My friend, autor Kristin Billerbeck, mentioned the new Wuthering Heights movie on her blog today. Since I’ve been immersed in all things WH for the last two years, I was aware that the movie was being made, but until recently could find very little information about it.
There still not a whole lot out there, but I did find this great >review from The Guardian. (Profanity warning!)
This particular sentence from the review caught my eye: As youngsters, Heathcliff and Cathy (played first by Shannon Beer and then by Kaya Scoledario) exist in a kind of primitive Eden where they are neither quite siblings or lovers but some innocent hybrid of the two.
I’ve heard this take on the novel before, and it actually fits better than trying to view the story through the traditional framework of a romance. In fact, I think we’ve done ourselves a disservice in continuing to remake Wuthering Heights as a love story. It’s more of a need story. And “need” can be an ugly word.
Maybe it’s because of where I’m at in life, raising kids, watching as their emotional needs grow deeper day by day—but I find I read Wuthering Heights differently now. Basically, I see a story of two people who had the one thing, or person, they needed taken away.
Heathcliff and Catherine were everything to each other. It's hard to overstate this fact. They believed they had one soul between the two of them. Juvenile? Yes, sure, of course. But when I look into my son’s eyes and see an utter need for an anchor in an unknown world, it doesn’t matter to me if his emotional framework is immature. The need is all the greater for it. It breaks my heart to think of my little boy without a tether—without any link at all to the love a human being cannot survive without.
Emily Brontë, genius freak that she was, dared to write a book about a boy just like that.
I could not write that book. It would break my heart.
The novel I just completed, The Immortal Heathcliff, takes that ruined man and sends him on a journey for redemption, and ultimately, a love that will anchor his soul. My job was far easier than Emily’s, partly because I could never claim to have her insight into suffering and human nature, nor her tortured genius. But also because writing hope is easier on the writer’s heart than crafting ultimate despair.
This may sound absurd, but Brontë's greatest feat as an author may have been to leave her characters in the ashes of their choices. There is no happy ending. The woman was as unrelenting as a Pilates instructor!
So, anyway, what do you think about the upcoming movie? Please someone out there tell me you’ve read the book! Much is being made of the choice to have a black actor portray Heathcliff. Scholars agree it is unlikely that the character of Heathcliff was meant to be black. For a break down of the textual support of this claim click this link and scroll down to the heading “Was Heathcliff Black?” But putting that detail aside, I think it’s a great move from an emotional and artistic standpoint. I’m more excited about the apparent choice to take a young adult approach since the main action of the story happens when the characters are teens.
You might as well go ahead and comment with whatever comes to mind about the movie, WH, or crazy/lovely Emily Brontë. You should know I will keep talking at you about the subject regardless. By the way, the UK release date is September 30. I didn't find a date for the US.
The Writer Who Speaks
3 days ago