July 24, 2021

Ten Years from Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights

In 2011, separated by just six months, two of the best film adaptations of the best-known novels by the sisters Charlotte (1816-1855) and Emily Brontë (1818-1848) were released. From the first the movie came in March Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, while the second was released Wuthering Heights, film with Kaya Scodelario and James Howson shown at none other than the Venice Film Festival.

That choice of public display cabinets had a fairly understandable logic. While Jane Eyre It was a more commercial film with well-known actors, Wuthering Heights It was an oblique and different film, a kind of denial of everything done before, now with a vocation for rebellion. In this understanding, it was quite consistent that the feature film with Mia Wasikowska had at least one commercial premiere in Chile at the Las Condes Film Festival in January 2012, while the production with Kaya Scodelario languished in the cellars of independent cinema and without distribution. international.

A decade later, in the midst of a pandemic that brings movies closer to us through streaming like never before in history, both works are just one click away. And, well, a few pesos depending on whether they are seen on payment platforms or in the virtual rental / purchase.

A good exercise is to see them together and compare aesthetics, performances and staging. The Brontë sisters (there is a third as well, Anne) were not particularly similar to each other (although they all died before the age of 40) and their works enjoy adaptations that delve into their obsessions and looks. At the moment, Amazon Prime Video offers the version of Wuthering Heights by the English director Andrea Arnold, which is also available on the Mubi platform, a service dedicated more to art and independent cinema. For the rental, the film is on Google Play Movies, the platform of the technology giant that will soon operate only under the name YouTube, also from Google.

Jane Eyre by American filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga, whose long-awaited premiere this year 007: No Time to Die, is not on platforms, but can be purchased or leased on at least two services: Apple TV + and Google Play Movies. It is a somewhat more common film to find on cable, but its visual splendor is well worth a separate special function.

Romance and tragedy in the north of England

Both films take place in the north of England, in the Yorkshire Territories or nearby, amid the rugged and wild landscape of the local highlands. Jane Eyre, which is the 17th adaptation of the novel to the cinema, is the story of a woman who manages to weed her life and stand up after one fall after another. Jane (Mia Wasikowska) must first confront the little hospitality of an orphanage and then the human and physical coldness of the imposing abode of Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), a strange and distant being.

Cary Fukunaga’s film is quite classical in its structure and takes place sometime towards the end of the so-called Georgian era, in the first half of the English 19th century. His costume design is top-notch and for this work the British Michael O’Connor was nominated for an Oscar.

Conversely, Wuthering Heights It moves in the field of auteur cinema and has the contact details of its director, the English Andrea Arnold, who had just won the Jury Prize at Cannes for her film Fish Tank (2009). For the first time the role of the complex and conflictive Heathcliff is played by an Afro-British actor, following in this sense the physical description that Emily Brontë herself specified in the novel. The role falls to James Howson, while his female counterpart Catherine Earnshaw is in charge of Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner), who was just 18 years old here and was still participating in the popular teen series Skins.

Wuthering Heights it also follows the fate of lives marked by orphanhood (Heathcliff is picked up on a Liverpool street) and by family disputes. It’s a much more dramatic movie than Jane Eyre and the director imbues each shot with a nervous rhythm, with a camera in hand and with scenes where dark colors and shadows are the visual food. Both films are sisters, they dialogue with each other and enter the field of absolute recommendation.