Wuthering Heights as a Mexican Soap Opera?

         Los Abismos de Pasión is Luis Buñuel's 1954 film adaptation of Emily Brontë 's 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights. Brontë's original story of Catherine Earnshaw's love triangle is the modern fodder of many current soap operas. Her wild, soul mate love for Heathcliff and the love for the good life that she has found with Edgar find her in near constant turmoil. Los Abismos de Pasión is brimming with a carnal brutality and zest that leave the 1939 William Wyler version sterile by comparison.

         For those unfamiliar with the book, the events are likely to be confusing. The film skips over the growth of young Catalina, played by Irasema Dilian, Alejandro, portrayed by Jorge Mistral, and Ricardo, depicted by Luis Aceves Castañeda (Catherine, Heathcliff and Hindley, respectively). In the beginning, the audience finds her already married to Eduardo (Edgar, acted by Ernesto Alonso), a slight man who enjoys killing beautiful butterflies and pinning them to boards: a metaphor for our Catalina's wild spirit perhaps? Alejandro then returns from a period of time away from the hacienda.

         This is the point at which the book and the film start to get fun. Catalina coos over Alejandro in front of her husband. She says that her heart was cold and that must have been when he was in a cold country. How painfully embarrassing is this for Eduardo? This man knew that his wife had been in love with Alejandro before they were married but figured she would forget about him in time. Alejandro and Catalina begin to romp around the Mexican countryside in a manner wholly unbecoming of a married woman, much to the dismay of her husband. Eduardo's passions flair; he makes Catalina promise not to see Alejandro. Alejandro becomes a pawn.

         Catalina will not leave her husband, but her undying love for Alejandro continues. She dies, not in her husband's embrace, but in the arms of Alejandro. Alejandro curses her soul to never rest as long as he is alive. He visits the grave of his beloved. He dies after being shot by Ricardo, his body falling onto the open casket of Catalina. The two soul mates continue on after death.

         Death, life, deception, and undying love make for an amazing soap opera. The themes in conjunction with the characters created by Brontë create a spell-binding adaptation in the eyes of Luis Buñuel.

Miranda Turner

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