Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Movie Critique: Wuthering Heights

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."--Aristotle

Wuthering Heights is a 1939 black and white film based on the novel by Emily Bronte. This motion picture was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won the 1939 New York Film Critics Award for Best Film.

The story opens with Catherine and Hindley, two young children playing in the moors. One day, their father Mr. Earnshaw brings home a lost boy to adopt whom they name Heathcliff. Over the years his relationship with Cathy becomes apparent but unfortunately upon the death of Mr. Earnshaw Hindley takes over the estate and brutalizes Heathcliff, making him a stableboy.

Cathy befriends the neighbors, the Lintons, and becomes close with Edgar who asks him to marry her. Heathcliff overhears a conversation Cathy is having with the maid Nelly that she cannot marry Heathcliff, but only hearing the first half he becomes enraged and leaves the estate. Cathy is so disheartened Heathcliff has left that she becomes temporarily ill. She eventually accepts Edgar's proposal.

A few years later and happily married Cathy and Edgar have a surprise visit. Heathcliff has returned and somehow became mysteriously rich and purchased their old estate due to debts Hindley has accumulated. He treats Hindley the way that he used to be treated, with disrespect and contempt now that he owns the estate. He also marries Edgar's sister Isabella to get back at Cathy for marrying Edgar. Cathy is so adamant about trying to stop the marriage that she accidentally reveals her true feelings to Edgar. The remainder of the film is powerful, since Heathcliff and Cathy finally express their love for one another. However, there are a few twists thrown into the end to "tug at your heartstrings" and this film is a must-see for romantics and readers of the classic novel.

You do not need to have read the novel to enjoy this movie since the overall movie in itself was excellent. The actors portrayed the characters well and it was powerful, romantic, and tragic at the same time. Yet, readers of the original novel might be a tad disappointed. The main reason being, the entire second generation (almost half of the novel!) is completely left out of the movie which includes Heathcliff's son Linton, Catherine's daugther also named Cathy and Hindely's son Hareton. The movie solitarily focuses on the perpetual love between Cathy and Heathcliff disengaging itself from the storyline of the novel especially the ending. The movie's ending in fact is completely different from that of the novel. I am assuming it was due to time constraints since if they followed the original storyline of the novel, the scenes would be much more complicated and the movie quite longer than it already is. But most likely, they wanted to focus on the undying love between the two characters, and the plethora of emotions brought upon by their circumstances.

The characters Cathy and Heathcliff are intriguing. Cathy, is beautiful yet selfish and wants a life of wealth which is why she marries Edgar. Heathcliff a handsome and charming individual almost turns into the villain in the movie. He was once poor then somehow acquired wealth. Jealosy overcomes him and he marries Isabella to spite Cathy and treats Hindley the same as he was treated as a child. He abuses Isabella, and we can see that she is only being used in this epic love battle. Yet still, I find myself rooting for Heathcliff to be with Cathy. In a sense, I feel as if he was acting out because he loved Cathy yet he could not have her and that Cathy was foolish for marrying Edgar when she did not love him like she loved Heathcliff. Love, yet torture and heartbreak at the same time...a classic romance movie.