How Can It Be So Different?

        When a film is based on a book, the film may differ from the book in some ways in order to attract viewers. However, these differences or changes should not lose the plot or idea of the original story, found in the book that it is based on. After viewing Wyler's film version of Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights, released in 1939, I wondered why the scriptwriters, Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur, and the director would do this. Did they all fear that a truly accurate cinematic treatment of the classic novel would result in a box office failure?

        Maybe it was not William Wyler's fault, but instead that of the scriptwriters that the contents on the book and film were so different that the film lost the actual point of the book. It is sad that such a classic lost its essence when it was transformed into a film. The main idea or point behind Brontë's novel, Wuthering Heights, was not to express the love between the two characters, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, as it was seen by its viewers in the 1939 film version. This novel was to show how a powerful British family declined. The family decline was due to the hatred and snobbery that was found in the relationship among Catherine Earnshaw, Hindley Earnshaw, and Heathcliff. This relationship not only brought down these individuals, but corrupted their children from all of the malice. From this scenario, the point behind the film was just a love story, which in my opinion is very inappropriate. The film also does not mention anything about the children at all, much less what happened to them, all of which was depicted in the last half of the book.

        After saying all of this, I still do not understand why this film was advertised as one that was supposed to have been based on the novel. It is clear that half the book was erased as if it has no meaning in its content. Why would the film makers say that the film is based on the novel if the two plots contrast so much? Did the scriptwriters for the film lack that much confidence in the original story line that they feared filming all of it would have prevented the film from being a success? No one can really say, your opinion is as good as mine, and this is a very debatable point. However, what can be definitely set in concrete is that the film version of Brontë's novel, Wuthering Heights, is nothing like the book in many aspects.

Nicole Zelesnikar

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