September 11, 2012

New trailer for Wuthering Heights adaptation


James Howson is the first black actor to play Heathcliff in a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

This weekend, Vulture released a trailer for director Andrea Arnold’s film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s classic novel of tragic love and revenge. The film premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival and has already had a theatrical release in the UK, but will only arrive in the U.S. next month.

Wuthering Heights has been adapted for film and television several times in the past, including an Oscar-nominated 1939 film starring Laurence Olivier, and a 1992 version with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes—one of the few adaptations that doesn’t omit the second-generation story of Cathy, Linton, and Hareton. Arnold’s version sets itself apart, though, with this trailer that looks less like the typical period/costume drama fare and more like a faithful rendering of Brontë’s bleak, sparse novel.

Plans for a Wuthering Heights movie had been in the works since 2008, with Natalie Portman initially set to play the role of Cathy, and other big name actors attached to the project at various times (most lamentably Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick playing Heathcliff) before Arnold took over as director in 2010. The casting for her version feels more natural, with age-appropriate Kaya Scodelario as Catherine and James Howson as Heathcliff, the first black actor to play the part. At first glance, that choice could read as gimmicky, but is actually in keeping with the novel, which describes Heathcliff as “dark-skinned” and “a little Lascar,” referring to sailors from India and South Asia—an indication that race, not only class and upbringing, was part of Brontë’s tale from the start.

Arnold’s adaptation of the novel will be released in the US on October 5.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.