Monday, February 1, 2010

Wuthering Heights (1992)

Year: 1992
Rated: PG
Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Tagline - A passion. An obsession. A love that destroyed everyone it touched.

First Viewing - Sophomore year of high school (2004) on Starz.

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - I won't beat around the bush. This is my favorite adaptation of Wuthering Heights. I'm sure this is no secret if you've seen my List of Official Canonized Favorite Movies.

This version is by no means perfect, and there are many things I would change. However, I feel, out of all the versions I've seen, this one captures the novel and its proper mood the best.

It begins differently with Emily Bronte walking through the moors to an abandon house which she claims inspires this story. From the beginning, we do not take as fact, but as a work of fiction. I also very much enjoy Sinead O'Connor as Emily Bronte.

Emily narrates the arrival of Lockwood and then continues on with the story, inter cutting every now and then with voice overs, that, as I can recall, are all direct quotes from the novel. This version probably utilizes the dialogue from the novel, the best out of all the film version...with the exception of the '78 version.

Like I said, it's not entirely perfect, and the focus is on Heathcliff and Cathy fairly all the way through. Still, a care is taken with every scene and set piece. The story is given the time and care it deserves and can only receive through a studio production.

Heathcliff - (Ralph Fiennes, age 30) It's Ralph Fiennes! He's a damn fine Heathcliff but I don't think I have to go into that...because it's Ralph Fiennes! He is passionate, dangerous, and you believe him in all of his actions and plotting. He is one evil son of a bitch and you are on the edge of your seat waiting to see what he will do next...or for those of us who know, it's rather how he will do it next.

Cathy Earnshaw - (Juliette Binoche, age 28) I have found that the Cathy needs to match the Heathcliff in mood. Juliette Binoche's Cathy is equally dramatic and passionate as her Heathcliff and manages to do just fine along side Ralph Fiennes.

Edgar Linton - (Simon Shepherd, age 36) He's okay. There is some focus on him, but he is treated as a villain, a foil to keep Cathy and Heathcliff apart rather than someone that Cathy indeed falls for. Like all Edgars, he shines as a father.

Isabella Linton - (Sophie Ward, age 28) This is probably the most inactive Isabella ever. It's not entirely her fault. I think she could be more of a presence if the director had chosen to feature her face more. There's so little of her. And they make her out to be an idiot because she marries Heathcliff even after he plainly tells her "I'm a villain. I'm only after your fortune."

Hindley Earnshaw - (Jeremy Northam, age 31) As far as I know, Jeremy Northam is kind of an important British actor...I think. It seems they would give him a much larger part. His character arc is so very, very small. Smaller than Isabella's. He doesn't even go to college!

Frances Earnshaw - (Janine Wood, age 29) All right...if Hindley doesn't go away to college, then where does Frances come from? Probably the same place and Cain's wife, right? She has one scene of canoodling, one scene of pregnancy, and then she's dead. But what an exit! That is a truly horrific childbirth scene.

Nelly Dean - (Janet McTeer, age 31) Janet McTeer is my second favorite Nelly. Yes, she is too old (for the first generation) and not nearly active enough, but she has opinions and a personality so often absent in other Nelly's. She's tough and only a character of her strength could deal with the nutcases at the Heights and the Grange.

Hareton Earnshaw - (Jason Riddington, age 24) Even for Hareton, he's a little too quiet. He pops out of relatively nowhere. The actor does the best with he can with the material he's given. I think the actor likes the role, which helps. But there's just not enough of it!

Catherine Linton - (Juliette Binoche, age 28) Not since 1967's version have we seen the same actress portray both Catherines. I don't think there's that much of a difference in the performances though. Cathy is more giggly and temperamental, certainly, but Catherine is just a young girl caught in bad circumstances...with a blonde wig. I feel that Juliette Binoche didn't want Catherine to overshadow her performance as Cathy, so she didn't try as hard.

Linton Heathcliff - (Jonathan Firth, age 25) He's pretty good. He shows some of his snobbery and is a little more rude to Hareton than usual Lintons are who just cower in the corner with a blanket.

Joseph -(John Garrie)....pfft.

Lockwood - (Paul Geoffrey) Average confused Lockwood.

Costumes/Character Appearances - As a studio produced feature, this movie definitely has a budget and therefore the most elaborate and accurate costumes from the proper eras.

Once again, everyone is too old. Even the second generation. Linton is probably the best to physically embody his character, as he looks very small and weak. Cathy and Catherine are played by the same actress, but not meant to resemble one another. The Lintons are all too dark. Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff is near physically perfect, particularly as a gentleman on.

Sets/Filming Locations -With a budget, we have one of the most impressive Wuthering Heights's. It is very gothic and inaccurate, but still fucking awesome. This is what most people picture when they think of the house, but in all actuality, it should resemble the house in all previous versions.

Music - I believe the music is one the greatest factors in making this one my favorite. The music is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly suited. You can find an example of the score on Youtube, and I assure you that it is spine tingling.

Overall Likes -Dual generations; The music; The house; Emily Bronte framing; Overall atmosphere; Nelly; The scene with Frances and Hindley canoodling; Heathcliff and Cathy on the rocks; Grotesque childbirth scenes; "I am Heathcliff"; "I cannot live without my life. I cannot live without my soul."; Cathy delirious; "Someone's love falls far short in her case, obviously."; Cathy's death scene; Heathcliff embraces Cathy's body; Catherine, Hareton, and Linton together in front of the house; Catherine offers to teach Hareton to read; Heathcliff watching Catherine and Hareton flirt; "It's a poor conclusion, is it not?"

Overall Dislikes - Actors too old; Edgar, Isabella, and Hindley too underplayed; Not long enough; 2nd generation romance should be longer;

Final Thoughts - Wuthering Heights (1992) is one of my favorite movies. Someday, I will do a longer review for my Official Canonized List of Favorite Movies, which will review it as a film and not simply an adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Therefore, I don't want to go into too much detail, so I'll leave you with the fact that this one is my favorite...and probably also the best (if best means entertaining and accurate) version of Wuthering Heights there is. If I suggest any one to watch, this is it.

1 comment:

Luna said...

I'm reading Wuthering Heights for the first time right now. LOVE this version of WH, and it's because of it that I decided to read the novel. I'm visualizing the actors playing their parts as I read the chapters. I have seen the '39 Olivier and the '70 Dalton versions. I like them too, but this one with Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff is my favorite of the three.