Each adaptation of Wuthering Heights has, to date, been imperfect. Early adaptations, such as William Wyler’s 1939 adaptation, chose to exclude the second-half of the novel – in turn losing much of the emotional complexity Emily Brontë’s novel is so imbued with. Later adaptations, in adapting the novel in its entirety, often struggled with the multi-layered, complex narrative.
Coky Giedroyc’s 2009 adaptation, starring Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley as the central protagonists, is for me personally, the closest adaptation to capturing Brontë’s atmospheric text: more a story of hate, than of love, Giedroyc’s direction allows the violent nature of the text to take centre stage.
Despite this, even the 2009 adaptation is left undoubtedly lacking – weaker members of the cast lend themselves heavily towards melodrama, whilst the direction is arguably too loose at times, struggling to maintain its hold over the narrative. The decision by screenwriter Peter Bowker to disrupt the narrative structure simply complicates proceedings.
It is this lack of a truly good adaptation that has reinforced my excitement for Andrea Arnold’s adaptation. Arnold, a wonderfully talented director, has both referenced and recognised the importance of nature in the novel and her casting decisions could prove to be inspired. Kaya Scodelario (Cathy) and James Howson (Heathcliff) particularly seem well cast, their youth lending an urgency to proceedings.
The teaser footage hugely impresses, the use of a hand-held camera lends a real feeling of immediacy, its use is also highly refreshing, breaking down the more conventional, rather staid style of period dramas. Here nature is almost oppressive, with Arnold perfectly capturing the landscape so integral to both the novel and its characterisation. Needless to say, I have high hopes of Arnold’s film, truly hoping it may finally provide me with a perfect adaptation.