A Tragic Screenplay

     That is it; it is over just like that? I could not help but feel a little gypped after viewing William Wyler's film adaptation of Emily Brontė's 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights. Perhaps, my expectations were too high. Yet, after reading this passionate and twisted novel, I was excited to see it put to life and just knew that the screenplay had not given it justice. I had hoped, maybe, the actors would be the key to making this movie half of what the book was. After all, how could Laurence Olivier possibly be in a bad film after my father had boasted of his wonderful acting talents for years?

     Through no fault of his own, I believe that this was definitely not Laurence Olivier's best work, nor any of the other actors for that matter. I believe that the script as well as the casting director are to blame. From the onset of the film, I did not feel near the amount of hatred or tension as I had from the novel. By the switching of the roles of Heathcliff and Hindley in the horse-stealing scene, Heathcliff lost much of his vengeance and conviction, while Hindley gained the role of villain. It also gave Heathcliff more ammunition and animosity to support his forthcoming revenge, whereas the novel played more on the pure animal instinct of the savage, Heathcliff.

     I was also disappointed in the role of Isabella as played by Geraldine Fitzgerald. Although I thought she was one of the brightest spots in the film based on her performance, she would have filled the role of Cathy much better than that of Isabella. To me, she seemed more dramatic than Merle Oberon, especially in the scene in which she begs Heathcliff not to check on Cathy and to stay with her. The character of Cathy as depicted in the novel, was that of a strong-minded woman who knew what she needed from life and would get it at any cost. However, the movie seemed to produce a Cathy that fell weakened by her love for Heathcliff.

     Finally, I have yet to decide whether the dismissal of the second generation was an advantage to the film or a disadvantage. I do know that I was happy when the film was over but felt some curiosity as to why the writers of the screenplay left the part of the book out that gave it so much of its this-is-so-messed-up-and-twisted-that-I-have-to-keep-reading-it flare. And, I cannot help but think that if this movie was named something other than Wuthering Heights, that I might have liked it a little more.

Julie Woodrome

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