In the 170 years since its publication, Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, has been one of the most frequently adapted works of literature, fascinating, inspiring, and provoking some of cinema’s greatest directors to try to render its dark, romantic, politically charged majesty. Its timeless story—the impossible love of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and the far-reaching scars it leaves on their families—has been transposed to various historical periods and countries, has had the races and genders of its characters changed to striking effect, and has been incarnated through a diverse assortment of visual aesthetics and performance styles. Which is the definitive adaptation? Wyler’s classical Hollywood rendition? Buñuel’s surrealist reimagining? Rivette’s materialist ghost story? Yoshida’s stark expressionist take? Arnold’s kitchen-sink realist interpretation? Decide for yourself by joining the Film Society in revisiting five of the greatest attempts to put Wuthering Heights on the screen.
Organized by Dan Sullivan.
Special thanks to Institut Français and Cultural Services of the French Embassy, NY.
In the 170 years since its publication, Emily Brontë’s only novel, the dark, romantic and politically charged Wuthering Heights, has been one of the most frequently adapted works of literature. Join the Film Society in revisiting five of the greatest attempts to put Wuthering Heights on the screen.
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Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are ideally cast as the immortal lovers in William Wyler’s prestige production, considered by many the definitive screen version of Emily Brontë’s novel.
Luis Buñuel’s typically gonzo take on Wuthering Heights relocates the story to 19th-century Mexico, where inflamed passions, psychosexual sadism, and necrophilia run wild to a throbbing Wagner score.
Jacques Rivette’s radical reinterpretation transforms this tale of white-hot love and fury into a coolly stylized, almost ritualistic chamber drama, foregoing blazing passion in favor of a mannered, Gallic moodiness.
Expressionistic landscapes, spurting blood, and demonic spirits: Brontë’s Gothic romance is transposed to feudal Japan for a powerfully stark, elemental take on the story.
The classic novel gets a strong shot of kitchen sink–style realism in Andrea Arnold’s refreshingly gritty, richly sensorial adaptation, which strips away all sentimentality to reveal the story’s wild, almost pagan heart.
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