Peter Kosminsky's 1992 adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights goes to the extreme of casting Sinéad O'Connor in a brief bit as Brontë herself, but the film still doesn't approach the accomplishment of William Wyler... more »'s classic 1939 production (with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon) or subsequent versions by Luis Buñuel and Robert Fuest. That doesn't make it unwatchable, however: it still offers The English Patient costars Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche as doomed lovers Heathcliff and Cathy. Binoche is a bit washed-out, but Fiennes makes a strong impression as the rejected laborer who makes his fortune and exacts a vengeance. Unlike Wyler's film, this one covers all the chapters of Brontë's book, but it is sodden with misery and lacks all grace. --Tom Keogh« less
Unlike her workhorse sister, Emily Bronte completed one novel in her lifetime, although, one must acknowledge all the poetry she wrote as well. In fact, I'm a bit biased here, as she is my favorite poet. The story of Wuthering Heights, however, is extremely difficult to process. At the time, it caused something of a stir, as nothing quite like it had ever appeared in print. Now, being acknowledged as a classic of English literature, back then it was controversial, due to its unusually stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty, it's challenges to strict Victorian ideals regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes, and gender inequality; whilst also exploring the effects of envy, nostalgia, pessimism, and resentment. In short, all the torture one witnesses here could have been solved by emotional IQ. Too many humans let impulse control them, and farsighted thought is tossed out the door. I firmly believe Emily meant us to contemplate this point.
This 1992 version also contains the second generation tale of the book, which many film versions leave out, which is a shame, as it is essential to understanding what Dante Gabriel Rossetti, called "A fiend of a book – an incredible monster. The action is laid in hell, – only it seems places and people have English names there." Our lead actors bring all the nobility of their craft to the screen, and are quite affecting, although Ralph gets a little melodramatic in places.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
An unforgettable rendition of this classic
strega2 | USA | 09/13/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was amazed when I read that this British production was not well received upon its release in 1992. The highly talented pair of Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes play the doomed Cathy and Heathcliff, supported by the equally fine Janet McTeer as Ellen Dean. The performances are exemplary--Fiennes' performance is said to have inspired Steven Spielberg to cast him as the Nazi commandant in "Schindler's List." And a diabolical Heathcliff he is, indeed--Fiennes plays this intense role faithful to Emily Bronte's original character. He is tormented, sadistic, manipulative, ruthless and brutal--and nonetheless hypnotically sexual and alluring. This is the genuine Heathcliff, with all apologies to the brilliant Laurence Olivier, who portrayed Heathcliff as a much more sympathetic character. Juliette Binoche plays both Cathy and Cathy's daughter by the ineffectual Edgar Linton, and brings great depth and appeal to both roles. The scenes of the bleak Yorkshire moors, and the haunting, shadowy quality of the Wuthering Heights house, lend this film a truly Gothic atmosphere. A jarring note is the casting of Sinead O'Connor (in a wig) as Emily Bronte, but this is a minor flaw. I found this version every bit as good as the original 1939 classic, to which this film has been unfairly compared. It is much more faithful to the brooding, doomed quality of the book. The scenes acted by Fiennes as the grief-stricken Heathcliff just after Cathy's death are alone worth the price of the film. For the many fans of these two brilliant actors, and of Bronte's novel, this film is well worth seeing. END"
A breakout performance
Sandra Robertson | Huntsville, Alabama USA | 06/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Every once in a while, I encounter an actor who, although playing a familiar character, seems to re-invent it and show details of it that have never before been displayed. Such is Ralph Fiennes portrayal of Heathcliff in this film. I was not at all surprised that Spielberg chose him for "Schindler's List" after watching this film--Fiennes' Heathcliff is almost wholly unsympathetic (he is a wife---and child-- abuser) but Fiennes lets us know the inner heartbreak that drives Heathcliff to such meanness. Previous Heathcliffs have been more stock romantic leads--the original Moody Guys a' la' James Dean.I can't really understand the extreme negativity of the "official" reviews--it appears that the movie, as is the novel, its characters, the author, and her entire family is a little off-center and out of the mainstream. The Brontes were a bunch of weird and wild kids in a weird and wild part of the world, and "Wuthering Heights" is a weird and wild book--not a proper Victorian romance, as other reviewers have suggested. Comparing Emily Bronte to Jane Austen is like comparing William Faulkner to John Grisham because they are both from Mississippi. None of Austen's characters could survive in Bronte's Yorkshire, and the Brontes would probably be unwelcome in Austen's stately Hampshire homes. I,too, liked this book as a teenager, and now have the opportunity to teach it to high schoolers,and I must say my students generally prefer this novel and this film treatment to most others in British Literature. The film does have its flaws--but not enough to make it unwatchable, and having spent a wild, rainy weekend in the Bronte's hometown of Haworth, Yorkshire, I do believe the film aptly captures the mood of that forbidding place.As for the choice of Sinead O'Connor to play Emily "framing" the "frame story"-- all I can guess is that she does bear a passing resemblance to the portrait of Charlotte Bronte that hangs over my computer (great, big, intense eyes). Plus the Brontes were ethnically Irish. Watch this film to help your English lit grade, to observe a truly artful nuanced acting performance, to enjoy some beautiful scenery, or just enjoy a weepy gothic romance. Any way you look at it, it can't possibly be a waste of time."
"Heathcliff, do come to me."
CoffeeGurl | MA | 11/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To me, Heathcliff is one of the most complex and compelling characters ever written and I had once thought that any actor would fall short in playing him in a film or miniseries. Having watched this beautiful and haunting adaptation of one of my favorite novels of all time, I have to say that Ralph Fiennes has more than succeeded in bringing the aforementioned anti-hero to life. Emily Bronte would have been proud. Everyone who has read Wuthering Heights knows about the tragic love story between Cathy and Heathcliff and how he becomes a dark, brooding, manipulative, diabolical man who takes his revenge on the people who he feels have wronged him and torn him away from Cathy, including her daughter and his own child and ward. Fiennes brings out Heathcliff's many conflicting emotions flawlessly and his performance floored me. Juliette Binoche as Cathy Linton/Catherine Earnshaw is great as well. The supporting cast is quite splendid too -- no cardboard cutout performances here! The backdrop of the moors is beautiful and gothic, just like Bronte described them in her book. I am very impressed with this adaptation. I haven't seen the 1939 film adaptation or the miniseries from Masterpiece Theater yet, but I wonder if they come close to this wonderful film. The BBC will produce an adaptation some time next year and I think that Richard Armitage (North and South) would make a wonderful Heathcliff because he too could bring many nuances to his acting. In the meantime, I shall treasure this one and watch it over and over again."
Best version ever.
ASHTON C. LUCAS | Sydney Australia | 01/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Probably the most romantic/tragic movie I've ever watched. Leaves the Laurence Olivier et.al. version for dead. (That movie finished half way through the book). Ralph Fienne's tortured and damged Heathcliffe is mesmerising, but WHO cast Sinaid O'Connor for Christ's sake??? And Binoche as Cathy is of course "haunting"-(sorry couldnt help it!!!) The eponymous scenery and the music score stay in your memory long after the film has ended. You'd be a hard heart not to enjoy this one"
Debbie Hogan | Hayward, CA USA | 11/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing this film years ago on , I think , Masterpiece Theatre and wondering at Ralph Fienne's hypnotic, erotic, passionate portrayal of the tortured, manipulative, vindictive Heathcliff. Last night, I found myself watching bits of it on "YouTube" and fell in love all over again. Impulsive girl that I am, I immediately came here to amazon and bought the dvd. To me, there is no finer character in literature than Heathcliff and there is no more powerful study of the devastating effects of romantic love than Wuthering Heights. This film does justice to both."