“Wuthering Heights” (PBS – 1998)

Robert Cavanah said: …It occurred to me that he was simply a man made of the simplest drives and needs and wants, and they were all summed up in three words – love of Cathy.  I never played him as a villain, just a man of enormous capacity for love, who had it all slapped back in his face.

This version of Wuthering Heights was made for British TV, then shown on Masterpiece Theatre (PBS) in the USThe Northern accent used by the actors suits the story.  Unfortunately, the Earnshaw home is a humble cottage, not a gothic house.  This was no doubt due to budget limitations.  As several others mentioned, this film gives us chunks of dialogue straight from the novel.  Very cool!

The anti-hero protagonist, Heathcliff, is played by Scottish character actor Robert Cavanagh.  He’s not handsome, but has a great voice and strong screen  presence.   There are a couple of scenes where he gets very rough with wife Isabella Linton, but overall, this Heathcliff is not a complete monster.  He’s very much a product of his difficult past.

The actor who does justice to Heathcliff’s vulnerable/confused side is Ralph Fiennes.  Great acting is in the eyes, as Barbara Stanwyck said, and it’s all there w/ Fiennes!  He’s accessible in some ways, but still mysterious.  Olivier was very strong in the 1939 version, but a bit too much of a gentleman in some scenes.

My 20s were torture. I found men terrifying. I didn’t know how to relate to them and, because of that, there was no way I could have stood on a stage and asked people to look at me. I just wasn’t comfortable in my skin.  -Orla Brady

I really liked this Cathy, who is played by Irish actress Orla Brady.  Her unusually beautiful face doesn’t detract from her fine acting.  I was especially impressed when she showed Cathy’s strong/willful side.  Of course, no one can top La Binoche in the 1992 version!

The love between the doomed pair is portrayed in a more earthy (perhaps lustful) manner, not all pie in the sky.  Some viewers seemed to like it; others wanted more innocence/romance.  Speaking of innocence…  The younger generation are portrayed very well by Sarah Smart and Matthew Macfadyen.  (Yes, that’s a youthful Matthew as Hareton Earnshaw.  And he’s holding a puppy.  Awww…)

I think it would be awesome to have another version of this story w/ age-appropriate actors.  (This was done successfully by Franco Zeffirelli in the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet.)  The younger Heathcliff and Cathy would have to be around 6-8 y.o. and the older ones 16-18 y.o.  If the lovers are teens, things will make more sense to viewers.  After all, it’s a odd to see 25-35 y.o. actors running through the moors, crying all night, and becoming furious at the slightest matter.

The latest BBC version was quite good, thanks mostly to Tom Hardy, who is a very intriguing actor.  He has a mystery about him, like Fiennes.  Heathcliff should be dangerous w/o alienating the audience completely.

Click below to see a cute vid w/ Macfadyen:


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