newly restored master-
Heights, Gang of Four
and Love on The Ground
by acclaimed French
New Wave filmmaker
Jacques Rivette, contem-
porary of luminaries such
as Francois Truffant and
Jean-Luc Godard, have
been released on DVD for
the first time anywhere in
WEIRD AND WONDERFUL music echoes throughout this melan-cholic retelling of
Emily Brontë's gripping, much-loved classic love story, Wuthering
Heights (also known as Hurlevent 'Windswept':
the name of Catherine's home), that shifts the backdrop from the wild
Yorkshire Moors to France, between
the Beaume and the Vidourle, in 1931. Interesting it most definitely is.
The doomed lovers, now Catherine Sevenier (Fabienne Babe, De Sueur Et Du
Sang) and Roch (Lucas Belvaux, Madame Bovary), are very
much 20th Century people and parts of this tragic tale have been streamlined
and updated with Rivette's masterly touch. For those who worry about missing
the passionate and vengeful Heathcliff don't, because Roch is every bit
as dark and attractive and as wickedly vengeful as the original gypsy waif.
The opening credits are very atmospheric, with a background of a thunderstorm,
but the sun shines for the opening scene as Catherine and Roch who was
brought to Windswept by Catherine's father when he was only three months old,
without any explanation of where he came from declare their love and
commitment for each other.
The two are as wild and as free and untamed as the land on which they live and
the only fly in the ointment is Catherine's bullying drunkard brother Guillaume
Catherine and Roch are forced apart when Catherine hurts herself
while the two are secretly watching the neighbouring Lindons brother
Olivier (Olivier Torres) and sister Isabelle (Alice de Poncheville) playing
tennis. The Lindons make her welcome, but Roch goes back to Windswept, leaving
her alone to accept overtures from the devoted Olivier.
When Catherine returns she is changed. She has become a young
lady, fashionably dressed and receiving Olivier when he comes calling. Then,
much to Roch's chagrin, Olivier finally asks Catherine to marry
him. As they become closer one of the men who work on the land
and who is a little sinister is full of prophetic, biblical warnings.
Catherine says she'll marry Olivier because Guillaume has made it degrading
to marry Roch. "It wasn't my destiny to marry Olivier…
I don't love Roch it's deeper than that; I am Roch. For me he's always
present. If I marry Olivier I can help Roch."
And so it begins a tragic tale of love lost; of jealousy and hate;
of ghosts and madness. But most of all it is a moving, intriguing and unusual
take on Emily Brontë's classic. In French, but with clear
English subtitles (and time to read them!).
Also featuring Sandra Montaigu as Hélène and Philippe Morier-Genoud as Joseph,
Wuthering Heights will be released by Bluebell Films as a director's
cut version on 25 February (2008) at an RRP of £14.99 | Language: French (subtitled).