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Film / Wuthering Heights

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The 1847 novel Wuthering Heights been adapted for the screen many times:

The adaptations provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Edgar is blond in the novel, but is played by dark-haired actors David Niven in the 1939 version and Andrew Lincoln in the 2009 version.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Hindley is much more sympathetic in the 1970 version than in most other versions. Instead of being oppressive of Heathcliff, he is in turn opposed by Mr. Earnshaw and lives in Heathcliff's shadow. He's also able to pull himself out of his hedonistic stage after his wife's death unlike in the novel.
    • The 2009 version of Linton doesn't get up to as much of the Domestic Abuse actions as he does in the novel.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Mr. Lockwood in the 1970 and 2009 adaptations. The former only tells the first half of the book, while Catherine (II) is told the story by Nelly in the latter.
    • The second half of the novel tends to be left out of earlier adaptations, such as the 1939 adaptation. This means such important characters as Catherine's daughter Cathy, Linton, and Hareton make no appearances.
  • Age Lift: Catherine (I) is 25 instead of 19 when she dies in the 2009 version, judging by the dates on her gravestone.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Heathcliff forces Catherine (II) to marry his son Linton, so he can get her inheritance.
    Heathcliff (2009): By this time tomorrow, I shall be your father. So you had better get used to appeasing me.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Heathcliff in the 2009 version commits suicide this way, instead of his more mysterious death in the novel.
  • Composite Character: Cathy (II) takes Lockwood's place in the 2009 version as the person who learns about Heathcliff from Nelly.
  • Death by Adaptation: Type II (the character dies in the source material, but sooner in the adaptation): Heathcliff is shot and killed by Hindley shortly after Cathy's (I) death in the 1970 film.
  • Demoted to Extra: Joseph plays little part in the events of the 2009 version.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Several adaptations, particularly the ones that only adapt the first half, change both Heathcliff and Cathy (I)'s causes of death.
    • The 1939 film, both of the two opera adaptations, and the 2001 ballet adaptation all omit Cathy's pregnancy and just have her succumb to her illness instead of childbirth. Meanwhile, two modern TV adaptations, Sparkhouse and Wuthering High (aka The Wrong Boyfriend), have their Cathy character Driven to Suicide: in Wuthering High, she drowns herself in the ocean, while in Sparkhouse, Andrew slits his wrists.
    • In both the 1954 Mexican film and the 1970 British film, Heathcliff is shot by Hindley Earnshaw, the latter being Spared by the Adaptation. And in the 2009 TV adaptation, he commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.
    • The 2016 stage version uniquely has Cathy I murder Heathcliff.
  • Framing Device: The 2009 miniseries makes the second half of the novel the framing device for the past events.
  • Gender Flip: The BBC created a modern day adaptation of the book called Sparkhouse in 2002, where the roles of Cathy and Heathcliff are gender flipped to Andrew and Carol, respectively.
  • How We Got Here: The story begins with most of the events already taken place. The novel and many adaptations begin with Lockwood meeting the principle characters, seeing Catherine (I)'s ghost in a nightmare, and then learning the full story from Nelly Dean. However, a few adaptations simplify things by removing Lockwood and framing the flashbacks in a different way: The 1970 film opens with Catherine (I)'s funeral, as Heathcliff watches from afar. The 2009 film opens first with Heathcliff haunted by Catherine (I) in his sleep, then as Linton is brought to Wuthering Heights by Edgar. The 1939 film includes Lockwood but substitutes some characters present in the frame story to conform it to its unique continuity.
  • Kubrick Stare: Heathcliff gives one to Catherine (II) when he returns to Wuthering Heights after digging up her mother's grave in the 2009 version. It leads directly into the flashback.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: In the 2009 version, Catherine (II) is told the story by Nelly while the two are trapped by Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights.
  • The Meadow Run: Heathcliff and Cathy (I) do this in the movie versions, at any rate.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Heathcliff dishes one out to Hindley in the 2009 adaptation, when the latter states that Heathcliff's love for Cathy is pretend, slamming him against the floor and throttling him.
      Heathcliff: DON'T SAY HER NAME!
    • Catherine (II) also dishes one out to Linton in the 2009 adaptation when he reveals Heathcliff's plan to have them married.
  • Offscreen Crash: Right after Heathcliff follows Catherine (I) into a room at the very end of the 2009 version, a loud banging is heard, as Hareton and Cathy appear while running through the house. It's either from Hareton slamming a door or from Heathcliff shooting himself in the head.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cathy (II) in the 2009 version when she finds that all of the doors are locked and Linton reveals Heathcliff's plan.
  • Race Lift: Heathcliff is described as swarthy like a gypsy on many occasions in the book, but he's definitely not a black African. The 2011 film made him one, though.
  • Say My Name: In the 1970 version, Heathcliff's last words are "Cathy!" before Hindley shoots him.
  • Setting Update: The 2009 version changes events from the late 18th century to the early to mid 19th century, judging by Cathy's headstone which lists her death date as 1830 as opposed to 1784 in the novel.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Hindley in the 1970 adaptation and the 1954 Mexican adaptation. He even gets to kill Heathcliff in these two versions.
    • Isabella in the 1939 adaptation. She's still married to Heathcliff at the time of his death.
    • Heathcliff in the 2011 adaptation, both of the two opera adaptations, and several modernized TV versions.
    • Cathy I at the end of the 2016 stage version, although she still has her illness and won't last much longer.
  • Surprise Incest: Implied with Catherine (I) and Heathcliff, at least for some readers. There are hints that Heathcliff might be Mr. Earnshaw's illegitimate son. The 1970 version with Timothy Dalton certainly believed it was no coincidence.
  • Wham Line: Early in the 2009 version, Cathy (II) finds a portrait of her mother at Wuthering Heights and asks Linton about it.
    Cathy (II): Why would Mr. Heathcliff keep a portrait of my mother? Why? Why would he do that?
    Linton: Because he loved her. Because he loved her before your father did. And she loved him too.
  • Window Watcher: The 2009 version ends with Heathcliff and Catherine (I) as ghosts through an upstairs window, watching Cathy (II) and Hareton leave Wuthering Heights.