Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brontes and the Big Screen

No sooner am I JUST beginning to catch my breath after the newest adaptation of Jane Eyre just took it away then is it almost knocked right out of me again. Apparently, this is the year of Brontes on the big screen because Andrea Arnold (a fairly talented director but mostly unheard of here in the USA) is soon to be releasing a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights. I know that just yesterday I pronounced the novel depressing, but I still loved it even with its obvious downsides.
I heard that a new adaptation was supposed to be slated for 2011 right around the time that I discovered that Michael Fassbender was casted as Rochester for Jane Eyre. From the research I've conducted (*cough cough* Wikipedia is my best friend), it seems that Wuthering Heights had a lot of trouble getting off the ground. It was passed from director to director and a truckload of different actors were supposedly being casted as Cathy and Heathcliff. Surprisingly enough, before Michael Fassbender was Rochester, he was supposed to be Heathcliff. Then another director took the project and Ed Westwick replaced him. Then ANOTHER director took it and wiped the casting clean again. Natalie Portman had been in talks for Cathy as well as that beautiful actress from the Prince of Persia whose name escapes me. She also starred as Tess in the BBC mini-series adaption of Tess of the D'urbervilles. Anyway, I abandoned hope that the movie would ever come out, but sure enough it's slated to appear late this year.
The big "whoa" about this film is the fact that it (like Jane Eyre 2011) is supposed to be taking a younger and fresher view on the novel. Therefore, Andrea Arnold ended up casting the young Skins actress, Kaya Scodelario, as Cathy. She says she then searched high and low for the man to play Heathcliff and came up with a brand-spankin newcomer named James Howson.
Now, here's the thing about James Howson...When I say brand spankin new, I MEAN it. If you google him, you'll find him absolutely NO WHERE. He hasn't been on the big screen before. He hasn't been interviewed about the movie, save one short quote that has nothing to do with anything. And...hold your horses...he's African American!! *gasp*
Now, up until this point I've been trying to keep myself under wraps, but I might as well admit it now: I am African American. When I heard that Heathcliff was being played by a black actor, I was elated because it's the first time in history that a black person will even appear in a period drama, much less play the LEAD. I'm not saying that in a way that says "conspiracy", I'm saying it because I'm a realistic person who realizes that English Lit was written by Europeans ABOUT Europeans and that's absolutely nothing to be mad about either. On the other hand, I'm also kind of nervous because I just never in my life imagined Heathcliff as a black. I know the novel describes him as "gypsy-like" and all, but I was thinking maybe an olive complexion. So the casting kind of caught me off guard all the same. Still, according to the Bronte Blog that I follow, the pre-cannes party showed some snippets of the film and it received mostly positive reactions that particularly showed love to James Howson. I'm excited!!
I'll be updating you on any news I may get about the movie, but right now it's been extremely quiet and low-key. There's almost no information on it, which is why when the promo poster came out I just HAD to share it and even that is pretty mysterious because it doesnt show the faces of the actors and doesnt really give us any insight. It's like they're just trying to keep us completely in the shadows until the movie pops up. I hope this pays off and gives the "big bang" effect. Still, Wuthering Heights is as hard a novel to adapt as Jane Eyre, if not harder. There's so much uncertainty surrounding this film for me. At the same time, I'm still excited and cautiously optimistic. I was afraid for the newest version of Jane Eyre and it ended up wowing me, so maybe this movie will do the same. :)



  1. Oh, a new Wuthering Heights?! What fun, thanks for the info!

  2. Darn it, now I'll have to pick it up and actually read it:) I always shied away from this one because I was afraid of it depressing me. But I can't see the movie without reading the book, so I'll have to pull it off the shelf...

  3. Enjoying your blog... I must be pedantic, though, and say that James Howson is not African-American; he is British, from Leeds. No idea where his ancestors are from, but I would guess probably the Caribbean (and possibly England too). I hope you enjoy the film, anyway! I haven't seen it yet but look forward to it too. Amy.

  4. I'm finally starting to browse your "Adaptations" section, and reading this post made me wonder... do you like Shakespeare at all? There's a fabulous version of "Hamlet" starring Adrian Lester, who is also black. Phenomenal performance in the role, and the other major characters are also either black or Indian (from India, not American Indian). Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print -- Amazon has it used for $90! -- but if you have a good library system, you might be able to find it (or Netflix might have it?). It's directed by Peter Brook, that might make it easier to find. Here is the Amazon listing just to show what it looks like.

    1. I must admit, I haven't read much Shakespeare. Most of what I did read was for school and I did like it, but I seriously need to brush up on it. I'm actually reading Hamlet this year very soon, so I'll make sure to look into that adaption. Hopefully I can get back to you soon with a review.

    2. Ooooh, I'll look forward to your thoughts on Hamlet! Every time I read or watch it, I learn something new, it's so wonderfully complex. And I love finding out what other people think about it, and learning from what they've picked up on that I missed.