Year of Revisiting #7 – Wuthering Heights
“You said I killed you–haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad!”
Wuthering Heights has long been a favorite because it’s a ghost story and a love story and also a little edgy. Heathcliff, particularly as an adult, is truly violent and despicable and also a bit bizarre. He digs up Catherine’s grave to be near her. He wants to be haunted by her. He’s tortured and broken lover numero uno.
But what I really love about the story–the romance that is the most engaging–is not the Heathcliff/Catherine affair but the Hareton/Cathy one, which is always overshadowed by the craziness of the elders. The younger set is delightfully charming and sweet, and I would gladly read an entire novel about Cathy teaching the brutish Hareton to read by bestowing kisses as rewards.
In conjunction with my re-reading, via the audio book wonderfully acted by Janet McTeer and David Timson, I wanted to rewatch the two movies I recalled enjoying, but one (with Ralph Fiennes) I couldn’t find streaming. So I settled on the 2011 version, which I’d never seen before, with James Howson and Kaya Scodelario, whose tagline apparently is “Love is a Force of Nature.” Boy, is it. This Amazon review says it all:
At one point, young Catherine literally licks Heathcliff’s bloody wounds.
What? I get that they’re supposed to be tenderly animalistic, but … no. Also, the actors playing the adult versions look literally nothing like the actors playing the younger versions. Nothing. No resemblance at all. I can’t overstate this. Plus–the worst offense–they cut out the Cathy/Hareton story!
Thank goodness for Tom Hardy. His movie is pretty good, and he makes an excellent Heathcliff, despite that fact that he occasionally chews a little scenery. (Once he asks Catherine, “When can we be alooooooone?” like Lawrence Olivier doing Shakespeare.) Tom H. brings the crazy, though, and he is generally the right amount of menacing. This version is a bit sexed up, but little Cathy and Hareton are great at showing how love can blossom in misery. “If you strike me, Hareton will strike you,” Cathy rails at Heathcliff, and the significance of that bold statement–that she is now first in Hareton’s heart and that Heathcliff’s reign of terror is ending–is conveyed beautifully when we see the lovers happy and peaceful, playfully teasing over a book.