without some cuts. Emily Brontë would be one author who would question where some of her ideas have gone.

         Emily Brontë is the author of Wuthering Heights, a 1847 novel later adapted to film by William Wyler in 1939 and Luis Buñuel in 1954. Emily's main concern with these directors would be, "Where has the other half of my book gone?" In Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, two generations are depicted. The first includes Catherine, Heathcliff, Hindley, Edgar, and Isabella. The second generation is their children: Hareton, Catherine, and Linton. In both of the film versions, Wuthering Heights and Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Wyler and Buñuel respectively, only the first generation is included. Brontë would praise their efforts and the interactions among the characters of the first generation; however, I feel that she would be truly bothered by the absence of the second generation.

         I believe Brontë would also have a problem with the way Wyler shows Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship. In William Wyler's film adaptation, Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) leaves (as in the book), but when he returns, Catherine (Merle Oberon) almost gives him the cold shoulder. Their meeting in the Linton's parlor is cold and not heartwarming. In the novel, the reunion is joyous and passionate. Brontë might feel as if the relationship between them was not being put across to the audience the right way.

         Brontë might also have problems with Luis Buñuel; he changes the ending so much that Heathcliff (Alejandro, as portrayed by Jorge Mistral) is shot to death on top of the grave of Catherine (Catalina, as depicted by Irasema Dilian). She may commend the film for the way he adapts the novel and puts some of Spanish culture into it, but she might think the film too violent. Brontë's book has very little action; it is based more on words, interactions, and emotion.

         Brontë's reaction to William Wyler's, as well as Luis Buñuel's, omission of the second generation is that, with the second generation, the films would just be way too long. Emily's novel does have the feeling at the end of a good saga being finished; however, movies cannot be that way or that long. Wyler and Buñuel would say they had made good films out of a two-part book. Wyler would also have to address the problem with Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship. Wyler would most likely take the position that in real life, people simply would not act that way. Catherine would have feelings of resentment for Heathcliff because he had not understood and run off and left her instead of staying; therefore, she would not be thrilled to see him.

         Buñuel would also have to defend his choice of violent acts. I believe he would say that he needed an ending for his movie and that the ending he used fits well, kills "the bad guy," and fits with the Spanish theme.

         All of these core issues and concepts that authors and directors have would be discussed thoroughly. I do not believe that anyone would change his or her minds. The authors would think the directors wrong and vice versa.

Theresa Skinner

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