Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights has raised the bar for all Bronte period dramas from now on. The trappings we have come to expect from period dramas- the classical background music, the lavish costumes, the formal language- have been stripped away to leave the stark humanity of the story itself and the setting of the Yorkshire Moors.
This film shows the children playing violent dominance games in the mud, rubbing it over each others faces, literally pullling hair out and licking bloody wounds clean. And throughout it all you can hear the wind howling over the moors. And closeups of the skeletons of birds and insects crawling through the mud. You know you’re watching a potrayal of real weather in yorkshire when theres mud and torrential rain everywhere.I’ve never felt so emotionally attached to the actors of cathy and heathcliff before. The transition from the child to adult actors felt very seamless and natural despite my usual dislike for this method. The chemistry was electric and the children hardly spoke.
I forgot I was watching a film at some points. Because it was so intimate and there was no background music the whole thing felt very voyeuristic. This is actually what makes the film sometimes uncomfortable or uneasy viewing and why it succeeds for me so well. That feeling is so easily lost in previous adaptations of this book. With Arnold’s version it feels like we have stepped right into not the book of Wuthering Heights but the story itself.