Wuthering Lows

         Have you ever tasted something so awful that it makes you gag in your attempt to swallow it? This is the feeling that I got when I watched William Wyler's 1939 cinematic version of Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights. I already had a bitter taste in my mouth from reading the novel and was hopeful that my watching the film would eliminate it. It did not, however, and actually made the bitter taste even more foul

         The film was long, boring, and drawn-out. I honestly felt that I could have slept through an hour of it and awakened to find that I had missed absolutely nothing. The cast members of the film were so overly dramatic that it was actually quite amusing at times (perhaps the only amusing thing about the movie.)

         Secondly, the music in the "background" of the film, scored by Alfred Newman, so was so overbearing that it matched the actors' overly dramatic acting techniques, thus creating way too much drama. The music was too loud and repetitive to actually get the desired results from using the music. The music did not accompany the film; it was annoying. For example, whenever a dramatic scene was taking place in the film, it was actually difficult to hear the spoken lines. Newman was overusing the concept of the leitmotif, recurring musical themes to go with certain characters, like Cathy, and other specific items, much as Richard Wagner did in his four-opera Ring of the Niebenlungs and Sergei Prokofiev did in Peter and the Wolf.

         I tend to usually like older films; for example, I am an avid Alfred Hitchcock fan; but, in this instance, that was not the case. I did not particularly like the book or the movie; but, if I had to make a choice I would choose the book over the film. I did seem to get into the book a bit better than the film; but, considering I thought that the film was horrendous, I found that it did not take a lot for me to decide on which I liked better or disliked less. (At least in the book, the annoying music was not there!) All in all, I would say that the film was nowhere in comparison with the book.

Stacey McGuins

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