Monday 30 January 2012

Wuthering Heights at International Film Festival Rotterdam

On 29 January 2012 at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam I saw the first screening in the Netherlands of the newest film-version of Wuthering Heights. I found it impressive. It is real and rough. The director and screenwriter Andrea Arnold made the right choices. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are farms, not mansions. And Heathcliff, Cathy, Hindley and all are played by amateurs/non-actors. The film is made from Heathcliff’s point of view, because the director asked herself why he would do the bad things he does. He becomes as bad as the weather: it rains or storms all the time, there’s mud everywhere: earth has a leading role. And never music, except when Cathy is singing. And never a sunny day. But the director also makes very subtle scenes, like the one when Cathy goes mad and pulls the feathers from her pillow: you only see the feathers inside the house from outside through a window. This way of using windows to tell certain scenes made me think that Andrea Arnold knows Emily’s writing very well. And it makes me wonder what people who did not read the book (half the audience) make of these kind of scenes.

The director was interviewed before the screening and she told the audience that she read the book in girlhood and that it made a profound impression on her, like on many readers. But she also thinks that she and all the directors before her are mad to try to make a movie out of Wuthering Heights. It’s a stupid thing to do, not a sensible decision. Nobody can master this book! Leave it alone!

Well fortunately she didn’t and though I can never forgive her (nor the other directors) for not telling the story of the second generation, I still think you should see this film.

And I like this director not only for her film but for the best advice she gave her audience in Rotterdam: Read the book!

Marcia Zaaijer

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