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LFF 2011 Diary, Day 12: Wuthering Heights (Rating: ***) This latest adaptation of the classic Emily Bronte novel is something of a bold and audacious re-envisaging. Gone is the old age language and in with a modern sounding dialect. There is also less of the traditional gothic undertones that made the novel so overwhelmingly popular. Instead, this version has a bleaker and more socially real feel to life in the Yorkshire moors. Director Andrea Arnold also reconfigured the character of Heathcliff as a black man, raising tensions and atmospheres surrounding race and interracial relationships. All in all, Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is as detached in tone and appearance than any of the previous adaptations. If Bronte’s novel has proved one thing, it is that the central relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff is one that will continue to endure itself to audiences for a long time to come. Narratively Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is very faithful to its source material. When Heathcliff is brought to the Earnshaw farm the bond between him and Catherine is almost immediate. The disharmony however between Heathcliff and Hindley is extremely powerful, with echoes of ‘slaves and masters’ running through the early parts of the film. There’s a genuine brutality in these scenes; harsh beatings and whippings for disobedience are particularly difficult to watch. Aesthetically there is a style akin to Shane Meadows’ fillms - skinheads and rough talking litter the screen - but there’s still a romantic heart to this new Wuthering Heights. Particularly between the younger Cathy and Heathcliff. Their blossoming love is played out with very little dialogue and broody looks as they frolic in the mud. Both Heathcliff and Cathy are wild and animalistic, that is until Cathy is taken in by the Linton family and transformed into a lady. At this point the narrative fast forwards from the teenage years of Cathy and Heathcliff to their older selves (played by Kaya Scodelario and James Howson). After running away and making something of himself, Heathcliff is a transformed man; confident, strong and exuding a sexual prowess. Though despite this, the older versions never quite carry on the momentum created by their younger counterparts. At over two hours, Wuthering Heights is a little overlong. But with plenty of flapping shirts howling in the wind, Arnold’s vision is very daring and atmospheric, if not a little unrewarding by the end. JJ


LFF 2011 Diary, Day 12 - WUTHERING HEIGHTS