A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.
The controversial decision to miss out almost the entire second half of the book allowed the filmmakers to concentrate on the Heathcliff/Cathy love story, and Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon both have incredible chemistry and strengh in their performances. No, they are not Bronte's characters, especially the film's version of Heathcliff, who here is FAR too nice, but are definitely one of the greatest of Hollywood's cinematic couples. This is especially notable in the scenes set on the moors, where we are definitely in that Olde Hollywood romantic never never land where the music soars and passion had to be, and was, encapsulated in a kiss. Olivier is impressive delivering some of Bronte's lines, of which there are a surprising amount, and the film does follow the book's plot very closely, it just tones down the darkness.
There are many superbly done sequences- the incredibly atmospheric opening where a traveller arrives at Heathcliff's house, all the scenes on the moors, Cathy's speech to Nelly "I AM Heathcliff", and of course, more than any other scene, the death of Cathy. As Heathcliff takes the dying Cathy to the window to see the moors once more and she finally dies virtually standing up, all the while while Alfred Newman's love theme plays and plays. This is one of the moving and also one of the most beautiful and artistic deaths in Hollywood history, all the more powerful for actually being comparatively understated by Hollywood standards of the time. Only those who had read the book or knew of the missing second half would know there was more in the story to come, in the context of the film the tale seems complete. Some don't like the final scene of Heathcliff and Cathy's ghosts wondering in the snow, but it is actually closer to the book's actual ending than most seem to admit. It's also one of the best tearjerkers ever, period.
Most people read the book and are than disappointed when they see this. It's therefore best to see this first, and to appreciate it as one of the great Hollywood love stories, before THAN reading the book. Yes, the book is still better, but than most books are.
- Aug 18, 2004