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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018 12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
The Drunkard's Lament (aka The Branwell Wuthering Heights 1898) is medium-length film which will be presented at the upcoming Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI) in April:
The Drunkard's Lament
Directed, written and edited by Jim Finn
With: Linda Montano, Paul Tarragó, Isabella Pinheiro, Murray Gordon, Nandini Khaund.
Cinematography by Ty Flowers, Josh Lewis
Music by Colleen Burke

An epistolary, musical reimagining of Wuthering Heights by Branwell—the tubercular, alcoholic brother of Emily Brontë.
When Branwell — the ne’er-do-well, tubercular brother of the Brontë sisters — discovered that Emily was writing her first novel, he offered to be her editor. Once he realized that he was the model for the alcoholic Hindley Earnshaw character, he reimagined the story as a musical memoir of his own life with Hindley as the hero. Edited and arranged from the damaged film fragments, notes, sheet music and letters to his best friend Francis, this weird and revisionist adaptation is meant to have premiered on the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Emily and Branwell Brontë.
Ever since I read Wuthering Heights when my high school girlfriend left her summer reading paperback at my house, I’ve never been happy with any of the film or television adaptations. One problem is that the female lead dies halfway through. Another is that the anti-hero Heathcliff rapes his wife, hangs her dog and kills his only son. Film adaptations always play churlish but ruggedly handsome while some of the BBC miniseries adaptations go the other way and portray him as a hairy lurker of the moors. And then there are so many amazing characters like Joseph the evangelical, Hindley the drunken uncle, pathetic nouveau riche Lockwood and sickly little Linton that get short shrift in adaptations that focus on the unconsummated love stories between Heathcliff and Cathy.
I had read about a lost early cinema adaptation and wanted to create a film close to the time when people were more freaked out about what a creep Heathcliff was. As I was researching, I came across early negative reviews of the novel. By the time she died at age 30, Emily Brontë had been writing poetry and speculative historical fiction for over 20 years. Most of those writings have been lost, and she left relatively few personal letters. Unlike Emily, Branwell wrote letters constantly, and his descent can be traced from the promising brilliant artist of the family to the broke, alcoholic and opium-addict who was sick so often that no one noticed when he contracted tuberculosis.
As I read his letters, I became interested in what he must have thought of his sisters’ surprising fame. I used his letters as a scaffold to build the film around—taking liberties with his words to allow for the many hours Branwell spent in pubs and bumming off people, which would never have been committed to paper. He has generally been portrayed as the loser brother to three brilliant sisters. But what if his brilliance was in a kind of charmed performance for the local drunks? I mean, why did people continually give him money, alcohol and drugs? Why did a wealthy woman risk her estate and children to have an affair with her son’s tutor? Obviously sexism played a large part in his being considered a genius when at least two of his sisters were actual geniuses, but even so there must have been something. The story of the husband who wanted him dead for sleeping with his wife was a good start. I wanted to bring some of that strange charm and brilliance of Branwell to a revisionist adaptation of Wuthering Heights. (Read more)


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