Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Wuthering Heights (2011)

This is probably my favourite adaptation so far.

Andrea Arnold's version was classed as at best revisionist and alternate and at worst - by Daily Fail types - PC, in that it cast a black Heathcliff (played by Solomon Glave and James Howsen) However it is perhaps the most faithful to the ambience of the book, creating through excellent cinematography via natural light, a harsh wilderness that is almost tangible to the viewer. Indeed, I genuinely felt a chill to my bones as if damp from the sodden Moors throughout! I find very little to complain about this adaptation, and much to commend. The filming on the Moors itself lends a complete authenticity and Arnold manages to lose the stuffy approach some adaptations/costume dramas have, proving that this story has something to say for the here and now. Perhaps my only quibble is the wimping out from having Cathy haunting Heathcliff. But then, given that Arnold was clearly aiming for realism, one can forgive her for excising the Gothic and supernatural.

Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer as the young Heathcliff and Cathy

James Howsen as Heathcliff

Kaya Scodelario as Cathy

The film has no score either which only further adds to the bleakness. The only soundtrack here is the howling winds, the torrential downpour and the bleatings of animals, both human and wildlife, in torment.

Arnold has an unusual eye, her camera as silent observer, is akin to Ken Loach in places, which is well suited to the naturalistic performances from her cast, whereas when she allows the camera to linger in stark close up at the hide of a horse or the bleeding out of a chicken, rabbit or sheep, it owes something to Nic Roeg.

The cast are rather good and it's nice to see that much emphasis is placed on Cathy and Heathcliff's childhood, and it is to this that special praise must go out to Shannon Beer as the young Cathy. It's such a brilliant performance that perfectly captures the wild spirit of cheek, mischief and burgeoning sexuality.

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