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The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights

Musings

This page is for all those notes and articles which do not fit into the other pages. It could be considered my own blog and many of these thoughts will be my opinion rather than objective comments on the novel. I hope you find them interesting.

The New Responsive Design

April 2015.

Today, 23rd April (rather aptly St George's Day and Shakespeare's traditional birthday) the new responsive design went live. (Apologies to those who were browsing at the time but it's quicker and better than taking the site offline temporarily.) A responsive design is a website that adjusts its display to the size of the user's screen so that, for instance, there may be three columns on laptops, two columns on tablets and a single column on phones. Previously, I had three layouts for the different devices but they were determined by what the PHP code thought the device was rather than being fully responsive.

A responsive design involves some compromises. Before, I had different sized images and the PHP code would insert the appropriate image at the time; now I have to have one image which adjusts to fit the screen. But, because new mobile devices are coming out every week with different screen sizes, responsive design is the best way to go. It also means that you can switch from portrait to landscape and the display will change, often giving you a better view. Previously, if you were on a phone, you would get the view which would fit a phone's smallest width, irrespective of whether it was portrait or landscape.


Searching for the Perfect Catherine

January 2008.

Having now watched my fifth version of Wuthering Heights (the 1978 Hutchison and Adshead version), I set to wondering why none of the actresses who played Catherine (the elder) quite worked for me. The answer came to me as I looked at the timeline of the novel and I think it boils down to their ages.

If we look at five of the best-known versions and compare the approximate ages of the actresses at the time, we get:

Film Actress Age
1939 Merle Oberon 28
1970 Anna Calder-Marshall 23
1978 Kay Adshead 24
1992 Juliette Binoche 28
1998 Orla Brady 37

In the book, Catherine is 15 when Heathcliff runs away and just 18 when she dies. Even the youngest of the actresses is five years older and the oldest is more than twice the age! (although, admittedly, Orla Brady looked much younger). However, each of the actresses appears clearly adult, not the teenager that Catherine was. We should also remember that an 18-year-old was not the adult they are considered today: a person was not considered to 'come of age' until 21.

Kate BushIf you think of Catherine as a slightly immature teenager rather than an adult, it brings a whole new aspect to the story. Her spitefulness towards Isabella, the "dashing her head against the arm of the sofa", her attempts to make herself ill: these become more believable if we imagine a younger teenager performing them. There is also a deeper pathos to the scene in chapter 12 where Catherine in her delirium wishes she were back in Wuthering Heights. If we think of her as a child then rather than a spoilt adult, we can have more sympathy for her. We could feel the loneliness and sadness of a child forced into an adult's world.

It would be fascinating to see a version of Wuthering Heights with Catherine played by a teenage actress (or one who could pass as teenage). It would be rather like seeing Juliet of Romeo and Juliet played as the thirteen year old she was supposed to be. It would need an actress of great skill and subtlety, of course, able to switch from mature love to childish petulance, but what a role. And what a new interest it would add to the scenes with Heathcliff.

(As an afterthought, looking at those rumours of Angelina Jolie being lined up to play Catherine, her age this year will be 33 – not a good omen.)


Note: if you're interested, the ages for the 2009 and 2011 Catherines are shown below. The article was written before these two versions appeared and has not been updated.

Film Actress Age
2009 Charlotte Riley 27
2011 Kaya Scodelari 19

Tracking down “the Grange” and “the Heights”

March 2008.

It has long been a pastime for fans and researchers of Wuthering Heights to try and determine the inspirations for the buildings of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Tradition has it that the farm of Top Withens is the former and Ponden Hall is the latter, but both of these sources are unsuitable. Top Withens is far too small for the grand farmhouse of the book; it's barely large enough to act as the stables. Its location, however, may have acted as the source for the wind-blown, isolated dwelling. Ponden Hall is also inappropriate for that of Thrushcross Grange. The Grange is a grand house with many rooms and servants, sitting in a large park and having a courtyard surrounded by a high wall. A glance at the photographs of Ponden Hall leaves one searching for the similarities.

A noticeable thing about Emily's descriptions of the two houses is how they differ in extent. Wuthering Heights is described in great detail, both in the external and internal appearances, and in the layout of the rooms. It is why it was relatively easy for me to construct the floor plans of the house. The Grange, on the other hand, is only cursorily described. We know virtually nothing about its exterior layout or appearance, except for "…the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the building". Some interior rooms are mentioned but without going into detail apart from Heathcliff's description of the drawing room in chapter 6. Why the difference? Did Emily simply not care about Thrushcross Grange and only describe what she had to? The deep detail that she goes into for the novel (see the timeline and the legal aspects) does not suggest such a slapdash habit.

It seems to me much more likely that she wrote in detail about Wuthering Heights because she had a model in her head, a building that she knew well (and for which she was able to construct a floor plan). In comparison, she wrote little about the appearance of Thrushcross Grange because there was no single example, no well-known grand building that she could use. It was an amalgam of her imagination and assorted reminiscences.

Which buildings might be the choice for Wuthering Heights then? There are only a few that Emily Brontë knew well in her life, buildings that she lived in for some time. There was the Parsonage, of course, and also Roe Head (when she was aged 17), Law Hill (20) and the Pensionnat Héger in Brussels (23–24). She would also have known Ponden Hall well, not from living there but from visits. The two locations of Thornton and Cowan Bridge can be excluded: she was young at the time and probably would not remember enough to describe them in detail when writing the novel at the age of 27.

The Parsonage can quickly be eliminated apart from a few minor details such as Joseph's fruit bushes which were also grown and loved by the Brontës. A symmetric Georgian village town-house built in 1799 is a world away from a storm-racked farmhouse with narrow windows dating from 1500, even without examining the interior layout. Roe Head, Law Hill and the Pensionnat Héger may also be disposed of for at least two reasons: they were all schools so unlikely to be similar to a farmhouse in appearance and layout, and they belonged to Emily's past. That meant that she only had memories, three to ten years old, left to reconstruct the setting. As a student or lowly teacher, she would not have known much of the layout and details of the buildings.

But there is one building which remains very suitable as the model for the ancestral home of the Earnshaws. It was a building that Emily could have visited whenever she was walking the moors; it was a building that she probably knew the interior of in detail; it was a farmhouse (or certainly resembled one); it was the home of a respected and old family: it was Ponden Hall.

When I created the 3D model for Wuthering Heights that is shown on that page, I had only seen Ponden Hall briefly some years before. It was not in my head. Rather I created it from the descriptions in the book and research into Yorkshire farmhouses. Later, when I visited Ponden and learned more of it from the owners, I realised that it is not that far away from my model. Both floor plans show a large main room (the 'house') and a kitchen added as a wing at the rear. Admittedly, the Ponden Hall entrance opens into a hallway rather than the 'house', and that room does not rise through two floors. On the other hand, the approach to Wuthering Heights in my plan is from the right with the lane passing by the entrance and a path leading of it, as Ponden Hall did before the reservoir was constructed (see the map here).

In the end though, I don't believe that Emily used Ponden Hall totally as the model for Wuthering Heights, there are too many inconsistencies between the described layout and Ponden's. Considering the detail she goes into, I suspect she created a floor plan for the farmhouse which she consulted as she wrote; thinking about the maps and elaborate background that she went into with her Gondal stories, I would expect it. I suspect it was loosely based on Ponden Hall as the only suitable building that she knew well enough but other elements such as the two-storey main room, and the elaborate porch (from High Sunderland?) were added to the initial layout.

As for Thrushcross Grange, my view is that she had seen Shibden Hall before, either in pictures or a personal visit, and this was the sort of house she was thinking of. She did not know the Hall well enough to construct a detailed floor plan which is why the Grange is only vaguely described in the book.

Unfortunately, as with so much about Emily and Wuthering Heights, we shall probably never know the truth.


Hair Colour in Wuthering Heights

June 2009

One of the (many) things that annoyed me about the 2009 version of Wuthering Heights (see below) was when Cathy Linton first comes onto screen. There I was, expecting to see the familiar "golden curls hanging loose on her delicate neck", the feature that makes her so distinct from her mother, and what appeared — Rebecca Night, all brown hair with a hint of curls. And it didn't stop there. Edgar and Isabella are both described as having fair or blonde hair and yet, once more we find two actors with dark hair in place (although Edgar is oddly fair-haired as a boy).

Why do film makers do this? The hair can easily be dyed or a wig added so it can't be because of production difficulties. Either the researchers have not done their job, or the film makers do not consider the hair colour important (which shows their lack of knowledge of the book). Having Juliette Binoche, fine actress as she is, play both Catherines in the 1992 movie was not a good choice but at least they got the hair right and it made the two characters distinct.

The thing is that the colour of characters' hair is not just a minor point in the novel. Just compare the figures with fair hair (and skin) with those with dark:

Dark-haired Fair-haired
Heathcliff, Catherine, Hindley, Hareton Edgar, Isabella, Cathy, Linton

(Hindley's hair colour is not actually described although, with his sister and son both being dark, it is likely that he would be as well.)

Surely it is no coincidence that Emily Brontë uses hair colour to show the differences in the characters. Dark-haired figures are rough, tough, outdoor loving, and middle- or lower-class; the fair-haired are weak, genteel, indoor loving and upper-class. And this is where Cathy comes in. She is from the Earnshaws but she has more of the characteristics of her father than her mother (although she has Catherine's selfishness and spitefulness at first, she eventually succumbs to Edgar's gentleness and kindness). The contrast between the two sets is important, even more so in a visual medium. Catherine chooses between the dark Heathcliff and the fair Edgar; Isabella gives up the light side of her family for the dark mystery of Heathcliff; Linton has more of Isabella's fair characteristics than Heathcliff's dark. And just as a marriage of dark Catherine and light Edgar produces the mixture of Cathy, so hopefully the melding of dark Hareton and light Cathy will combine the best of both.

There is no excuse why film makers cannot get small but important details like these right. There is no benefit to doing it differently. Emily took care over her novel; the producers owe her the same respect.


My Review of the 2009 TV Movie

June 2009

Heathcliff and Catherine

It seems bizarre that a TV movie that was created in Britain has taken so long to reach here. At the time of this review, it still hasn't been shown on TV but I have managed to watch it elsewhere and can now add it to my TV/movie page. Mind you, I don't think I was missing much. [It was finally shown on August Bank Holiday.]

Naturally all adaptations have to take certain liberties with the original book, especially with sections that don't work so well in visual media. But it is when large and important sections are removed completely, or additions made which do not fit the story, that I get annoyed. And this version has plenty of both.

The problems start right from the beginning. The novel opens with that intriguing situation of a stranger (Lockwood, acting as the reader) arriving at an isolated farmhouse to meet a strange and hostile family. There follows the encounter with a ghost at the window and we are plunged deep into the mystery: who are the family, who is the ghost and how did they get to this position?

This movie though drops this iconic opening completely. We begin about three-quarters of the way through the book, deep into the second generation. It was confusing for me, someone who knows the story inside out, so what it must be like for a newcomer to Wuthering Heights, I can only imagine.

Dropping Lockwood is one thing, but to remove the single most iconic moment in the story — Catherine's ghost at the window — is unforgivable. Would you make Oliver Twist without the scene of the orphan asking for more? Could a performance of Julius Caesar be acceptable without the stabbing of the central character? Then why cut this? The ghost deepens the mystery and plants the seed of the supernatural which is essential to Heathcliff's story. It turns a dark puzzle of revenge and infatuation into a simple love story.

The errors pile up. Heathcliff digs down to and lies with Catherine's skeleton — except that in the book that occurs on the evening of her funeral and he never actually sees her body (see FAQ). The dates of her life on Catherine's grave are moved forward to another century and her age lengthened by seven years. Catherine also seems to show little sign of the spitefulness and selfishness in her character. Then Heathcliff kills Hindley — except in the book it is left as a subtle suggestion so we are left wondering.

Of course, Heathcliff famously flees Wuthering Heights after he overhears Catherine saying that it would degrade her to marry him … except not in this version. Here he rides off without hearing a word of the speech which removes all the passion and drama from the moment. The speech seems to be dropped in casually just so they can say it was there. What should be the crowning moment of the first part of the story becomes an afterthought.

Drama and excitement seem to be anathema to the makers as even Heathcliff's theatrical reappearance outside Thrushcross Grange is also weakened, instead wandering casually into Hindley's drinking den as if he'd never been away. One area where they added a more dramatic moment was in Heathcliff's death, from suicide with a pistol instead of wasting away from hunger. But even this turns out to weaken the story: in the book, Heathcliff spends his life plotting revenge on the Earnshaws and Lintons but abandons it when he has it in his hands because of his infatuation with Catherine's presence. The gradual decline and death make the long-planned revenge seem pointless and Cathy and Heathcliff's romance a hopeful counterbalance.

Ages are often a problem in Wuthering Heights adaptations. Heathcliff ages from seven to 37 over the book and many of the most important scenes occur when he is a teenager. Few movies show a distinctly different character over the period — usually having a child for the earliest scenes with the main actor trying to portray everything from teenage to early middle age. It rarely works. And Catherine dies at the age of eighteen, again being a young teenager for the most important scenes. Both characters are usually too old for the love scenes occurring before Heathcliff's disappearance. What should be a childlike love between siblings becomes a tempestuous sexual love between young adults. As far as this adaptation is concerned, both Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley were in their late twenties during the making of the film which make them far too old for the novel. It is hardly necessary to point out that Ellen Dean, who should age from 14 to 45, must have a portrait in her attic for she never changes.

Location-wise, the building used for the Wuthering Heights farmhouse is a poor choice. I emphasise farmhouse because that is not the impression one would get from the movie where it resembles a gothic mansion perched upon a hill with no hint of animals or farmwork. Again the distinction between the Heights and the Grange is lost, in the same way as the errors in hair colour dilute the differences in the Earnshaws and Lintons (see above). In fact, someone watching this movie without ever reading the book would have no idea that the Earnshaws were just farmers and not gentry like the Lintons.

Of course, all movie and TV adaptations have to make changes to the written work but these should not alter the essential story. Having Frances die at childbirth instead of a few months later is convenient and retains the elements that she was weak and the childbirth probably weakened her. But there is no benefit from changing Heathcliff's death from wasting to shooting, and it actually alters the mood of the story. Giving Cathy dark hair instead of blonde is just sloppy and weakens the distinctions between her and the Earnshaws. All these add up to a major disappointment for me and this version ends up low on my recommendation list.

Instead of getting closer to Emily's work, this version moves further away. I can only hope that one day some director who really loves the book and has the courage to ignore the assumptions and return to the proper story will be given the chance.

Afterthought: don't get the impression from the above that this is not a good movie. The photography and acting, for instance, are fine, and if you don't know the book that well or are not interested in accuracy, you'll probably enjoy it. But as a fan of Wuthering Heights, I can only be disappointed.


How to Make the Perfect Wuthering Heights Movie (in my opinion)

June 2009

I have now watched six different versions of Wuthering Heights and they have all disappointed me to different extents. So I got to thinking what would I like to see in the perfect movie version of the book? Well here are my thoughts below.

The key to making the perfect Wuthering Heights, I think, is to realise that it is not simply another love story like Romeo and Juliet. Yes, there are romances involved — in fact five in total (Catherine/Heathcliff; Catherine/Edgar; Isabella/Heathcliff; Cathy/Linton; Cathy/Hareton —and that is ignoring Frances and Hindley). Of these, I find Cathy and Hareton's even more interesting than the famous Catherine and Heathcliff since the two lovers start off hating each other and end deeply in love. But the problem with movie directors and writers is that they only really focus on the Catherine/Heathcliff relationship. Because they think of it as a standard love affair, they have to make the characters older to allow a sexual love to occur, and the second generation is often added as an afterthought (or left out altogether).

What they fail to realise is that Wuthering Heights is really a story of revenge. It is the story of Heathcliff who rises as Mr Earnshaw's favourite, then falls under Hindley, loses the love of his life to another man, runs away to better himself, and then spends the rest of the book plotting his vengeance on the two families who (in his mind) mistreated him. If you think of that as the theme, then the story takes a completely different turn.

Lockwood is, despite some adaptors' views, essential. He is the stranger, the asker of questions; he is the reader/viewer in the story. He plunges into the situation and sets up the puzzle: who is this strange family? Why are they living in this wild, dark location when they have the sumptuous Thrushcross Grange available? What is the relationship between the gypsy-like landlord, the inhospitable niece and the nephew who looks like a servant? And it is he who sleeps in the abandoned bedroom with its graffiti and dreams, he who encounters the iconic ghost at the window.

All of these things create the themes of Wuthering Heights: the wild setting, the mystery, the infatuation for a long-lost love, the hatred Heathcliff bears, Cathy and Hareton's relationship, and the underlying supernatural. Lockwood takes us right into the story and we are left to discover it with him.

A vital element to the next part is to get the ages right. Ellen is rarely shown as the young teenager she was when Heathcliff arrives with Mr Earnshaw. If she ages with the characters, you realise that she becomes almost a sister to Hindley, Heathcliff and Catherine, and therefore her friendship with them more relevant. There is also the different relationships with the two Catherines: to the first, she is a virtual sister, to the second a virtual mother. In fact, she really is a replacement mother to Cathy who never knew her own.

When Heathcliff first arrives, he is about seven, Catherine six and Hindley fourteen. Getting the ages correct here is important to show why Catherine is more attracted to Heathcliff than to her own brother (considering that she didn't like him initially), and why their relationship is more like those of twins. It explains why Hindley can bully Heathcliff and why Mr Earnshaw might prefer the latter to his own son (more vulnerable, less boisterous). It is here and over the next six years (until Mr Earnshaw dies) that we see Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship develop. Using older actors, most directors look upon it as a straightforward (if intense) sexual love affair. But if we think of them growing from six/seven to twelve/thirteen, we get a very different perspective. We should see them playing together, eating together, reading, hiding, sleeping (non-sexually, of course). We should get the impression that they are lonely and bored when away from each other. We would then truly understand when Catherine says "I am Heathcliff". A twin saying "I am that other person" has more meaning than a lover saying it. And when Catherine chooses Edgar over Heathcliff, we would realise why he was so distressed that he ran away — not because she was marrying someone else, but because she was breaking the twinship that they had had for seven years.

Catherine is twelve when she stays at Thrushcross Grange for the first time and fifteen when Edgar proposes (and Heathcliff leaves). When you are aware of this and not thinking of the late teens/early twenties that the films show, you can understand better the events of the story. To a twelve year old, the luxury and opulence of the Grange would be irresistible. Despite her devotion to Heathcliff, the chance to wear fine dresses and be waited upon by servants (you can not imagine Ellen bringing Catherine meals like a maid) would banish any initial distress at being parted from her friend. When she returns, Heathcliff feels she has changed although, to her, she has just seen a different world. She was probably expecting him to change his appearance and attitude to this new world, and this is where they begin to grow apart. Heathcliff's desire for revenge had already begun with Hindley's treatment of him. Now he sees the Lintons taking Catherine from him and his vengeance spreads to include them.

Another thing which movies usually ignore is Frances. Yes, she is a minor character but it is important that she is weak and insubstantial. When she dies so soon after arriving, we can see the seed of Hindley's disintegration. He has lost two relatives to Heathcliff – his sister and his father (the latter both spiritually and literally), now he loses the only thing he loves. Thus we understand why he starts drinking and gambling, and also why he doesn't seem to have much interest in Hareton.

One of the problems for directors here though is to find young actors who can play Catherine and Heathcliff as young teenagers. Mind you, the fact that they have to show the love of brother and sister rather than that of lovers would probably be easier. But there are fine young actors around and the timeline could be compressed slightly (Catherine's first visit to the Grange could be at thirteen or fourteen years of age without compromising the story). After Heathcliff leaves, the story jumps forward three years so then we could bring in the older actors although, with a thirteen-year gap between Hindley's death (the end of the first generation story) and Cathy's meeting with Hareton (the start of the second), the director might need to juggle the actors a little. When Heathcliff returns, if we used the same young actress for Catherine and the older actor for Heathcliff, it would be an interesting juxtaposition, emphasising her immaturity and showing how he had developed and grown. Actually, now that I think of it, I would love to see that scene as the childlike Cathy rushes into the adult Heathcliff's arms. How that would change our views on the story.

The character of Isabella is often overlooked (as well as being given incorrectly dark hair). She is entranced by Heathcliff and marries him because of her romantic view of him. Again she is only eighteen at that time so we would need to show her immaturity. It is not uncommon these days to hear of women who remain with unpleasant men who mistreat them, and it would be fascinating to see the story from her point, from a young woman who has lived a pampered and unexciting life.

So Catherine dies and Cathy is born, and the story moves forward thirteen years. The three young characters of Cathy, Linton and Hareton are key to this section with the brooding presence of Heathcliff. There is a three year gap between Cathy's first meeting with Hareton and the arrival of Linton, and the next meeting with Linton on Cathy's sixteenth but this could easily be compressed together. But the ages are again important with Cathy 16—18 over the period, Linton 15—17 and Hareton 21—23, basically young people compared with Heathcliff in his late 30s. A key point though is that the young Cathy would appear childlike and quite naive, having been brought up isolated at the Grange. After she suffers the horrors of imprisonment, forced marriage, the loss of her father and separation from Ellen, her surrogate mother, she would age noticeably, her playfulness and gaiety quashed. Then, as her friendship with Hareton blossoms, those characteristics of her childhood return. It's a fascinating study of character change and development, and the vital part of this section. We see Cathy first through Lockwood as the miserable, hostile housekeeper of the Heights so we are intrigued as to how the carefree child of 16 becomes that. It's also important that Cathy resembles Edgar Linton here with her fair skin and blonde hair so that can understand Heathcliff's desire for revenge. Initially she does not resemble her mother apart from the eyes but, towards the end, Heathcliff comes to see Catherine in her. Careful special effects could blend her face with Catherine's briefly.

It is important that Heathcliff's death occurs as in the novel, not as in the 2009 film. He did not actively commit suicide but found his life draining of purpose and direction. We need to show him growing thinner and more abstracted. The defining purpose of the later part of his life, his desire for revenge on the Earnshaws and Lintons, is replaced by a desire to be reunited with Catherine.


Sammy SheikAnd what actors would I pick for the cast? I can't think of specific actors but, for Heathcliff, I would be tempted to pick somebody with a naturally dark skin and a sort of gypsy look (that is, to English people). He wasn't black (see FAQ) but he was almost certainly foreign-looking and it would be interesting to have somebody who didn't have a Northern European appearance. Glancing through the Internet, I found an image of Sammy Sheik, an Arab actor (left). Imagine him with wild hair and whiskers and you get a feeling of what it might be like to look outside the usual Hollywood or UK stars. You would also need to find a teenage actor who resembled him enough to pass for the same person.

Catherine, being a teenager would probably have be played by an unknown actress, someone who can look entrancing and dominating, but also stroppy and childish. A difficult task and probably one of the key casting choices. Of course, she has to be stunningly attractive as does her daughter. For me, I thought Sarah Smart from the 1998 drama seemed an ideal Cathy. She was about 20 at the time but looked younger and was certainly capable of charming Hareton off his feet!

The other characters are less important to me as long as they get the appearances correct. Emily describes them in the book so just read it. But it is essential to get Catherine, Heathcliff and Cathy right, and to make sure the other characters either complement or contrast them.

So any directors out there who want to make a period drama which would be a really new take on Wuthering Heights (and not displease the real book lovers), just give me a call!


My Review of the 2011 Movie

February 2012

When I first heard about this version, I was hopeful. A teenage Catherine, a non-white Heathcliff … has a director at last actually read the novel? Sadly, I was to be disappointed once again. In fact, in my opinion, it's turned out to be one of the worst versions of Emily's work.

The film seems to want create a modern-day Wuthering Heights, maybe something suitable for today's generation, but it results in something which is no longer the original work. It begins badly, with a modern, unsuitable typeface (something which, as a graphic designer, I am well aware of) and ends even worse with a piece of contemporary music that is completely incongruous with the period. In between, there is the hackneyed shaky hand-held camera which is meant to be exciting and dramatic but just becomes annoying. Then, worst of all, is the mangling of much of Emily's beautiful dialogue to be replaced by modern slang and swear words. Maybe the use of such language is meant to reproduce the kind of shock that eighteenth century cursing would have felt like to nineteenth century readers. It doesn't. It just wrenches you out of the historical ambience and brutally reminds you that this is the twenty-first century and you are just watching a film.

For all the hopes of accuracy which a teenage Catherine and non-white Heathcliff promised, this version turns out to be as erroneous as the worst of the others. The characters bear little resemblance to the originals: Hindley's “masses of shaggy hair” are shaven, Ellen has lost her stoutness, Edgar's fair skin and blond hair are transformed, and the thin and frail Frances seems quite hearty. Ages are as bungled as ever: there is a thirteen year difference between Heathcliff's arrival and Catherine's death, yet neither Hindley nor Ellen (both aging from about 14 to 27) seem to change. And finally,the vital character of Lockwood is dropped and, with him, the essential ghost at the window.

How far can an adaptation be allowed to stray from the original before it can no longer be considered an adaptation, but rather 'based on' or 'inspired by'. My page of famous quotes features many pieces of dialogue; if you remove most of all of a book's dialogue from a film, is it still the book? Can you have a Shakespeare adaptation without the language?

To me, the 1939 adaptation has too many changes to be considered 'Wuthering Heights'; rather it should be termed 'based upon Wuthering Heights'. And the same goes for this version. When you remove the iconic ghost at the window, most of the well-known speeches, and the actual revenge portion of the novel with the younger generation – Linton, Cathy, Hareton – Cathy's imprisonment, the hate-to-love relationship with Cathy and Hareton – can you really say that you have Wuthering Heights any longer? Without the second generation, the original story of love and revenge just becomes one of love, the vital misunderstanding that so many versions make.

This is a film I actually had to force myself to watch; if I wasn't watching it to review it for this site, I would have given up before I reached halfway. The multiple inaccuracies, poor camerawork, amateur acting, dreadful script, and unnecessary focus on animal death and cruelty, made this a two-hour ordeal and not something I will willingly sit through again.

We still await an accurate and definitive Wuthering Heights. Some say it can never be made, but the same was said about The Lord of the Rings. It just needs a long enough running time, someone to read and understand the book, and the patience to find the right actors. Directors – I am still here