I made it through four years of undergrad as an English major without reading a lick of material by the Brontë sisters. I've also never read a Jane Austen novel and I somehow managed to escape taking a single class on Shakespeare. The first and only time I ever read Charles Dickens was as a freshman in high school and I think that "read" is a very, very generous word. This isn't necessarily something I'm proud of but I find it kind-of amusing that I managed to dodge some of the more "typical" works in the English literature canon.
So when I watched the 2009 television serial version of Wuthering Heights, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I knew it was supposed to be moody and melodramatic and atmospheric and I knew there was a guy named Heathcliff in it but the only Heathcliff I'm familiar with is of the feline variety. There was also this Monty Python sketch where they were waving flags at each other or something? Look, all I knew was that there was some brooding guy and some cliffs or something.
I watched T. Hard's version on a recent family vacation to Toronto. The trip up there was littered with pit stops that catered more to my brothers' interests than mine and for the most part I found myself sitting in the van or a hotel room waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting for the day to end so that we might be one day closer to something that was just remotely more interesting. How convenient that my budding Tom Hardy obsession should coincide with all of this sitting-around-doing-nothing! Per a recommendation from a friend, fellow English major, and Tom Hardy enthusiast, I downloaded Wuthering Heights before my trip and whew! Am I forever grateful! This thing was a hoot!
I thought the entire thing was outright ridiculous. Overacted, melodramatic, absolutely bizarre. And I couldn't stop watching it. I couldn't stop laughing. Guttural guffaws. The ugly typography used for the opening credits imposed over shots of the ground leading up to an unimpressive-looking dilapidated manor with overdramatic instrumental music playing in the background confirmed the obvious: this was definitely made for television. We first see Heathcliff lying on the bed, moaning about something, and then he abruptly jerks out of bed and makes this face:
|Ghost sex dreams! Quelle horreur!|
The movie then jumps to a scene with Rick from the Walking Dead with mutton chops speaking in a British accent (I mean I guess it's his normal accent because he's from England but throughout the entire film I was waiting for that Southern twang to come out). And then there's a bunch of teens being angsty. And then the teen girl runs away on her birthday and who does she stumble upon while looking for eggs but Mr. Handsome himself.
|[insert quote about being the moors' reckoning or somesuch]|
She goes back to Wuthering Heights with Heathcliff and finds two male teens and I witnessed some of the finest moments in horrible, overwraught teen acting in a British serialized drama adaptation. "I AM EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD, AND I AM DYING!" a mere wisp of a teen emotes. "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU!" I yell at my computer.
Some stuff happens and then all of the sudden Heathcliff is digging into a grave and practically making out with a corpse. Y'all, I can't make this stuff up. And it made no sense to me w h a t s o e v e r. We then go back in time when Heathcliff was a child but these parts really aren't interesting because now it's overdramatic CHILD actors and it's not Tom Hardy so o b v i o u s l y I am not interested. Basically Heathcliff was adopted by some rich fart and his blood children have feelings about letting an adopted child into the family, especially since he might be a -gasp!- gypsy (I should have done a count to see how many times they insinuated Heathcliff was a gypsy). How foolish of them to discount him so quickly, don't they know he's going to grow up to be Tom Hardy???
|Revenge is a dish best served smoldering.|
Hindley, the brother, loathes Heathcliff. We know this because the boy who plays Hindley seems to have forgotten he's acting on television and not in his local community theatre. Cathy takes a liking to Heathcliff and they just want to do rugrat things together, like throw stones in the pond outside of the church on Sunday like the little heathens they are. Thanks to the magic of transitions in film, Cathy and Heathcliff grow up (physically, not emotionally) before our very eyes and what do you know! Two attractive people who have formed tight-knit bonds only with each other over the span of several years have seemingly fallen in love! Even though they're not technically related, there's still a certain ick factor when you watch the two call each other "my love" and get thisclose to kissing while they're frolicking in the moors.
One day their frolicking goes too far and they're caught spying on Rick Grimes and his bug-eyed sister. Rick sics his dog on the twosome and it attacks Cathy's leg. Obviously the only course of action at this point is for Rick to pick Cathy up and insist that she stay at his house for five weeks to recover. Because it's not like that's kind-of, sort-of kidnapping and it's not like she has a home to go back to and people who genuinely care about her. Not at all. So Cathy is some sort of hostage for five weeks and when she comes back to Wuthering Heights she is hot to trot and super stuck up. Now Cathy is tormented between marrying the obviously very attractive Tom Hardy or the apparently wealthy Rick Grimes. Is this even difficult? Do you really need to take more than a second to decide?
|I mean he's going to try to fornicate with your corpse regardless so either way you can't lose.|
Cathy's got it twisted. She chooses that pasty dude who couldn't grow a decent pair of mutton chops if he glued them to his face. Heathcliff can't deal with the repercussions of her actions and runs away for three years but when he comes back, he's lookin' foooooooyne! The rest of the movie is more or less Heathcliff destroying everyone around him and it more or less rules.
|By all means, good sir, relent away!|
|Garfield ain't the only orange cat who hates Mondays|
Let me just say that I was thoroughly entertained and almost, just almost forgot that I had been sitting in a parked car for almost two hours. I had no plans on actually reading the book (at least not in the near future) but then I started this blog and I felt like maybe I should have a better understanding of the source material before I start ripping into it full blast.
After watching the movie the first time, I thought I could sort-of understand why people would like the book so much because it has that whole star-crossed lovers "they could be together but they can't!" hopeless romantic thing going for it. Not necessarily my cup of tea but I guess that's the kind of stuff love-lorn angsty teen girls eat for breakfast. So I could buy Heathcliff as a gothic romantic hero (I don't even know if he would even be considered a gothic romantic hero, please forgive me Professor Benis I mean your class was interesting and all but Romanticism and gothic literature just ain't my thing) and I found him attractive during the middle part of the film where he cut his hair and stopped wearing horse blankets. But like, have you read the book? DUDE, Heathcliff is a TOTAL bunghole on Miss Havisham levels. And in reading the book a month later, every time Heathcliff was mentioned in the text all I could think of was this face:
|You really need to start figuring out what your more flattering angles are there, Heathcliff.|