Heights of Difference

     Upon joining the Film and Literature a week after I watched the first adaptation of Emily Brontė's 1847 Wuthering Heights on film, directed by William Wyler in 1939, I was treated to yet another version, Los Abismos de Pasion, directed in 1954 by Luis Buńuel. Only the catch this time was that the language spoken throughout the film would be Spanish. I decided to sit back and somewhat watch the movie, though I detest subtitles. I was treated to more than I thought.

     The movie itself was dark and brooding at times. The passion displayed by the characters was at times overwhelming. I became enthralled at how this version was stacking up to and surpassing the classic movie that I had watched not a week before. The dramatics displayed by Alejandro (Heathcliff) and Catalina (Catherine) were what I had pictured in my mind upon reading the book. The film makers had also decided to change (as opposed to the Wyler version) the way some things were translated from book to movie screen. They added the addition of the third generation of children. This added a new level to the way I viewed the story.

     Now let me tell you about the acting. The classic version had the honorable Laurence Olivier cast as Heathcliff. Olivier is an excellent actor, but I did not see him as the enraged-pining Heathcliff. Now in Los Abismos de Pasion (the Spanish version), the actor who portrayed Heathcliff, Jorge Mistral, to me, did an excellent job of portraying his cruel, yet brooding side.

     The scenery of Los Abismos actually looked, in my mind, as to what the scenes of Wuthering Heights the book were supposed to look like. I liked the scene where Heathcliff introduces his new wife, Isabel, depicted by Lillian Prado, to her room (the trashed filthy room). To me that was a very vivid scene that not only set the mood of the marriage, but also the "unfeelingness" of Heathcliff.

     All in all, Los Abismos de Pasion is an excellent adaptation of Wuthering Heights. It surpasses the former film by far. I think that, no matter how good this movie is, there can be no true adaptation of Wuthering Heights, without its being six hours long; but Los Abismos is close to what I believe was Brontė's original plan.

Richard Shepherd

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