Posts Tagged ‘classics’

Recommended: ☆☆☆☆

This is my first Hardy and it won’t be my last! This guy can seriously write; his description of the Wessex landscapes and settings is absolutely beautiful. He has such a way of describing the most tender emotions, whether it be the more obvious feelings such as passion or the harder ones to describe such as confusion or frustration, at varying levels of intensity. But I must prepare you; there is something in long descriptions of farming life, where you will learn more than you ever want to know about milking cows, threshing wheat, and slicing turnips!

Since Hardy is notorious for putting his characters through terrible fate; I already knew this is no fairy tale. But I have never been so angry with the characters in a book! So, Tess is this poor, wonderful, trusting, and hardworking farm girl, who is scarcely past girlhood. She is beautiful, gorgeous in fact. Her stupid irresponsible parents sent her to the home of a d’Urbevilles, thought to be relatives, to claim her connection and potentially get some money or perhaps employment. She meets her sleazy so-call cousin, Alec, who has a thing for pretty ladies and tries to win her affection. This guy creeps me out; I can feel the hair on my skin stand up whenever he’s present in the book! Oh, how I cringed when he feeds her a strawberry from his hand and tries to kiss her. He is ruthless, claiming her for himself from the moment he lays eyes on her. He stalks her and takes advantage of her. But she never actually says ‘no’ and even after the ‘incident’ she never outright resented it and continues to live with him for ‘a little while’. Her silent suffering throughout the book drove me a bit crazy. When she finally meets Mr. Perfect, Angel, she gets all wishy-washy: “Oh, I love him, but Oh, I cannot marry him, Oh, how I am no good, but Oh, I will marry him anyway, so I can never tell him the truth, so he’ll never know my past.” She is torn between her strong love for Angel and fear of losing him. I adore Angel at the beginning; he says the tenderest and sweetest things to her and his unwavering wish to marry her, got me hoping this ‘Angel’ (he plays the harp too) will rescue her, but there is no such happy twist!  His feeling about Tess changes completely when she tells him everything after their marriage; he abandons Tess. Then comes stalker Alec circling back to her! Talk about rotten luck with rotten men!  Angel really did wrong Tess–when he eventually realizes this, it comes too late.  Indeed, beauty does have its price. She is ultimately crushed under the weight of the world and her society.

This story is hard to take. It’s unfair. It exudes injustice from beginning to end. I didn’t know who to blame really–Alec, Angel, her parents, Tess herself, society??


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Recommended: ☆☆☆☆    

Running time: 105 min, Genre: Gothic film

Some people say this is a horrible movie and some people say this is an excellent movie. For me, the more I watched it, the more I liked it. This Wuthering Heights film is what I consider the ‘classic’ version (to me the melodrama 1939 version doesn’t count but is impressive for it’s time.) It is a fantastic adaptation and is possibly my favorite because I love the atmosphere and feel of this version most. But it’s not perfect, there’s a lot of things I would change.  This film begins with an interesting cameo of Sinead O’Connor as Emily Bronte, who narrates the story to the audiences, very cool. (Maybe she should have played Catherine instead, she looks pretty with hair! 🙂 )

Juliette Binoche’s performance as Catherine is lovely and she has natural beauty (I think she looks a lot like Julia Roberts). Her portrayal of Cathy is playful and vivacious. However they seem to left out her bad display of temper, being a haughty spoiled brat that she is in the text. She looks too mature for the part, all that giggling did not help her look any younger! Suffice, she gave us some great scenes. I love when Cathy finally tells of her love of Heathcliff, her facial expression as she says it breaks your heart. The scene before her death when she hallucinates at the window looking at Wuthering Heights, is very nicely done. She is believable as her own daughter, though her playing double role is a bad move. Cathy Jr isn’t suppose to look anything like her mother!

Ralph Fiennes is a very fine actor and is adept at playing brooding characters with a lot of pent up passion brewing under the surface. The part where Heathcliff breaks into the chapel and holds her body was unforgetable. His performance makes you see the hurt without him saying a word, but something just isn’t right. He’s got that leering vampire look happening. Oh how I hated that long, greasy, black wig on his head! Come to think of it, everyone has bad hair in this film. I think he looks a bit stiff in some of the scenes, that even his speech and mannerisms are with an unnatural restraint (honestly he bores me sometimes.) I imagined Heathcliff a lot tougher, angrier, and too emotionally immature to keep his fury under wrap. I think his coldness played out better in his latter years. Like Binoche, he is simply too mature. Though I prefer Tom Hardy’s portrayal better, this Heathcliff (working with the script given) is unsympathetic and more violent, which is closer to the book in that sense. There are scenes of him smacking Cathy Jr around. Heathcliff is a woman beater; he savagely beats his wife Isabella and his son Linton.

Majority of the supporting cast was supperb, especially Janet McTeer as Ellen Dean. Jason Riddington as Hareton didn’t look right, I think he belongs on the set of Tarzan instead. The film feels a bit rushed. Much of their childhood and sibling rivalry are glossed over. I wanted to see more early toxic family life and was rather disappointed that the character Hindley is given so little attention. Like the other versions, the love between the two main characters is established rather briefly. 

I love the atmosphere and gothic ‘feel’ of this movie most. They definitely had the budget to create that old, other-wordly, ethereal, elaborate backdrop. The costumes are beautiful and accurate. The cinematography, music, and scenery are stunning, lush, and haunting. The Heights looks fucking awesome, inside and out! I never imagined it looking like a ‘mini Gothic castle’ but I loved it. The Grange is far too fancy but the interior is what I had imagined it to be, with crimson walls and laced with gold and crystals.

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Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Running time: 114 mins, Genre: Gothic Film

Yes, the age discrepancy irks me big time. Heathcliff (Robert Cavanah) and Catherine (Orla Brady) look a bit silly prancing around the moors like children when they look like 40 year olds! Suffice, their performance is pretty good and there is good chemistry between the two. This Heathcliff isn’t handsome and seems wimpy in size, but he has good stage presence and is emotionally charged. He plays with a fair balance of angst and aggression, though his tranformation from farm boy-to gentlemen-to madman was almost non-existence. I find Ralph Fiennes’s Heathcliff much more mysterious and vulnerable. Oyla Brady has unsual beauty and looks good for her age. She plays a strong and impudent Catherine, but she seems to lack the spirit of the charater; she’s suppose to be more immature, vivacious, and spoiled. And Nelly (Polly Heminway), who suppose to be Hindley’s age, is too old for the part, though I do like her.
Now that the age issue out of the way, the rest of the cast is brilliant and young Catherine is adorable. Overall I think this television adaptation is excellent and follows closely to the novel, even giving us dialogue straight from the text. Yay! The aesthetics of this film is beautiful; I love the costumes & dresses, cinematography, Yorkshire accents, and gothic feel. This film comes very close to what I’d like to see. It begins in normal fashion: Lockwood arriving at the Heights in bad weather and briefly has an altercation with the dogs, stays the night, and sees Catherine’s ghost. The haunting of Catherine throughout the film was rendered nicely, given it’s budget. I especially like the grave scenes. Yes gross, but heartbreaking and that’s one scary-ass corpse.

My favorite part of this film is the love story of the younger generation, which was portrayed very well by Sarah Smart (Cathy Jr) and Matthew Macfadyen (Hareton). My favorite Hareton and Cathy Jr. ever. I love Macfadyen’s portrayal of Hareton – his gentle expressions, deep voice, and careful speech – he didn’t come off dumb at all.  Sarah Smart looks and breathes the part:

 “slender, and apparently scarely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding: small features, very fair, flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck…”

Most of the great scenes in the book are done well and even a few details from the book that were added that isn’t in the other versions, such as Heathcliff tying up Isabelle’s dog and a rough “love scene” between Heathcliff and Isabella, where he semi-raped her! Poor naive Isabella. What I’d like to see more of is the sibling riveries between Hindley and Heathcliff; Hindley just didn’t seem all that menacing here. In this version, I love the setting at the Grange, it is warm, posh, and practically laced with gold but the Heights is a bit shabby and actually looks like a farmhouse. It lacks the cool architectural features from the text:

“…narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones…grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless little boys.”

Oh wuthever, no big deal. The final scene here is much more impressive than other versions, with Heathcliff lying dead and looking at Cathy’s portrait.

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