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Removing the framing device and epilogue of Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë's stark and unnervingly cruel ode to emotional turbulence and unhealthy passions), grittily realist director Andrea Arnold has taken the title and themes to heart, ripping away all the lace and niceties associated with previous cinematic renditions, leaving us with an unsettling portrait of a renowned text.EDIT (thanks to the anonymours reader who left a comment with this link): indieWire's ReelPolitik selects the film in his personal TIFF top five:
While not particularly compelling to watch, being a dry experiment in stripping away our collective idealizing of the past, it does disturb and inspire consideration, providing a thoughtful look at what living conditions must have been like in the late 1700s. [...]
Instead of focusing on the flowery aspects of the love story, Arnold takes care to explore her environment, lighting everything with candles and sunlight only, capturing just how cold, wet and muddy the washed-out, grey landscape was. She also makes the characters somewhat animalistic and sinister, as the novel implies, featuring bloodsucking and wound licking on the part of Catherine and some exceedingly discomforting and vivid animal abuse and slaughter by Heathcliff.
And since there's no score, opulent costumes or powerful slow motion looks of desire, we're left mostly with excess scenes of people trudging through the mud and treating each other like crap, especially later on when Heathcliff decides to marry the sister of Catherine's husband, Isabella (Nichola Burley), just to spite her. (Robert Bell)
Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” confirms the British director’s talent for tactile filmmaking: I can’t think of another film I’ve seen in recent memory where I could actually feel so much of the film: from the muddy grass to a sheep-wool’s blanket to the brown hair on the back of Catherine’s neck. A tale of obsession on par with “Shame,” “Wuthering Heights” may have felt a little long to me, but it’s such a strong movie, nonetheless, thanks to the incredible performances of the child actors and Arnold’s palpable frames. (Anthony Kaufman)HitFix Motion Capture didn't like the film but appreciates the craft at work.
With films I haven't liked this week like "A Dangerous Method" or "Wuthering Heights," I can still have a conversation about how the filmmaker's craft is evident in what they do, and ultimately, my reactions boil down to how I feel about choices they made. I may not like those choices, but I can see the reasoning behind them. (Drew McWeeny)The Irish Times includes the film on its list of autumn releases and deems it 'interesting' while the Toro Magazine describes it as 'darker and broodier'.
Best of all Wasikowska plays with a much more passable northern accent than Anne Hathaway’s recent and diabolical attempts.The Times, however, has another letter to the editor on the subject of the (mis?)dating of the film:
Her measured guttural lilt compliment Fukanga’s attention to the Brontëan love of the wild and untamed moors and dales as a backdrop to disastrous tales of woe.
Pathetic fallacy is gloriously abused with widescreen panning shots of bruise-coloured bracken being bashed by high winds, misty grey mornings reflecting the turmoil of relationships doomed by class and expectation, and bare tree branches clawing at gloomy skies.
The film teeters on becoming glamorised, partly because the tempestuous descriptions of the text lends itself to exaggeration, but Fukunaga does well to keep it from becoming just another tea-time period drama.
The characters are earthy and fiercely acted by both stars – it’s not a startling rework but it’s a classy and polished effort. (Lauren Potts)
Sir,In spite of this, The Hollywood Gossip considers Jane Eyre one of the best films of 2011 so far.
The new Jane Eyre film (letter, Sept 15) has a scene where Jane is shown holding a letter with a postage stamp on it. These only came into use in 1840 with Rowland-Hill’s penny post reforms of that year.
Rodney Bennett Richmond, Surrey
What’s different about writing an adaptation?The Minnesota Daily features the unforgettably unique marquees of the Uptown Theatre:
I read [Jane Eyre] in my teens and thought it was a wonderful book. I must’ve read that novel I don’t know how many times now and I love it every time. The first read stayed with me for days and days: this young woman’s experience. I wanted to make the film have that same feeling. That’s what your looking for – a distilled emotional effect of the source material.
What was the biggest challenge of adapting Jane Eyre?
Much of what goes on in Jane goes on inside of her. She’s so self-controlled – it’s the challenge of any adaptor of that book to get under her skin and to hint at all this passion inside. Women were so trained not to show how they were feeling. Passion was seen as a dangerous thing and a very unfeminine quality. That’s what you’re dealing with: extremely repressed people! (Cathy)
[Chief of Staff Joe] Larsen, who has worked at the Uptown for seven years, penned such marquee quips as “Jane Eyre: Based on a book, I think” . . . (Marty Marosi)A picture can be seen here.
Drawing on Chekhov's Three Sisters, Morrison blends the cross-currents of 19th-century social and technological change with the spinsters' yearning to endure beyond the narrow confines of respectability – and mind-numbing boredom – laid down for them as daughters of a country clergyman.The Yorkshire Post gives the production 5 stars as well:
It is an existence that is hard and gloomy. "My first memory is gravestones. What's yours, Emily?" asks Anne, cheerfully. The women have lost their mother and two sisters by the time the play starts. We know that none are long for this world. Brother Branwell – a weak, addicted, squandered talent upon whom their irascible father, Patrick, dotes – will be dead by the age of 31.
Yet though the haunting wind and the death rattle is never far away, the Brontës refuse to be cowed – either by their physical situation or the attempts of pompous, self-regarding men to patronise them.
Finding solace in their own thoughts and the austere beauty of the surrounding moors, the sisters cast their eye over the world with searing intensity – hopeful and honest, scathing and funny, beautiful and beguiling. [...]
While attention is, naturally, focused on the powerful performances of the three sisters – Catherine Kinsella as the sensible Charlotte, Sophia Di Martino as the complicated Emily and Rebecca Hutchinson as the youngest, Anne, the entire cast is faultless.
There are moments of great humour – not least from the family doctor, played by John Branwell, and Eileen O'Brien as the faithful old family retainer Tabby. Gareth Cassidy is formidable as the disintegrating Branwell. (Jonathan Brown)
Plundering the family letters, their published works and material written about them, Morrison has pulled off a warm, mesmerising depiction of what made the Brontës tick, and one which has the ring of truth about it.The Yorkshire Post also reports the ongoing controversy in Thornton - birthplace of the Brontës - about putting a phone mast on the church spire.
Emily is pale, strange, self-doubting, mistrustful of the world and given to bursts of poetic recitation. Charlotte is practical and bustling, but also burning with ideas and unrequited passions. Anne is a glowing ingenue who is almost embarrassingly open to love. She also has a witty command of the withering one-liner, with her views of the shortcomings of curates and has great sport at the expense of Jane Austen.
The sisters are shown to have an intense bond, a great work ethic and a fierce desire to leave a mark on the world through the stories they weave by flickering candlelight unbeknownst to their father and drink and drug-addled brother Branwell. The sisters’ ideas about life, love, the lot of the working man and woman and biggies such as ‘why are we here?’ are discussed and tested, with the help of visits to their home by a doctor, a lovesick curate, a teacher and Branwell’s revolting married paramour Mrs Robinson.
Their view of that liaison appears to be ‘if this is real- life love, we’d prefer fiction’.
Morrison the poet has imbued his script with moments of real beauty, and he’s done the Bronte sisters a great service in shining new light on the hearts and minds that created lasting beacons of English literature.
Northern Broadsides are at their best here, creating a production that both transfixes the mind and melts the heart, with a wonderful, committed ensemble deserving equal plaudits all round. (Sheena Hastings)
Several locals claim the development would adversely affect the Brontë birthplace house, a site of local and regional interest.The East Hampton Star reviews Carmela Ciuraru's Nom de Plume.
Cher and guest star Shelley Winters do shrill impersonations of memorable boo-hoo scenes from “Wuthering Heights,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Bambi.” (Phil Hall)The Film Stock, These Words Are Bullets and Cinema (in Swedish) review Jane Eyre 2011 while A Day in the Life discusses Jane Eyre 1983. Finally Tom Gauld publishes one of his Saturday Review Letters (The Guardian) cartoons which features the Brontës in a sort of minimalist videogame.