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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My Last Rolo..., 30 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Wuthering Heights [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
...as a lifelong student of the Brontes and their works, I have always dreaded yet another film adaptation of one of their novels. Whilst 'Jane Eyre' ( Charlotte Bronte ) should be a fairly easy book to adapt to the screen, and Anne's 'Tennant of Wildfell Hall' lends itself to the occasional TV presentation with little trouble, 'Wuthering Heights' was not and I would suggest cannot be anything than a tale told between the covers of a book. Many have tried, all, as far as I can judge, have failed, some more miserably than others. It is very easy to criticise any film based on a classic English novel, but to tear it to shreds having never bothered to read that novel strikes me as risible.

'Wuthering Heights' is not an 'easy' read. It can take many years and a lot of false starts to actually get 'into' it, and a lot of people give up, finding themselves lost within the convolutions of the plotlines and the multiplicity of characters with the same, or similar names, not to mention the two narrators ( Lockwood and Dean )batting back and forth, and the fact that the book opens with it's eventual ending. Confused? If you've not read it, you will be.

For years I have been banging on about Heathcliff possibly being of Afro-Carribean descent, and what this would have actually meant to an open-mouthed world when the novel was published in 1848, and what Emily Bronte may have been trying to say about Victorian racism and the impossibilities of any close relationship between two people of different cultures, so I was keen to see what the director made of this by casting black actors as the young and the older Heathcliff. She seems to have created something of a divide. The people who know and can appreciate the novel seem more able to accept her adaptation as bringing very genuine echoes of the book to the screen; whereas those who have never read it are more inclined to walk out of the cinema and demand their money back. Pity. May I refer them back to the text? Read it, and then think again. This may not be the 'definitive' 'Wuthering Heights' - I doubt if any director will ever manage that feat - but it is one more to add to the collection of 'almost but not quite's'.

What was completely lacking in this film, for me, was the poetry of the novel, those great, powerful, towering speeches that take the breath away and brighten the overcast gloom; but they would have seemed out of place amid all the rain and mud and dankness. And yes, in the novel, Hareton does hang a whole litter of puppies from a chairback, just as Heathcliff hangs Isabella's dog, Flossie, from a hook to prevent it from following her as they elope into the night. For those of a sensitive nature, Floss is saved by Nellie Dean, the housekeeper. The book is brutal, and more than full of such unacceptable-to-us-today images; but it is real and it is gritty and thought provoking in the extreme. It wasn't written with a care for the finer feelings of the 'dear reader'; Emily Bronte didn't give a tinker's cuss for her audience. I suspect that she might actually approve of certain aspects of this adaptation, though not, perhaps, the fact that the film ends half way through the book, and that the relationship of young Hareton and Cathy's daughter Catherine is not allowed to conclude the film as it does the novel, thus bringing back to source the name of her Mother, Catherine Earnshaw, who became Catherine Linton, had a daughter, Catherine, who will go on to marry Hareton Earnshaw...and thus the wheel turns.

I'd give my last Rolo to anyone who could create a film that was genuinely true on all fronts to the novel, from beginning to end, with no omissions, no adaptions and no compromises. As it is, I think my last Rolo will be safe for a very long time indeed.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2012 08:49:49 BDT
P. G. Harris says:
I freely admit I made an error in my review about the ha nging of the dogs, that has been pointed out. However, that was not my major criticism. I have two huge problems with this film.

a) Even though it is 30 years ago, I still remember the thrill of reading Wuthering Heights. Deeply moving, wonderfully exciting, it is a gothic masterpiece. This film is just dull. I'm sorry but repeating the same images over and over and over is tedious.

2) The imagery is brutal. Not brutal in what it protrays but brutal in its sledgehammer-like lack of subtlety. I mentioned the bird metaphor in my review. To give another example, how many times do I need to be battered round the head with a baseball bat bearing the words "It rains in Yorkshire"?

So, what do you think, I suggest this film is dull and unsubtle ?

Posted on 19 Apr 2012 22:35:56 BDT
kermit 333 says:
thank you so much for a thoughtful and considered review......

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2012 13:33:35 BDT
B. Scott says:
Hello. P.G. Thank you for commenting. I see where you're coming from on the brutality front, but is is a brutal, uncompromising novel. Dull? No, I don't find it dull, I find it heartbreaking. I don't think it is anywhere near a definitive attempt at filming this great novel, but i do believe it adds to the corpus of previous works and gives yet another slant on the complexities of the book.
But P.G., it DOES rain in Yorkshire, and boy! that IS dull! I'm joking...I'm joking....
;-)
All best.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2012 13:34:01 BDT
B. Scott says:
Thank you Kermit, much appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2012 20:28:14 BDT
kermit 333 says:
my pleasure. Like you I am a lifelong Bronte fan!
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