Wuthering Heights 2001

      The classic story, Wuthering Heights (1847), by Emily Brontė, was adapted to the screen in 1939 by director William Wyler. This film revolves around the lives of two people, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. The people involved in the plot of this story and the subject of the novel itself would make for an interesting twist in a 2001 version of Wuthering Heights.

     A new version of this timeless classic would differ greatly if set in a modern-day world. The characters themselves would be altered greatly by the new cast that would be assigned these roles. In my 2001 version of Wuthering Heights, I would cast Catherine Zeta-Jones as the character of Catherine Earnshaw. I believe that Catherine Zeta-Jones would portray Catherine Earnshaw as more of a callous, spiteful, gold digger. Merle Oberon, who played Catherine Earnshaw in the 1939 film, was believed to be a more sincere character. She lacked the callous nature that makes Catherine Earnshaw such a powerful figure. To keep in tone with action and exciting plots found in today's movies, Catherine Earnshaw would have to be the deceitful wife willing to do what it took to get what she wanted.

      Keanu Reeves would play the role of Heathcliff. Keanu Reeves has the all-important demeanor of the heart-broken Heathcliff. Heathcliff would be very angry and spiteful. He would be aimed at seeking revenge against Hindley Earnshaw and also the innocent husband of Catherine Earnshaw, Edgar Linton. The role of Heathcliff in the novel is a character that is at wit's end about his love, Catherine. This role would carry over to the new version of this film, only with more pizzazz and confrontation. Heathcliff would go to every extent to make sure his love for Catherine was known and that he will stop at nothing to have her. Laurence Olivier, who was Heathcliff in the 1939 film, seemed a bit too uncharacteristic for the role of Heathcliff. Heathcliff should be thought of as a well-dressed, very handsomely kept person with this dark side. I did not get that impression from Laurence Olivier in William Wyler's version.

     The innocent in this film would be Edgar Linton. Very similar to his person in the novel, he would be a devoted husband to Catherine Earnshaw. His knowledge of her involvement with Heathcliff would be something he cannot accept. Any mention of her unfaithfulness would be pushed out of his mind. He will do anything to make her happy and not lose her to Heathcliff. Since Edgar is a timid, loving person, Henry Thomas would be a good actor to portray him. Henry Thomas possesses the all-important innocence in his expressions that make this character important. In the latest version, David Niven is the actor who we see as Edgar Linton. Indeed, David Niven portrayed Edgar with good acting, but David lacked the innocence that I see as being so important for Edgar Linton's character. Isabella Linton is more of an obsessive person in the new version. She is very threatened by the relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Since the marriage between her brother, Edgar, and Catherine, she has always been spiteful to Catherine. She marries Heathcliff to get even with Catherine and will not see her plan destroyed. Reese Witherspoon would play the role of Isabella Linton quite well. Reese has the soft side that Isabella possesses but also has the spiteful side that is most important for her role. I also see Isabella being a bit of an "air-head " when it comes to certain situations in my film. Geraldine Fitzgerald (1939 film) was actually found by some to be more attractive than Catherine Earnshaw. We definitely do not see two men fighting over Isabella, even though she is more attractive than Catherine Earnshaw. Casting Reese Witherspoon for the part of Isabella would give the character the edge that she needed but would not put the main character of Catherine Earnshaw in less of a spotlight.

     Outside of the new cast for this 2001 version of Wuthering Heights, there would also be a new, exciting location for this film to play out. Unlike the seclusion of the setting in the novel, the new location would be a populated area in Chicago. Chicago would offer the modern touch with lots of interaction with people and places in the city. The plot would be altered in the sense that there would be physical altercations between the characters in this film. More action and suspense would be added, along with a different ending. This film could even be drawn out into a mini-series for television. The novel leaves us hanging in the lives of Edgar and Isabella after the deaths of Catherine and Heathcliff. Murder and cover-up would help create the attention-getting climax in the 2001 version. Everyone's fate would be accounted for and played out, without leaving any question at the end.

     Wuthering Heights was a good novel with a good plot. It would be very interesting to see the film made into a modern-day movie. The cast would add the exciting touches to the characters, along with the modern setting to complete the transformation. Wuthering Heights 2001 would make for a very interesting comparison between films made in the 1930s and the present.

Jamie Steffy

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