Talkie or Text? Wuthering Heights

July 3, 2013

Ever so often, it seems like the cine version of a book portrays the story quite differently than the original. Is it because of your imagination? Or has the story truly been tampered with? I recently watched the 1992 version of Wuthering Heights, which is also one of my all time favorite novels, so I thought I’d use that to find out.

The characters simply don’t match with the ones you had in your imagination!

When you read a book, you create a world of people within your head. And when you enter a theatre and see different people pretending to be your beloved characters.. Well, if you’re anything like me, you have to suppress the urge to stand up and shout out. Wuthering Heights did well in that regard, with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes doing justice to their roles. The Lintons, in all their spoilt selves and folly, were portrayed very accurately.

The director leaves out a few scenes or alters a few facts to better suit it for the silver screen.

This, in the eyes of a book lover, would be a grievous offence. For instance, in Wuthering Heights, many of the more disturbing twists, like Heathcliff bribing the sexton to hollow out his coffin towards Cathy’s when he dies, are left out. Minor details, but they could be annoying if you’re as familiar with the plot as the back of your hand. Peter Kosminsky, however, seems to have dispersed the loneliness of the moors and the violence of passion of Cathy and Heathcliff (central motifs in the book) throughout the film.

The character relationships are not explored in the same depth, nor are they as well etched.

More often than not, this is because of the constraints of time and perspective. Some screenwriters are apt to focus more on the main characters, and only vaguely sketch the other, but important roles.  You can see shades of this in Wuthering Heights, whose script has been written by Anne Devlin.  Credit has to be given for not altering the dialogue of pivotal scenes, though.

At the end of the movie, you’re left with a sense of having been dealt a bad hand.

You know that the story was the same; you know that it ended the same way, and yet.  This is probably because you imagined the story panning out a different way in your mind, and the scenes that were emphasized in the movie were not the pivotal points of the plot for you. Well, this is where it all comes down to individual perception!

It’s said that no two people read the same book, and that probably holds true for the moviegoer and the director of the movie too. Nevertheless, it’s always a thrill to see our favorite books come to life, and to speculate on whether things will look and sound the way we always imagined. To avoid disappointment though, the practical literature aficionado keeps their mind open to new impressions and retellings of their favorite tale!  

Here are the movie-book comparisons of some other prominent books:
Lord of the Rings
The Hunger Games
The Great Gatsby

Janani Hariharan
Find me at

Janani Hariharan

Editor and Writer at IndiaBookStore
Wanderer, nature freak and lover of all things science-y. Certified devourer of all printed matter.
Janani Hariharan
Find me at

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