Drama / Romance
(UK); 1992; Rated PG; 106 Minutes
Juliette Binoche: Cathy / Catherine
Ralph Fiennes: Heathcliff
Janet McTeer: Ellen Dean
Sophie Ward: Isabella Linton
Simon Shepherd: Edgar Linton
Produced by Simon Bosanquet, Mary Selway and Chris
Thompson; Directed by Peter Kosminsky; Screenwritten
by Anne Devlin; based on "Wuthering Heights" by
by DAVID KEYES
Kosminsky's "Wuthering Heights" is a drone, depressing,
and exhaustively revolting excuse for entertainment: the
kind of film that provokes the illusion that people want
to be assaulted for two hours without any relief. Why anyone
would even consider subjecting themselves to such miserable
shallowness, though, is beyond me. Its cruelty is incredibly
depressing, not to any purpose of amusement or entertainment,
but just to depress. It made my life miserable. No matter
how I felt while viewing it, life was much more pleasant
without even seeing it. Most good movies with an element
of horrendousness are at least able to provoke a sense of
relief somewhere along the line. Not so in "Wuthering Heights":
the makers take the barbarity so far that, even if you are
used to the cruelty, you still can't appreciate it. To admire
any part of the truculence is to admire the pain of childbirth.
Heights" is a 1992 remake of the popular novel, of course,
but since I never saw it and a teacher of mine showed it
to her classroom the other day, I decided to follow along.
That person, unfortunately, loved the film, and was shocked
at my proclamations of its shamelessness and cruelty. She
suggested that I 'review' the film to understand it more
clearly. She said, somewhat specifically, that movies do
not always intend to leave you feeling miserable. "Wuthering
Heights" is what you call a 'gothic romance.' Gothic it
is, romantic it is not.
there would have been some sympathy with the whole concept
if it weren't too dang mean and grievous. The story involves
Heathcliff and Cathy, two people who are obviously soul
mates but troubled by life's ordeals. Originally, Heathcliff,
a poor gypsy, was taken off the streets by Cathy's father.
He was announced to be a member of the family, probably
because this noble gentleman was so sincere to those in
need of help. After his death, the heir to the family fortune,
Hindley, cast Heathcliff out of the house and into the barn,
where he acted as a caretaker.
these developments, Heathcliff and Cathy fell in love with
each other. By the time we see them together, they have
already developed a romance for each other. A few scenes
afterwards, Heathcliff takes Cathy out into a field of rock
formations, and tells her to close her eyes. When she opens
them, "the sky will reflect her life." At first, the image
is sunny and bright, and then a big storm approaches and
darkens up the whole sky. Talk about over-extensive symbolism!
wait, it gets even more ridiculous. Cathy's wish to protect
her family honor leads her to marry a wealthy man named
Edgar, even though her heart obviously belongs to the Heathcliff.
Years after Cathy and Edgar's marriage, Heathcliff returns
to the scene, wealthy, and in high power of Cathy's and
his old home, Wuthering Heights. Oh, but your simple poor
Heathcliff has undergone a little personality change since
we last saw him. In the poor state, he was charming and
decent; here, he's become a revenge-driven, malevolent maniac
whose urges to prompt immediate downfall on those around
him shut out any feelings that we might have had for him.
By this point, I despised him with every living breath.
The only relief in the whole movie from his evil tendencies
is his own death, which, unfortunately, comes a little too
late for me to appreciate.
the sake of keeping your nerves calm, I shall reveal no
more of the story, because, up until the last frame, the
whole family is punished because of Heathcliff's jealousy
and cold-heartedness. We're supposed to enjoy this? The
material is presented like an old news story about an abusive
husband who is driven insane by his love's death, and winds
up taking everyone else along with him his downfall. In
one of the film's most unnecessary scenes, he strikes Cathy's
daughter, Catherine (played flatly by the same Juliette
Binoche), who at first refuses to marry his son, but realizes
she has no choice, since this man is, after all, determined
to make everyone's life a living hell, no matter what the
worse, all of this torture, this ludicrousy, is accompanied
by brilliant sets and wonderful costumes, not to mention
semi-effective performances by some of the film's more minor
characters. The castle Wuthering Heights is breathtaking
to the eye, as are the old-English costumes warn by the
characters. The film's art direction is its strong point,
which has large pillars enclosing the castle's large halls
and corridors from sunlight. The look is probably the only
thing that keeps it from being total trash.
of it makes any sense. Why is Heathcliff so driven from
human decency? Why couldn't his horrendous personality at
least partially let up long after he had already destroyed
the family? I have no doubt that people like this really
exist, but I'm more sure that those type of people had something
to do with making this movie. Like the unbearable "Mommie
Dearest," this film knows its look, but certainly not its
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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