8 April 2006 | krorie
Olivier is Heathcliff
Two of the most complex characters in all English literature are Hamlet and Heathcliff. Is it any wonder that one of the most capable English actors of them all should play both on celluloid? There is no better movie Hamlet than Olivier's. He also gives the definitive Heathcliff movie portrayal. Neither Hamlet nor Heathcliff are saints or sinners. Both are somewhere between heaven and hell. Both have dark, indistinct hues as part of their aura. Heathcliff's Ophelia is Cathy played to perfection by the wonderful Merle Oberon. Added to the immense acting talents of the two leads is the matching shadowy cinematography of Gregg Toland. Mix well and serve with just the right touches by master director William Wyler and you have a film that for once is almost as good as the literary masterpiece on which it is based. The only element missing is part of the story left out for several reasons, one being brevity. Few can argue that the best part of "Gone With The Wind" is the first half. Following the burning of Atlanta the film becomes much more melodramatic and sentimental. This does not happen to "Wuthering Heights."
The almost perfect country household in 19th century England is disrupted by the entrance of an interloper, a street urchin picked up by Cathy's do-gooder father. He is called Heathcliff, no last name. From the very beginning he is a disturbed and fanciful child, attempting to ride away and disappear on the wild moor. Also from the start, there is a bond between Cathy and Heathcliff, just as there is resentment and loathing from Cathy's profligate brother, Hindley. When the father dies, Heathcliff is turned into a lowly stable boy by Hindley. Cathy and Heathcliff find a secret "castle" where they create their own isolated paradise. This cliff hideaway continues to be their haven for the rest of their lives. Heathcliff ultimately runs away to America and only returns when Cathy marries someone else to spite him. Eventually, he spites her by gaining ownership of Wuthering Heights and then marrying Cathy's sister-in-law. What sounds rather simple in outline is one of the most complex relationships in literature created by one of the greatest literary minds of the ages, Emily Bronte. "Wuthering Heights," the movie, is one of the pivotal films of the 1930's, and one of Hollywood's finest pictures ever.