On Apr. 23, Oscilloscope Laboratories will deliver DVD and Blu-ray editions of Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s only — but classic — novel, Wuthering Heights (she died at age 30 almost to the day one year after the book was first published late in 1847).
The ARR is an even 200 days and the box office take from the film’s limited major metro run was $96,889.
For anyone reading the novel (yes, college assignment), the nature of Heathcliff’s heritage is alluded to as gypsy-like and of lowly station, which suggests origins of mixed-race lineage. He’s found an orphan on the streets of Liverpool and little is known of his parentage … Mr. Earnshaw took him in, adopted him and treated him as a son; he didn’t seem to care.
The classic 1939 film version of Wuthering Heights, from director William Wyler and starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, sets this issue off to the side somewhat and was far more concerned with the sexual nature of Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship — and how to tone it down, but keep the implications politely there for the audience of the day.
Writer/director Andrea Arnold (Oscar-win for 2005 short film, Wasp, plus has twice won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize — Fish Tank in 2009; Red Road in 2006) drops all of the pretense with the casting of newcomers Solomon Glave and James Howson as younger and older versions of Heathcliff.
She goes even further by bringing into sharper focus the hateful (jealous) relationship between Hindley (Lee Shaw, also in his film debut) … which becomes one of master and slave (of course the tables are turned as time passes).
England of the day (mid 18th Century) is not picturesque, but a filthy place — except, of course, the nearby moors. The passion between Heathcliff and Catherine (played by Shannon Beer and Kaya Scordelario) is there, but as with the novel, it is a dance of love, lust and tragedy.
Bonus features are highlighted by the newly-prepared “Video Essay with Film Critic David Fear of Time Out New York.”