Monday, January 26, 2009
Wuthering Heights on PBS: My Thoughts
The last two Sunday's I've been glued to the tube as I watched the latest version of Wuthering Heights. This edition stars Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Catherine Earnshaw. When I began two weeks ago, the story started somewhere near the end of the novel. Heathcliff forces Catherine Linton (Cathy & Edgar's child) to marry his son by Edgar's sister Isabella, Linton. Are you following me? Yes, it sounds an episode of Jerry Springer but the story is over 150 years old. Anyway, at first I was confused, and where was Lockwood, the narrator? This film took a totally different route, tossing out Lockwood and demoting Nelly to a minor character.
The story then turns into a flashback. Heathcliff is brought home by Mr Earnshaw. The film takes on the rumours started ages ago by critics head on: was Heathcliff Mr Earnshaw's illegitimate son? (Okay, now that's Jerry Springer!) They seem to look it in the face and dismiss it. Mr Earnshaw grumbles that a man can't do a good deed without him being gosssiped about.
Cathy to my mind just wasn't nasty enough, neither was Heathcliff. He's a real puppy-kicker in the novel, where his cruelty seems to be toned down for the film. Even Cathy Junior was a more of snotty brat in the book. She was terrible to Hareton when she first arrives at Wuthering Heights. You can't blame her, really. What I love about the book is just how awful all the characters are, yet they love passionately. There is plenty of passion in the film, however. I loved the stolen kisses and cavorting in the moors. What else would two wild people with little in the way of morals be doing when alone?
I wasn't quite happy with Heathcliff's end. I prefer his wasting away after spending all his energy on revenge. That was the engine that kept him going, once that was gone his body gave up.
Don't get me wrong. This film is totally worth watching. Tom Hardy was perfect to play the smouldering anti-hero. He looks the part. The chemistry between Tom and Charlotte burned up every scene they had together. Burn Gorman, who I'll always think of as Mr Guppy, made a believable drunken Hindley and Andrew Lincoln played handsome yet useless Edgar well. One of the characters I thought improved greatly over the novel was Isabella (Rosalind Halstead). She had the fire and passion to try and take on Heathcliff, where in the novel she seems more like a Heathcliff groupie.
You can watch Wuthering Heights online on PBS Masterpiece website.