Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chartist Wuthering Heights

The Edinburgh Journal reviews Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights giving it 4 stars out of 5:

Arnold’s film succeeds in conveying the darkness of the book. The English moors have never looked more beautiful and isolated; battered by ceaseless wind and torrents of rain.
The characters seem as eroded by the harshness of the weather as the land they inhabit. The majority of the actors involved do a great job of playing Brontë’s characters, but if James Howson is a frightening, grief-stricken, devilish Heathcliff, Kaya Scodelario’s Catherine is a flatter character; more whimsical woman than Brontë’s tortured protagonist.
Nonetheless, this is a remarkable film, driven by some bold directorial choices which have made what could have been just another cinematographic version of a well-known story into a visual feast. The attention to detail through close ups, the slow pulling of the focus in several blurred shoots, an extreme use of light, and the total lack of a soundtrack, land the film an eerie vibe.
This is a bewildering piece of cinema: shocking and unflinching but subtle. It is a film that hints but does not show, and leaves the audience puzzled on more than one occasion. The viewer is simultaneously enraptured by its raw style but induced to reflect on the conspicuous use of music and fancy visual effects in mainstream cinema. By contrast, Wuthering Heights, mostly filmed with a hand-held camera, is as bare and haunting as the landscape in which it is set, and all the more memorable for it. (Claudia Marinaro)
The Socialist Worker reviews it too:
Arnold clearly understands the essence of the novel, and the way the brutality of the landscape shapes the characters’ lives.
There are some incredible performances. Both the younger and older Cathys, played by Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario, are brilliant. The actors portraying Heathcliff—Solomon Glave and James Howson—present a figure whose inability to speak his mind makes for uncomfortable viewing. [...]
Wuthering Heights brings new ideas and encourages a re-engagement with Brontë’s text. It is also a beautiful piece of filmmaking.
The energy of the first hour perhaps isn’t sustained in the second half. But you could say that this reflects the change in Cathy’s life with Edgar.
Brontë wrote her novel at a time of great change in British society—after the Chartists’ general strike of 1842 and around the time that Frederick Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England.
There is a flavour of this in the film. The characters are people we can identify with rather than the period mannequins of many costume dramas. As such, Wuthering Heights has more in common with the social realism of Ken Loach. (Alan Kenny)
The film is also reviewed by The Reflected Life, jkinsleyfilm and Rev Stan's Film Blog.

A columnist at the National Catholic Register looks back on her teen reads:
Wuthering Heights. When Emily Brontë‘s novel came out, there an outcry over its fevered and degenerate excesses. And at age 16, I fully internalized the idea that the highest form of love is self-immolating, world-excluding, virtue-obsolescing devotion to an eternally predestined companion soul. Now, in the novel, this relationship is clearly not healthy; but oh how exquisitely it is portrayed, and I couldn’t get enough of it. But it’s a great story and a great illustration of the collective unconscious of the 19th century. (Simcha Fisher)
In the meantime the Salem Classic Literature Examiner columnist lists several winter reads:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – This is a great read for when the weather turns nasty, as it will keep readers engaged with its perfect blend of romance, suspense, and chills. The heroine of the story is determined and courageous, and the story itself is a great read, sure to make readers cry, cheer, and shiver (not because of the cold). (Erin Kahn)
Madam Novice looks at the Jane Eyre 2011 costumes. Peewiglet's Plog hasn't liked the film at all.

Comments :

1 Comment
oakland blinds said...
on  

I had loved Wuthering Heights! I'm a softie when it comes to great historical romances. Jane Eyre would be my next read.

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