Glossing It Over versus Doing It Justice

         Had I not known prior to watching that both William Wyler's 1939 movie, Wuthering Heights, and Luis Buñuel's 1954 film, Los Abismos de Pasion were based on Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights, I am not sure that I would have ever figured out that they were based on the same novel. Even ignoring the obvious differences like the fact that the titles differ, one can see that the movies are filmed in different languages (English and Spanish), and the fact that Heathcliff and Catherine become Alejandro and Catalina in Buñuel's version, the two movies seemed so entirely different to me. I almost wonder if these directors and the other film makers had even been reading the same novel. Now, obviously there were certain elements of the story that were picked up in both movies, namely the underlying love between Heathcliff and Catherine (or Alejandro and Catalina). However, I thought that the tone definitely differed between the two.

         Brontë depicts Heathcliff as a deeply tormented soul. When I watched Los Abismos, I felt that the dark, brooding Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral, fit very closely with Brontë's description. On the other hand, I felt that William Wyler's Heathcliff, played by Laurence Olivier, could best be described as "moody." I found it interesting that in one place, I saw where the tagline of this movie was "I am torn by desire... tortured by hate!" Overall, I just did not feel that the character we saw on screen truly looked all that "tortured." In fact, I think that on the whole, Wyler's version seemed to "gloss over" the story, adding more of a sappy romantic element to it--something I did not feel fit very well with the mood of Brontë's novel.

         The most glaring place where this is seen is in the end of the film when we see the ghost-acted ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine, frolicking away hand in hand, happy as you please. Contrast this with the ending scene of Los Abismos, which takes place in the tomb with Alejandro standing in torment over Catalina's (Iraseme Dilian) body, and you can see why I suggest that the moods of the two movies are so different.

         While I respect the fact that people can have different "takes" on a story, I thought that, despite changing the names of the characters, Los Abismos "felt" more like Brontë's novel. If one were to actually examine the elements of the plot to see which comes closer to portraying the events that unfold in Brontë's novel, I am honestly not sure which movie would come out as a better match. However, as far as capturing the overall vibe of Brontë's novel, I think that Buñuel's Los Abismos did a much better job.

Kayla Shewcraft

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