Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dubbing Heathcliff

Quite a few websites such as BBC News or The Telegraph and Argus are relaying the appeal from the Brontë Parsonage Museum to help them raise funds to bring Charlotte's tiny manuscript home. Please do help if you feel you can.

In the meantime, the Grantham Journal brings news of yet one more Brontë-related auction (well, not really):

Emily Brontë was extraordinarily shy and only a handful of portraits of her exist, but an oil painting of a young woman handed over to a Northamptonshire auctioneer by a retired headmaster bears all the hallmarks of the famous literary figure.
The picture, which shows a young lady wearing a straw bonnet held in place by a silk scarf, could be of any young woman from the early 19th century, but it is thought that there is enough evidence to suggest that it is Emily Brontë.
It is almost identical to a print of a portrait of Emily Brontë published in The Woman At Home (July 1894 issue) which itself was attributed to Charlotte Brontë.
As well as that, written on the back of the picture, are the words 'Emily Brontë - Sister of Charlotte B... Currer Bell', and on the backing paper 'Emily Brontë/Sister of Charlotte Brontë/Ellis Bell' - Currer and Ellis Bell were the pen names of Charlotte and Emily Brontë from the winter of 1845/6 when the sisters published their poems and adopted pen names.
It is thought that the artist responsible for the newly found picture may be John Hunter Thompson (1808-1890) of Bradford who was a professional portrait artist and friend of Branwell Bronte, Emily's brother.
The painting is set to go on sale at JP Humbert Auctioneers in Towcester on Thursday December 15 at a provisional estimate of £10,000-£15,000.
Jonathan Humbert, managing director, said the painting will generate international interest and added that he was struck by how rare it is to have a portrait of the shy author.
"This painting has all the hallmarks of being a discovery of utmost importance to 19th century English literature with a strong raft of supporting evidence. We are very excited about bringing this to market," he said.
About the portrait we should quote Clement K. Shorter in his book Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle (1896) by saying:
There are three or four so-called portraits of Emily in existence, but they are all repudiated by Mr. Nicholls as absolutely unlike her. The supposed portrait which appeared in The Woman at Home for July 1894 is now known to have been merely an illustration from a 'Book of Beauty,' and entirely spurious.
 The Guardian's Film Blog reports that,
With £161,000 from 82 screens, including nearly £9,000 in previews, Wuthering Heights achieved the highest-ever opening gross for an Andrea Arnold film, beating Fish Tank (£103,000). However, Fish Tank delivered a stronger screen average since it earned its debut figure from significantly fewer sites: 47. The combination of Arnold's name and the beloved Emily Brontë novel was always a potent offer, although Artificial Eye's marketing campaign is defiantly arthouse in execution, and the broader audiences courted for the distributor's recent hit We Need to Talk About Kevin are clearly not in sight.
Wuthering Heights achieved a weaker screen average than the recent Jane Eyre film (debut of £1.01m from 422 sites) despite a tighter rollout which tends to deliver a stronger average figure. Cary Fukanaga's (sic) take on the Charlotte Brontë classic benefited from stronger cast elements (Michael Fassbender, Mia Wasikowska, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell) likely to appeal to the broad upscale audience for literary adaptation. (Charles Gant)
The New Statesman reviews the film:
The film isn't perfect. In truncating the novel, Arnold might have gone the whole hog and turned the film over to the children. And why hold out for two stark hours without music, only to hand the final minutes of soundtrack time to Mumford & Sons, the Radio 2 mascots who are more whimpering than wuthering? (Was James Blunt not available?) And yet these are incidental errors. Arnold is as passionately driven as ever. She knows where she's going. (Ryan Gilbey)
The Guardian continues debating about Heathcliff's skin colour:
In a week when Andrea Arnold's new film of Wuthering Heights stars James Howson, a black actor, as Heathcliff this is again an argument with two sides. How black was Emily Brontë's character?
As Steve Rose pointed out in yesterday's interesting G2 survey of racial identity in film, the author variously describes him as a "lascar" (Indian seaman) or "a dark skinned gipsy in aspect". Clearly he wasn't Laurence Olivier – and shouldn't that be "Traveller", Emily? (Michael White)
And from The Times:
How absurd when a new film of Wuthering Heights reminds us that Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff — surely the personification of the untamed Yorkshire moors — was the child of some dark-skinned sailor. (Trevor Phillips)
And speaking of James Howson, Guardian also says that,
Wuthering Heights star James Howson had his voice overdubbed in the film, it has emerged. [...]
All things considered, Wuthering Heights has been good for James Howson, the unschooled, unemployed Leeds local who stars as Heathcliff. Andrea Arnold's drama has provided him with a pay cheque, a launchpad and a prospective ticket to an acting career. It now transpires that it provided him with a voice as well.
On first seeing the film, Howson noted with dismay that his performance had been dubbed. "I felt really hurt," he said this week. "All the things I had to do in the film – the cold mornings, the difficult scenes – and then they use someone else's voice."
It's hard not to feel some sympathy for Howson, plucked against the odds from open call auditions and pouring his heart and soul into playing brooding, vengeful Heathcliff. [...]
At least Howson is now able to speak out, uncensored. He can discuss the experience and make his feelings known. In so doing, however, he directs our attention to a whole other mystery. The film's credits acknowledge Solomon Glave as "Young Heathcliff" and Howson as the adult incarnation. But who was his invisible co-star; the unsung hero of Wuthering Heights? So far, it seems, the voice is keeping mum.
(Xan Brooks)
Others are luckier: Gather thinks that Michael Fassbender's role as Edward Rochester is unforgettable. Coincidentally, the Omaha World-Herald explores the popularity of Edward as a name.

The Spectator's Book Blog suggests Mark Forsyth's The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language for the Christmas stocking. As the book points out,
In Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë popularized the use of ‘gormless’, all but single-handedly retiring the once-current parent word ‘gorm’. (Matthew Richardson)
According to The Telegraph,
Where fiction, such as the new film versions of We Need to Talk About Kevin and Wuthering Heights, addresses the roots of “evil”, policy-makers have been less forensic. (Mary Riddell)
The Oregonian has an article on Mr. Darcy Dreamboat, a new play by Camille Cettina:
Cettina retraces her life through literature, exploring how what she read molded the ways she saw herself and the world she inhabited. She begins with the self-empowering childhood discovery of Nancy Drew and then progresses through her high school preoccupation with romance and true love that finds expression for her in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre." (Richard Wattenberg)
Varsity thinks that Madingley Hall (owned by the University of Cambridge)
looks like something out of a Brontë novel as you approach up the hill from Madingley village. (Oliver Rees and Anna Fairshaw)
The Brontë Weather Project takes a look at a few letters from Charlotte. The Invisible Mentor writes about Agnes Grey. Wuthering Heights 2011 is reviewed by Cosmopolis, Ellipsis, Squarise, Just Joshin, Nick Lacey on Films, Movie Ramble and Beames on Film.

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