Withering Heights

         "I'm absolutely thrown for a loop when concerning everything we've done involving Wuthering Heights." I am hit with a mass of contradicting thoughts; I almost do not know how to express them all. There were so many discrepancies among Emily Brontë's 1847 book, William Wyler's 1939 American movie, and Luis Buñuel's 1954 Spanish version of the film that I could pretty much pick and chose among the three to have my run of the best version. However, I think it is safe to say that does not exist. The plot was abnormally sick and twisted, quite unlike any story I have ever heard. In some ways I can say I enjoyed the creativity and the spotlight on miserable tormented souls, but at the same time, the depressing nature of the story is almost too much and unfathomable.

         The book was very well written. There is not doubt that Emily Brontë had an amazing talent. My only issue with it was that it was highly complex. Almost as if there were too much going on, after all, the book did span out over three generations. But as I sit back and think about it, there is not one piece within the story that could be disregarded. Everything involved with the story was imperative to the evolving and unfolding of the plot; to leave anything out would bring the story's credibility down.

         I most definitely did not like the many discrepancies between the book and the two films (both of which were fantastically different.) It seems as though both screen plays are at different extremes; first of all, despite all his protests, Willy Wyler's film ends upbeat with the twisted and horrible cinematic scene of the fairy tale ending of the two deceased, ghost-acted, star-crossed lovers walking through the clouds. On the other hand Luis Buñuel's Los Abismos de Pasion just ends morbidly, socially unacceptable and with bad acting as Alejandro (Jorge Mistral) pries open Catalina's (Irasema Dilian) casket, where it appears he intends to dismantle her body and then is shot by Ricardo (Luis Aceves Castenada). First of all, this ending was not in the book. Secondly, it makes the viewers wonder what kind of sick director was in charge of this film. All this leads me to believe it is the story line that causes the difficulty in creating a successful movie.

         My main pet peeve with Los Abismos de Pasion was the director failed to include, in my opinion, one of the most pivotal conversations throughout the whole movie: the conversation in the book and the Wyler movie between the characters Ellen and Catherine in the kitchen after Edgar's proposal. It is in this discussion that Catherine's true feelings are uncovered for Heathcliff and for the first time, one really sees her character as more of a human being than of a heartless witch.

         I felt that Wyler's film was too sugarcoated for the audience. Of course when analyzing this film, one must take into account the fact that this film was made at a difficult and depressing time for Americans. Of course they wanted to see a satisfying ending for the characters they simultaneously love and hate. However, the years have passed, and viewers now want to see the film stay true to Emily Brontë's masterpiece. The fact that so many characters were cut, and so many sub stories were left untold tainted the whole film in both versions. I understand that Wuthering Heights could not have been told in a matter of two hours. Things in this book evolve slowly over the years, but Wyler, like Buñuel completely cut out two generations, albeit different ones, which were collectively just as important as the main plot with the mess of love triangles between Catherine, Heathcliff, Edgar, and Isabella. Doing all the cutting and pasting, the directors and the other film makers were in my eyes disrespectful to all the hard work and the passion Emily Brontë had put into her creation.

         I respect the work and creativity both directory put into their own screen plays. As in every situation in life, there are always upsides. But you cannot have an upside with out the downside. The emotions I can convey on the entirety of Wuthering Heights are confusion, reverence, disgust, and bewilderment.

Becky Owler

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