Sneak Preview: WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Andrea Arnold, 2011)

Event Date: April 3, 2012 - 7:30pm

Location: The James Bridges Theater, Melnitz Hall 1409, UCLA

No starched lace, no panoramic views, no sweeping score — Andrea Arnold takes Emily Brontë’s classic novel and strips it to the root of youthful passion, restoring its stark power for a contemporary audience. Following her bracing portraits of female desire in RED ROAD and FISH TANK, Arnold pushes even further here, portraying love as a rush of heart-stopping beauty, cruelty and impulsive acts.

In a remote farmhouse on Yorkshire’s nineteenth-century moors, Mr. Earnshaw brings home a wary biracial boy, whom he names Heathcliff. Adopted into the family under Christian values, Heathcliff’s new presence is met with mixed feelings. Hindley, Earnshaw’s teenaged son, treats him with contempt, while Catherine, Hindley’s younger sister, embraces the outsider with curious warmth. An intense relationship begins to form between Heathcliff and Catherine as they play on the moor. Their pleasant days are brought to an abrupt end, however, with Mr. Earnshaw’s death. Hindley takes control of the farm and drives Heathcliff away. Edgar, the son of a wealthy neighboring family, courts Catherine in marriage. Torn between love and reason, Catherine’s decision sets the three of them on a tragic course.

Avoiding the typical pleasantries of period romance, Arnold’s Wuthering Heights uses natural sounds in place of a score, emphasizing the rhythms of wind, voices and silence. Arnold places Catherine and Heathcliff within a specific and sometimes harsh environment; the effect is to bring Brontë’s characters closer to nature. Handheld camera work captures every look and touch exchanged between the passionate young lovers, swaying and darting into the wet black mud one minute, carried aloft with a bird the next.

Official Selection, Venice International Film Festival
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, BFI London Film Festival
Official Selection, Stockholm International Film Festival
Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival

“The real, unpretty toughness of the Yorkshire moor has perhaps never been represented more matter-of-factly, nor the hardscrabble existence of those who might have really lived in that farmhouse in the 19th century. This world is elemental, almost primeval, and the gap between human and beast is narrowed… The film gave me something I never expect to get from any classic literary adaptation: the shock of the new.” –Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“There’s something satisfyingly jolting about the way Arnold makes Brontë her own... Forget Kate Bush’s flailing gothic fancies – Arnold’s lit-pic embraces the novel’s rough-hewn core and emotional cataclysms head on.” –Kevin Harley, Total Film

“Most literary adaptations, trying to turn the real world epic, render it in the cliché visions and tones of films we've seen before. Arnold's "Wuthering Heights" finds the epic in the real.” –James Rocchi, The Hit List

“Raw, painful and brutally wind-swept, Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is a beautiful contemporary piece. Rarely before has a period tale felt so modern.” - Ivan Radford, I-Flicks.Net

DIRECTOR: Andrea Arnold
WRITERS: Andrea Arnold & Olivia Hetreed (screenplay), Emily Brontë (novel)
STARRING: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Oliver Milburn, Nichola Burley, Eve Coverley, James Northcote, Lee Shaw, Amy Wren
Oscilloscope Laboratories
35mm, 129 min.

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