When comparing Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights in regards to William Wyler's 1939 movie, I found that it was not hard to decide which one I liked better. The movie, even though it was black and white, was a much better choice for me. I do not like to read in the first place, so the book was much more difficult to follow. The movie gave me a visual understanding of the situations that take place in the setting of Wuthering Heights.
While reading the book, I did not really pick up on the nonverbal language used by the characters. I could not see their faces and body language to back up their emotions. In the movie, I could really see the hurt and determination on Heathcliff's (Laurence Olivier's) face while he was trying to convince Cathy (Merle Oberon) to run away with him, while they were standing in their castle, Pennistone Crag. In the book, I did not see how much Heathcliff needed her love to complete his life. In the movie, despite her love for him, Cathy seemed refined and out of Heathcliff's league by the attractive way she was dressed. Heathcliff, being the stable boy, as was evident by his raggedy clothes, did not really have much to offer Cathy, just his love.
Especially as I watched the movie, I hated the fact that Cathy treated Heathcliff the way she did. When people know what they want and still do nothing to strive for that, it bothers me. From what I could see on the screen, Cathy could have easily gone with Heathcliff and been happy. The way she looked at him during that scene in which they were alone says a lot. I could see that she never lost her love for Heathcliff, just pushed it to the side.
I guess what I am trying to say is that the movie obviously was a better choice for me. The costumes helped the characters come to life, and the ending of the movie was much more real when I saw it on screen.