Director: Peter Kosminsky
Screenplay: Anne Devlin (from the novel of Emily Brontë)
First of all, I didn’t know there were so many adaptations of the Wuthering Heights! I got curious about its most recent version, from 2011, so eventually I’ll see it too. Second of all, I read the book and loved it, but it was a long time ago so I didn’t remember the story. By seeing this movie from 1992, which I’ve been wanting to see since I read the book, but for some reason only did it now, I remembered the story but if some details are missing, as it commonly happens in the movie versions,I can’t identify them… so I’m only going to talk about the movie itself, without any comparison with the book, unless I remember it.
I liked the movie very much, the cast was fantastic and fit the characters very well. The characters themselves are very dense, especially the main ones: Catherine Earnshaw Linton and Heathcliff. I remember the book giving more attention to Nellie, the maid, but they preferred to let her aside and focus on Cathy and Heathcliff.
The story itself is also very complex, with great part of the movie being an analepsis: it starts at one point (the arrival of Mr. Lockwood) and goes back 30 years to explain everything until that moment and then goes on, telling the story of the second generation. So at this point, in the begining of the film, Heathcliff is supposedly older but for some reason they only aged Nellie (a little bit) and young Catherine’s father, Edgar Linton (I shall name her “young Catherine” because her mother was the Catherine Earnshaw I just mentioned, they both have the same first name). To make things a bit more clear, I found a family tree of the characters that you can see below:
As I said it’s a complicated story with several characters involved, and it’s a bit confusing because they are all very close, even becoming family. Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff loved each other very deeply. But they were very different as Cathy’s father brought Heathcliff one night from the streets and adopted him, making his children accept him as their brother, which only she was capable of. Her brother, Hindley, didn’t like Heathcliff since the beginning and when their father died, he made the new kid live as their servant. That didn’t stop Cathy from spending lovely moments with him, listening to Nature and laughing joyously with him, despite everyone else call him a gypsy. Certain night, she and Heathcliff went to spy on their closest neighbors, the Lintons, but they were found by that family’s dogs and Cathy was bitten, having to spent a few months in their home to get better. Hindley forbids Heathcliff to talk to her when she comes home, and even ends up beating him. With everyone always against him, his hatred grows. Only Cathy can make him live. But now, after so much time spent with Edgar Linton, she’s not the same… She still loves Heathcliff with all her heart, but she also likes Edgar’s company. Note that, despite saying with her own words she loves Edgar, one can see she doesn’t. She always loved Heathcliff and always would, but their relationship shifts from pure delight to a love-hate relationship. Cathy ends up marrying Edgar, and Heathcliff disappears for two years.
In the meantime, Hindley had a child, Hareton, and his wife dies after the boy’s birth. While Heathcliff’s gone, Hindley becomes an alcoholic and upon his return, passes all the debts he had contracted to Heathcliff, for the man’s now apparently richer somehow. Cathy jumps with joy with the news of Heathcliff’s return, and both spend some time together again, despite Edgar Linton’s disapproved eyes. At Heathcliff’s eyes, they must be together, at Cathy’s eyes, it’s just for the old times’ sake, but both know they still love each other, no matter the paths they chose. As the story progresses, Cathy gets ill, has a baby girl, Catherine Linton, and eventually dies. In her last moments with Heathcliff, he tells her it’s her fault they couldn’t be together, for they both new to belong to each other and nothing could ever separate them, but she turned away by her own will, betraying her own heart. As I see things, I was with him on this one, although I like her character very much. Why would she turn her back to him knowing they love each other? I suppose it’s because of the shame of getting married with that gypsy boy everyone looks down upon… But… came on… They were meant to be!!! Catherine’s character is more deep that she appears. There are at least two occasions where she stops her cheerful, constant laughing, and talks in a melancholic way, as if she had always been like that, as if she never laughs. Until her child’s birth and her illness, Cathy is always very cheerful and free. But since Heathcliff’s departure, she knew she had lost him, and slowly withers like a flower… In spite of his anger, Heathcliff never stops loving Catherine, but now he hates her at the same time, he hates her and everyone around him (perhaps except Nellie, she’s kind of neutral and loves both Heathcliff and Catherine, and the their descendants), and wants revenge for what has been done to him.
Since ever, everyone sees him as an evil person, so I guess he decides to incarnate that idea and find the best way to get his revenge is by marrying Edgar’s sister (while Cathy’s still alive) and later through all the children: Cathy’s daughter, his own son, Linton Heathcliff and Hindley’s son, Hareton. With his schemes he ends up owning bot properties: Earnshaw’s and Linton’s, and being the lord of those kids. Mr. Lockwood is the new lodger in the Linton’s house, and the movie starts with his arrival to Heathcliff’s house, lost on his way to Granje (where the Linton’s house is), so he spends the night there. Headcliff now lives with Hareton and young Catherine, his own son Linton died eventually, as he was a sick boy. And mean too. You see, one of the methods Headcliff finds for his revenge is to treat Hindley’s son the same way they treated him, so the boy can’t even read and is very alike Heathcliff when he was young. But we see both Heathcliff and Hareton arriving in the beginning and they seem father and son coming from a hunting, so I guess Heathcliff has an affection for the boy, even more than he has for his own son. More: I think Heathcliff loves them all but thinks he has the duty to hate them and to have his revenge by those means, so he never breaks, he’s always stiff and hatefull for everyone, but inside he’s deeply missing his dear Cathy.
That night, Mr. Lockwood ends up staying in the old room where only Heathcliff and Catherine liked to stay, with inscriptions carved on the wood by Heathcliff himself, with their initials. There, he finds an old book with three names on the pages: Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff and Catherine Linton. From this we can assume how Cathy was confused or indecisive… She loved Heathcliff but knew a girl like her were not supposed to marry someone like him. She like Edgar, he was nice, but wasn’t the same… She ended up making her choice, and as we saw before in another review, our choices are capable of affecting everything and everyone around us, and that’s what happened. Heathcliff got mixed feelings and he also made a choice: he chose not to let go, he chose to haunt everyone he could who were related to that family. And for speaking of hauntings, his love for her was so stung that he cursed her when she died, daring her to haunt him, wishing for her never to leave him. So all he wanted was for her to be near him, even if it was to haunt him… how dramatic and beautiful!
And so she does. After discovering the carvings and the book, Mr. Lockwood is surprised by some tree branches that break the glass windows due to the great storm outside, and as he’s pulling the branches out, we see two hands holding his arms, slowly pushing him in, and hear a voice asking him to let her in. The we see her phantasmagoric face floating in front of him and he leaves screaming. Everyone comes to see what happened and Lockwood realizes the face he just saw is the same of the young girl in front of him (who is young Catherine, but he doesn’t know that). Heathcliff decides to go to the room and spend the night there, and as he enters he sees his lover’s spirit. The two enter the compartment where they used to lay down together, and Nellie finds Heathcliff dead the next morning.
Young Catherine looks exactly like her mother, only with blonde hair from the Linton’s side, it’s even the same actress who portrays her, Juliette Binoche. And Hareton is very similar to young Heathcliff as I already said. Naturally, the two fall in love, as if it was meant to be, just like Cathy and Heathcliff 30 years earlier, and just like them, they also go wandering through Nature.
Earlier I said how the movie starts, but I meant the story, for the movie itself starts with a young girl – we assume is Emily Brontë – entering the Wuthering Heights (the big house, now old and decaying), and telling us the story she imagines happened there. As it begins so it ends: the same girl leaving the Wuthering Heights and finishing the tale she just told us.