Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AFI Top 100, #73: "Wuthering Heights" (1939)

Movie Stats:
Released 1939 (USA)
American, in English
Director - William Wyler
Stars - Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Plot Summary:
It’s the tragic love story of Cathy (Oberon) and Heathcliff (Olivier), set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire moors. Niven co-stars as Edgar Linton, who also lives on the moors, and Fitzgerald as Linton’s sister, Isabella.

Minor violence; extensive use of the word “gypsy” as a slur.

Bad Stuff:
The soundtrack is the worst.

This story has always been a bit too melodramatic for my tastes.

I don’t really like Olivier’s acting in this. He chews a lot of scenery.

Good Stuff:
The costumes are amazing!

I enjoyed the performances of everyone except for Olivier, especially Niven and Fitzgerald.

The dialogue is really beautiful.

The Verdict:
As I said above, I’ve never been particularly fond of this story. I never read the book, and saw my first movie adaptation of it only a few years ago. Having come to it as an adult, I find it very immature. In today’s terms, it basically goes like this, “OMG, I love you the mostest! Our love is the greatest love of ALL TIME! But you don’t really respect me so you sort of rejected me and now I’m going to RUIN YOUR LIFE!” I spend most of the story thinking, “Good grief, grow up already. And leave poor, sweet Edgar and Isabella alone!”

Anyway, despite my lack of patience for the story, I thought that this was a really lovely adaptation of it. It drew me in. I winced my way through the melodramatic ending, but other than that, I quite enjoyed it. It’s way better than the other adaptation I saw (which had the benefit of starring Tom Hardy). 

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

Hah! I hate this story too. I had embarked on a project in the late 90s in which I would alternate reading a book of my choice with a classic novel I had not yet read. This book sank that project. I'm glad you were able to overcome the melodrama and appreciate the performances. I'm not sure I could.

balyien said...

I'm so glad I never read it. I really do get why it's appealing to 15-year-olds, so I guess high school is probably the best time to read it, but I think it's better I suffered through The Red Badge of Courage instead.