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The Original "Getting Real"

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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Emily Bronte and "Wuthering Heights"

I don't care what the critics write! Of all the adaptations of "Wuthering Heights" that I have seen, this is the best. Shown in two parts, this version of the book was so much more than the old Olivier/Oberon love story, or the ridiculous version that tried to be closer to the book but cast a French Cathy! This version, in my opinion, capture Heathcliff perfectly! Tom Hardy's portrayal was wonderful because he was attractive one minute, most unattractive the next. He was loving and passionate, and equally hateful and violent - humanity in the raw and passion-driven. Sarah Lancashire's performance as Nelly was spot on, and both Tom Hard and Charlotte Riley finally (as opposed to earlier versions) had the correct Yorkshire accents!

Most brilliant of all was the way this version returned one's thought to the author of the book and the astounding fact that a very young woman created this epic purely from her own imagination. Emily Bronte didn't wander thither and yon, or gather masses of research to create such a story. She spent a short - horrendous to her - unpleasant time 'confined' as a teacher in Belgium and felt so deprived of the wildness of the moors that she became ill. Back home, she walked miles and miles every day, and from her walks, her own singular mind such a story of utter passion, darkness, probably the most powerful love story ever written came into being.

There is so much of Emily's brother, Branwell, in Heathcliff, but there is a lot more besides. It is fascinating that Emily, at so tender an age, caught a chill at Branwell's funeral and died a short while after. The undertones of incest in the book are obvious but I am absolutely not implying anything untoward between Branwell and Emily, but I do believe that Emily (who was so absorbed in spirituality) was the other side of Branwell's coin. Branwell was the epitome of a spirit turned to the hellish aspect of life, while Emily was seeking heaven. They were one soul in different aspects. They were so close as children and emotionally deeply involved. Absolutely nothing untoward in it, just the emotional/spiritual manipulations that affected all of that family! Emily - the parson's daughter, who, were she alive today, would be seen as so insular - was the most fearless warrior in delving into the inner life and unashamedly created in her characters such raw passion that she was prepared to expose every taboo. The greater part of Emily's short life was lived in her own head. To me, she is the most fascinating of all the Bronte sisters and ought to be listed among the greatest spiritual seekers of all time. She was utterly Pagan - her poetry attests to that - and, like Cathy in the novel, she simply could not live without the breath of freedom of the Moors and Nature.

"Wuthering Heights", as this latest adaptation shows, is anything but a simple love story. It is about passion and the soul; the fine line between heaven and hell, and living life on the edge, where convention is simply a prison....and begs the questions, "What is it to be truly alive?" and, "What is real goodness, and what is evil?"

Thank you to the casting department, the screenplay and script writers and to the great actors for such a brilliant presentation of the book!!

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