20 thoughts on “Costumes in Wuthering Heights Movie & TV Adaptions

  1. The Fiennes/Binoche version is the only one I can bear to watch. They truly make me believe the characters.

  2. I can never read or watch a Bronte piece (ANY of them, for crying out loud) without ending up feeling bummed. The men are all such dicks and the women such victims that I pity the poor Bronte sisters (whose life with Dad and brother was apparently no picnic). Jane Eyre is the pluckiest of the Bronte heroines and Rochester the best of a bad bunch of male leads, but even he’s so frickin’ manipulative with poor Jane that I want to smack him upside the head.

    Give me Jane Austen anytime.

    1. Hah! I hear that. The Brontes were all writing Gothic novels in the 18th-c. style, whereas Austen wrote genteel contemporary novels of manners. VERY different things. The Gothic genre is not meant to be realistic at all — it’s metaphorical & far more about the language of the storytelling. Which also makes it harder to translate onto film.

      1. Read the complete book and saw the 1939 film in 1957 when I was a very sheltered 15 year old. Was entranced by both– such passion!

    2. Try Villette! It’s a much more mature novel and the love in it ends up being real and good. It’s also more modern than any of the other Bronte novels, and pretty deep. It can be a bit tough early on when Lucy Snowe is going through a pretty extreme depression, but she and the book both blossom out beautifully. And parts of it are pretty funny (the pink dress! The NUN!). The guy seems like an asshole, but is actually a really good, flawed, human. No real sociopaths in this one- win!

      I did roll my eyes every time Snowe went off on Catholicism (can you say “staunch Protestant”?) but in the end I found that pretty funny too. The love story is also informed by Charlotte Bronte’s own (mostly un-requited?) passion when she worked as an English teacher abroad, so that gave it some interest as well.

  3. To be fair to some of the above, I don’t think it quite qualifies as a mistake or inaccuracy if they’re *deliberately* changing the setting – Jane Eyre gets the same treatment most of the time, being put into the 1830s-1840s to be contemporary with the Brontes. There seems to be a sense that the torrid drama and angst fits better with the Romantic period (and its gothicky dress) than as an historical-historical drama.

    When I think about it, it seems like the Brontes didn’t do much with the historical settings, did they? Hmm.

    1. Well, the Bronte sister are very consciously writing in the 18th-c. gothic novel tradition; that’s what they had read & were deeply influenced by. Both Wuthering Heights & Jane Eyre evoke common themes & motifs from that genre (from supernatural elements like ghosts & the fae to mysterious character origins to ‘coincidental’ meetings & over-hearings), all placing the novels in the earlier period.

      1. True. I suppose the issue is that nowadays the 18th century gothic fiction is forgotten, and dark themes, dark houses, and borderline/full supernatural happenings are associated with the Victorian era – in part because of their life dates, but also the contemporary writings of authors like Collins and Dickens, and then more modern authors setting their own gothic stories in the 19th century …

        That said, were the Brontes essentially doing the same thing, given that many 18th century gothic romances were set historically themselves, in the 16th or 17th centuries?

  4. I’ve seen only four versions of “WUTHERING HEIGHTS”. Ironically, my favorite one remains the 1939 version, in which only half of the novel was adapted and set in the mid 19th century.

  5. Well, I love this article, but I’m pretty sure Heathcliff being dark isn’t simply figurative. Nellie tells young Heathcliff this at some point, to console him: “Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week’s income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together?” The suggestion that he might be royalty isn’t supposed to be taken seriously of course, but the exchange indicates that Heathcliff looked different enough from these people to be seen as foreign, definitely not European, “of another race” and therefore “savage”. It’s also telling that early in his life he’s often pejoratively called a “gypsy”. Though what Emily Bronte had in mind probably wasn’t Heathcliff actually being of African descent, I find it understandable and even interesting for a film to explore the implied racial issues further. I haven’t actually seen the film so can’t comment on its quality, but portraying Heathcliff as a black man seems legit to me as an interpretation.

  6. I am writing to inform the author Trystan L. Bass that there is no such word as ‘adaption’.

    The word is adaptation. Please check any Concise Oxford.

  7. Can’t count how many times I have seen the 2011 version and still can’t get enough from it!
    I love it’s raw, no-nonsense atmosphere. And yes, so in love with the shabby coats and dresses as long as the eye can see…
    That’s my Emily!

  8. I found another version and watching it now on TCM!!
    1958 teleplay for the DuPont Show of the Month, with Richard Burton as Heathcliff (very smoldering and hunky) and Rosemary Harris as Cathy (yes, the same that was in the early Spiderman films).

    It’s not really FF worthy, the costumes are very generically awful, as well as the hair, but the acting is good if a bit melodramatic. They attempt an 1820-30s look I am guessing? They seem to hit all the tragic plot points, but leave off the third generation as all other versions seem to.

    Fun facts:
    -Patty Duke plays the young Cathy.
    -It’s fun to watch the DuPont commercials in the breaks where they use their tag line “better living through chemistry” which would go on to be hacked by the counter culture in the late 60s.

    Here is a link to a New Yorker article about it:

  9. Ok love this post Jane Eyre + Wuthering Heights are some of my favorite books but I think the perfect adaptation of them is far from reach more for WH than Jane (1973+1983+2011 are really good) but seeing a really big bunch of Bronte adaptations I must accept that the 1992+1998+1978 are fine plus the 1950’s adaptations you couldn’t find I saw 1950 (Charlton Heston) 1956(Italian miniseries) and seems the 1958 version reappeared and I think the 1953 version still got photos around as the 1962 version so you might like to give it a try

    1. Talked too much and said too little in fact my favorite versions are the 2004 Italian miniseries which is Stuuuuuning and the 1968 French version starring Genevieve Casile (1975 Marie Antoinette) as the two Cathys she’s my(French) spirit animal when it comes to period dramas and this version is beautiful as well

  10. I’m sad there’s no evaluation of Kate Bush’s music video for “Wuthering Heights!” I want to know what score it would get on the “Ghostly Cathys haunting you” scale.

  11. I like the Fiennes version well enough (i haven’t seen Hardy all the way through) but i don’t really like its take on Cathy and i think because its a film the pacing tally suffers. You don’t have much time to process the complexity of emotion and from what i remember Cathy never seems (to me) to show any true attachment to Heathcliff. It seemed almost like she did everything she did at all times (even as children) to string him along and hurt him and i don’t think Cathy is that cerebral

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