Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wuthering Heights (1978)

Year: 1978
Run Time: 5 hours (Yeah, that's right...5 HOURS)

First Viewing - December, 2009 from a Region 2 DVD transferred onto an iPod. (Thanks, Andrew!) 

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - I'll level with you right at the beginning. This review will be rather incomplete. I have only seen this version once. At five hours, it is a difficult piece of work to get through. That, and I bought it on a Region 2 DVD so my friend Andrew converted it on his computer and then lost it so I couldn't rewatch it before writing this blog. So, I'm sorry. five hours, how can you have any inaccuracy? Oh, they found ways. Mainly, (like always) it's character flaws. Dialogue is very accurate, in fact, most of the time it's word for freakin' word...which is rather impressive. There's even a very close attention to minute details that only true fans of the novel would young Cathy losing her shoe in a bog. Who cares? Not even me. Certainly, I would have appreciated such authenticity if the same care had been taken into the characters and acting, but alas, I am disappointed.

The whole first episode accurately portrays Heathcliff and Cathy as children when they first spy on the Lintons. In all other versions, they are teenagers by this point. In fact, it's right before the famous "I am Heathcliff" scene that the characters are shown as "teenagers". It's kind of unsettling to see Heathcliff jump from 10 to 30.

Also, it's boring. Painfully, hair rippingly, sleep inducingly boring. Even for me, who loves this story passionately, it's boring. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who feels lukewarm towards Wuthering Heights. I would have liked to see it again to see if my initial opinion changed. And since I've seen all the other versions at least 3 times each, I'm just not as familiar with it. Thus, my review will be very sparse.

Heathcliff - (Ken Hutchison, age 30) As I recall Hutchison's Heathcliff was too old and too grumpy, even when he was a lover. There was no refinement when he was supposed to be a gentleman and no depth behind his evil plans. He is also too old and really looks too old.

Cathy Earnshaw - (Kay Adshead, age 24) Even as one of the youngest actresses to play Catherine Earnshaw, Kay Adshead seems to match Hutchison's older Heathcliff. She looks older than she is and presents Cathy as a woman instead of a immature teenage girl.

Edgar Linton - (David Robb, age 31) Um...yeah, I don't remember. Which just furthers my point of the characters being unmemorable. Though I'm glad to see him as a true blonde.

Isabella Linton - (Caroline Langrishe, age 20) This is the youngest actress to ever play Isabella in any English speaking version of Wuthering Heights. I remember liking her, but I can't tell you why. Sometimes youth and inexperience can add more to a performance than years of training.

Hindley Earnshaw - (John Duttine, age 29) I remember nothing.

Frances Earnshaw - (Maggie Wilkinson, age unknown) Ditto.
Nelly Dean - (Pat Heywood, age 51) Sigh. You would think that in the most accurate version of Wuthering Heights, that they would get this right! But no, here we have one of the oldest Nellys. I know I've said this before, but I hate how Nelly is pushed into "nursemaid" for Cathy (the second generation, I don't care that much), but damn it, why in the first generation? The most ironic thing is Nelly is played by Pat Heywood who you may recognize as, I kid you not, the nurse in Zefferelli's Romeo & Juliet.

The only difference is costuming.

Hareton Earnshaw - (David Wilkinson, age 23) Um, don't remember, yet again. But it's promising that he is actually the same age as the his oldest...but it's still an improvement.
Catherine Linton - (Cathryn Harrison, age 19) I recall her being a bit too bitchy. I know Catherine is supposed to be cold to Lockwood and to Hareton, but she was just too cold, as I rememeber.

Linton Heathcliff - (Andrew Burleigh, age unknown) Um...whiny?

Joseph -(Brian Wilde) Meh.

Lockwood -(Richard Kay) Lockwood is in this one a lot, but mostly as a plot device. He's only there because the book requires him to be. I do like that they portray his interest in Catherine, though.

Costumes/Character Appearances -Again, we have clothing from the 1700's and again they are simple due to the overall production quality. But like I've said before, the simple costumes fit the inhabitants at the Heights, but the Grangers should be more fancy. Other than Heathcliff, Cathy, and Nelly, I don't mind the appearances of the actors. I'm a fan of Isabella and Catherine's youth.

Sets/Filming Locations - Like the 1967 version, this is a TV production and the sets are small and cramped. So are the shots. However, there is accuracy with the grotesque nude little boys on the front of the house.

Music -Um, obviously not memorable.

Overall Likes - Minute attention to detail; Dual generations; Isabella and Catherine's youth; "I am Heathcliff" scene very complete; Lockwood's interest in Catherine.

Overall Dislikes - The "seventy-times seven" scene; Lack of characterization; Actors too old; S-L-O-W; Nelly...grrr; Unsympathetic Catherine (as I recall).

Final Thoughts - Someday, I will rewatch this version and write a better, more complete blog. I truly apologize, but I'm a completist so I needed to post this right after the 1970 version. Overall, I think my biggest issue with this miniseries is that it spent too much time with Heathcliff and Cathy as children. I know it's accurate, but I've taught myself to not attach myself to the characters as kids since they will soon morph into adults. But there was so much time spent on them in this version that I hadn't attached myself to the new Heathcliff and Cathy by the time my favorite scene came around.

Ugh...anyway, I can't recommend this adaptation to anyone unless they really love the book. And even then, I'm warning you it kind of sucks. Since this review also kind of sucks, here's a link to a Youtube video of the "I am Heathcliff" scene, the most complete ever.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Perhaps next in your series, you could post your thoughts on the semaphore version of Wuthering Heights?