Sunday 18 June 2023

‘Emily’ — taking liberties

I always find it jarring when the film concentrates on the director's interpretation rather than making the the film believable. People, manners and social behaviour were different back then. 

In the film Emily, Emily Brontë was romping around the moors and barns in a very unvictorian way! If nothing else, the weather in Haworth would make you think twice – and it took so long for them to unbutton all their clothes in the barn, I was left worrying about how on earth they would get Emily back in a neat enough manner to walk back to the Parsonage! 

They'll have them carrying mobile phones around next – claiming they would have done so if they were born today. Of course, we all know the Brontës were Aliens masquerading as humans, or is that the Royal Family? 

They say that Emily must have had a passionate affair of her own to be able to write Wuthering Heights, but does that mean you need to have murdered someone to be able to write a crime novel? 

I well remember the social pressure of my parents' and grandparents' generations to pre-marital shenanigans, and worse the stigma of unmarried mothers to the whole family. So much has changed since then – how much more so since the Brontë era. Even in everyday life here in Yorkshire – the neighbours would condemn you as a lazy housewife if you didn't scrub your doorstep to within an inch of its life every week. 

I heard from an elderly lady how her mother had hidden a loaf from the shop in her bag so neighbours wouldn't see her carrying home a bought loaf instead of her baking one at home. People can be harsh if you don't conform. 

Also, the Brontë sisters were raised on local tales of the families who lived in the area. The Brontës had storytelling genes and Emily had a unique character and deep feelings for nature and the natural world and the people around her. Her interpretation would be original. 

The film had its good points – the scenery is beautiful – but I just felt uneasy with the love story part in Emily. It took too many liberties – as, indeed, did Emily in this film! 

  Sheila Fordham

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