Saturday, 24 August 2013

Who's Your Ideal Heathcliff?

Goodness knows, there have been enough of them. From Laurence Olivier in1939 to James Howson in the 2011 TV version.

Each actor has attempted to plant his individual stamp on the character - and their interpretations have ranged widely.

Laurence Olivier gave us an almost aristocratic intepretation and, for me, sadly, it never worked. Great actor though he was, he couldn't capture the raw earthiness of Emily Bronte's wayward hero. I have never ceased to wonder how this quiet, virginal girl, raised in a Yorkshire parsonage in the middle of the untamed and magnificent Pennines, could have dreamed up such a wild and untamed main character - the template for so many wicked, yet irresistable, heroes ever since. Oh, hang on a minute. Got it now. It's because she was a quiet, virginal girl, living in the midst of all that wild moorland. That probably explains her sister Charlotte's Mr Rochester too.

Anyway, let's run through a few of the Heathcliffs so far.

Following on from Sir Larry, Timothy Dalton smouldered onto our screens,  in the 1970 adaptation, called, simply Wuthering Heights.  This film stayed fairly true to the book, with exceptions (aren't there always?) and those dark good looks had my teenage self melting in my cinema seat. Here's a clip:

In 1978, a TV series afforded the luxury of time to Ken Hutchison who brooded, but not consistently enough (I felt).

Then, in 1992, the farmhouse became a Gothic pile for the latest cinematic adaptation.  This version was titled 'Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights' for some reason. You mean there's another one? This time it was Ralph Fiennes who gave us long, brooding, dark looks. I actually quite liked his portrayal. Here he is:

Just six years later and a TV series comes along, still reminding us that it was Emily Bronte's Wutheirng Heights (not to be confused with anyone else's) and with Robert Cavanagh at the helm. Generally regarded as the most faithful to the book, this version has had its lovers and its haters (well, haven't they all, really?) For me though, he still isn't Heathcliff. Not the Heathcliff I see when I read the book anyway.
2009 and 2011 gave us two new TV movie versions. On both occasions the directors decided we really did know who wrote it and just titled their productions, 'Wuthering Heights'. Of these, Tom Hardy's 2009 performance definitely takes the critical bouquets from James Howson's later effort.


So far, I haven't mentioned the stage version. You know, the one with Cliff Richard. Cliff Richard? Yes, I remember squeaking in disbelief too. Heathcliff - a musical too! Sadly, I never got it. His many thousands of fans seemed to love it though. They went to see it again and again in London's West End. No doubt many of them would put him as their number one choice. As they are entitled to.
OK, no prizes for guessing that, for me, the ideal Heathcliff is... Timothy Dalton. A controversial choice, I know. Of course, if they decide on yet another remake, I'd settle for Josh Holloway with black hair. I reckon he'd pull it off! 'Course he'd need to work at the Yorkshire accent...

So, who's your ideal Heathcliff?

12 comments:

  1. Like most works that I enjoyed far more on paper than on film, my ideal Heathcliff remains somewhere in my head and an image of my own imagination. Sometimes, I just can't get past that. Yet Colin Firth as my Mr. Darcy seems to work just fine :-)

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    1. I know what you mean, Sharon. In a totally different genre, I always had my own vision of what Poirot must look like. I saw different film versions, with Peter Ustinov, Albert Finney et al. All enjoybal,ebut none of them authentic (as far as I was concerned) Then, one day, a new TV series of Poirot began and there he was - David Suchet - precisely as I imagined Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth. The same applies to Miss Marple. As far as I'm concerned, she IS (or rather, was) Joan Hickson.

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  2. I loathe Heathcliffe almost as much as I dislike Cathy - what a horrible whiny privileged pair - so I never 'got' the romance between them. [Probably for the same reason I don't 'get' the romance in most het romances]. I haven't seen any of these adaptations apart from the Olivier version, not a good one, but I have read and enjoyed the book as an historical novel and once was blessed to see it on stage performed by a small theatre group. Heathcliff in that was a tall handsome blond with a riot of poodle curls [this was the 80s] a terrific Yorkshire accent and masses of attitude. He was great. But he was also wearing overly tight pantaloons and appeared to have several pounds of poorly wrapped fruit in his pants. Once noticed it was hard to take ones eyes off the fruit basket. Cathy was a very pretty red head whose accents veered from Scots to Devon and back via Cardiff and Liverpool. The guy who played Mr Lowood had a slight speech impediment that meant he spat all over the front row. I was chaperoning a school party and the kids were very good while they were in the theatre but the trip home was an absolute riot. We'd get them calmed down then someone would mutter "eeee Cathy" and they'd be off again. So, sorry, for me Heathcliff will always mean poodle curls and plums.

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    1. Love it, Elin! Wish I'd seen that version

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  3. Lol Antonia. DO behave... You would of course wish to assist with any coaching..

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  4. well lemme know if you need any help....

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    1. Don't you know you'd be the first I'd call, Shehanne?

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  5. Aye right..... bah goom that's whi ah'm gettin' oar in ryyyyight naow lass. Haaave dohn a bit o Yawshiah Clara Soppit no less'n all.

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  6. Errr...I didn't know Cathy came from Alabama?!?

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  7. lol.....................bah goom it were slahtly west of..

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  8. Hell yeah! Ya'll sounded a lot like:

    http://youtu.be/71lzKDsV50w

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