Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Wuthering Heights


This is one of the “classics” on everybody’s list that I somehow never got around to seeing. I always wondered what “Wuthering” meant, and now I learn it’s a Yorkshire term for turbulent weather. Yorkshire sure looks turbulent here. Most of the time it’s raining or snowing, and the wind is howling. (Yes, I know it was all filmed in Hollywood.) This was Emily Brontë’s only novel … or, in this case, the first half of the novel. It was severely shortened, and the book was much, much more complex. As for the movie … it is a masterpiece of craft. The look of it is wonderful. The lighting, the sets, the choice of camera angles, all great. As for the acting, Olivier at first seemed to be a bit too loud, projecting too much (he credits the director, William Wyler, with teaching him how to act for the camera), but later his intensity almost burns through the screen. Merle Oberon is much less interesting.

But I really could not enjoy the movie, as I intensely disliked both Heathcliff and Cathy. Heathcliff was surely badly treated, but he relishes his revenge so much I couldn’t stand him, and his obsessive love for Cathy ruins the lives of both himself and everybody around him. Cathy is the queen of bad choices, first declaring her love for Heathcliff, then marrying Edgar, denying her love, proclaiming it … make up your mind, lady. Perhaps I’d enjoy the book more. It certainly has moved a lot of people over the years. Wiki lists no less than 15 adaptations, including two operas. I can see that, as the story is nothing if not operatic.