Wuthering Heights: Again.

Feb 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Prose

Way back when Defenestration was still a babe, I reviewed MTV’s Wuthering Heights. It was hilarious and awful, and I foolishly thought that it would be the nail in the “Let’s Adapt Wuthering Heights for the Billionth Time,” coffin.

I was wrong. A few months ago another Wuthering Heights adaptation premiered on Masterpiece Theatre. I ignored it like I ignored my parole hearing. But it called to me like a siren song rife with redundancy. I had to see it, to perhaps come to understand why so many are stricken with DickensAustenBronteRemakeitis. And so I did, dear reader. And it was dreadful.

The NEW Wuthering Heights starts out like an episode of Cold Case Discovery Lovely Bones Files, in that the camera pans over a mysterious midnight moor. Creepy, yes, but not as creepy as Tom Hardy, who will soon appear with a wig stapled to his forehead.

The start of this Tom Waits video (aka NEW Wuthering Heights) pans down over Heathcliff (played by aforementioned Tom Hardy, with wig), who is in the middle of a dream in which Cathy is calling “Let me in! Let me in!” The viewer will immediately want to reply with “No, let me out! LET ME OUT!!”

After this not-riveting scene, The NEW Wuthering Heights quickly changes its course in comparison to all the billions and millions of of other adaptations before. It begins in the second half of the novel, when Cathy is already dead (lucky her) and her children and Heathcliff’s children are making woeful eyes at each other. Many struck with DickensAustenBronteRemakeitis, might cheer at this change of pace. But people too soon forget that there is a reason why so many other adaptations of Wuthering Heights skip over the second half of the novel. Because it’s fucking boring.

All boringest things aside (I guess), a usually forgotten character is introduced. Linton (wearing a pashmina, infected by FASHION MADNESS and a coughing disease) has just been told he must leave his uncle’s house for Wuthering Heights. His father, Heathcliff, awaits his return! Linton is terrified, and for good reason, because Heathcliff looks like The Cure.

Cathy’s daughter Catherine, is next to appear on screen. She is blissfully unaware that she is just as bitchy and self-involved as her mother. Yay! Continuity with Cathy’s Catherine! Not a moment too soon. Cathy’s Catherine, after inheriting her mother’s diary, runs off to the moors to do…stuff. She soon finds herself face to face with the foppish Trent Reznor (aka The Cure aka Heathcliff aka Tom Hardy WHAT is wrong with you?!).

Wigs Don't Cry

He’s all like “Let me swim the same deep waters as you” and she’s like “who are you” and he’s like, “You’re just like heaven.” But then he ACTUALLY says “I was acquainted with your mother.” Then he leers and you can tell his inner Heathcliff voice is saying “SEXUALLY.” Gross.

Girl, U Look So Good In Yo' Grave

Girl, U Look So Good In Yo' Grave

Basically Tom Hardy (who was quite wonderful in The Virgin Queen), blusters around this adaptation with a riding crop and a bad case of Overactingitis (so many itises in this adaptation!). I have yet to see an adaptation (except for Lawrence Olivier), in which Heathcliff is properly presented as not just a jerk, but a cunning jerk whose idea of revenge is a bit more complicated than simply locking Cathy’s Catherine inside Wuthering Heights with two dumb schmucks (Linton and Hareton, respectively).

“Is this how you take your revenge?” Nellie demands when she confronts him about his nefarious plot. She forgets to add: “Lamely, with bad hair?”

But Heathcliff doesn’t just have revenge on his mind! Oh no, no, no! A few scenes later he’s robbing graves Dickens style. Specifically Cathy’s grave. So he can break open her coffin, lie on top of her, and caress her skull face. If you ever wanted to know what it would be like if Hamlet made out with a skull, this is your chance.

Necrophilia: Hip AND Sexual

Necrophilia: Hip AND Sexual

Heathcliff comes back from his walk of shame after a night of skull fu–fondling to be stricken with flashbakitis. Dirty, raggedy Heathcliff recalls a simpler time when he was a dirty, raggedy child (just so you know, his previous flashback was in a field with Cathy, rolling around like they were in a perfume commercial). Time passes by the depth of his scowls, and soon he is old enough to manage to scowl AND skulk in his own little alley while Cathy flits around and pisses him off to no end.

Then other things happen. Such as Heathcliff acting like a jerk and Cathy acting like a brat. They do that a few times, breaking up the monotony, by running off to the moor and admiring blades of grass (while also filming for their new body lotion DESPERATION). They then come back to Wuthering Heights and make everyone else miserable.

Sound familiar? That’s because this (Wuthering Heights, 1939) has (Wuthering Heights, 1953) been (Abismos De Pasion, 1954) done (Wuthering Heights, 1967) before (Wuthering Heights, 1970). Repeat: this (Wuthering Heights, 1978) has (Hurlevent 1985) been (Onimaru, 1988) done (1991, Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit) before (Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, 1992). Please (Wuthering Heights, 1999) stop (Sparkhouse, 2002), for (Wuthering Heights, 2003) the (Cime Tempestose, 2004) love (The Promise, 2007) of (Wuthering Heights, 2010) God.

You can change the title, you can put it in another language, you can make the characters sing horribly or switch their genders, or remove a narrator or add a narrator or change the timeline or change THE DECADE. It is STILL Wuthering Heights and it is still the story of two horrible selfish people who are in love and the people who enable them.

Eileen: But you know what the worst part of this version is?
Genevieve: All of it?

Yeah, I think we’re done here.

(Be sure to come back next month when Eileen reviews “Wuthering Heights on Ice!”)


Tom Hardy is famous now. There’s hope for you yet!

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