Few words, but an extraordinary sense of place


WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Starring: Shannon Beer, Kaya Scodelario, Solomon Glave, James Howson, Lee Shaw, James Northcote, and Paul Hilton. Directed by Andrea Arnold. Rated MA15+ (Strong coarse language and themes). 129 min.

This is a film version of the classic novel of the same name by Emily Bronte. The movie won the Best Cinematography Award at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.

The title of the movie, and the novel, refers to the name of a house on the Yorkshire moors of England. It is universally symbolic of the passionate love of a poor, servant youth for a spirited young woman, who returns his affection. 

The film explores yearning in painful detail, and it is beautifully photographed. The movie is virtually a kaleidoscope of different emotive images that have poetic and sensual appeal. The misty surroundings of the English landscape bring a heightened sense of moodiness and frustration to the story. They are forever cold and forbidding, and elements of shocking animal cruelty are included to reinforce the brutal reality of life on the moors.

The movie has little dialogue, and it tries to make up in atmosphere, what it lacks in words. While not exactly what the readers of Bronte’s story might expect, the film is visually stunning. It establishes an extraordinary sense of place, and captures the rawness of obsessive desire in a complex, and original way. It steps out of genre, but sumptuously so.

Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.


Wuthering Heights (Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting)