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Masterpiece Theatre: Wuthering Heights (2009)

7.52 h 18 min2009X-Ray16+
In Emily Bronte's classic and haunting tale, Heathcliff is tormented by his love for Cathy. Will Cathy choose a life of comfort and wealth with Edgar Linton or will she succumb to her love for Heathcliff? Starring Tom Hardy (The Virgin Queen) as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy.
Coky Giedroyc
Tom HardyCharlotte RileyAndrew Lincoln
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4.5 out of 5 stars

1472 global ratings

  1. 78% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Ga303Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
May be my favorite adaptation so far
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I have to admit I'm confounded by the remark from the reviewer who based a poor review on the opinion that this film is "not family-friendly" or "not for children," as I'm mystified why anyone would think that "Wuthering Heights" (in any adaptation) was a story for children. There sometimes seems to be a general misperception that just because a novel was written in the 19th century and is considered a literary classic, that it's somehow appropriate for all ages.

Charlotte Riley comes very close to my idea of Cathy, at least physically. If she's not as "bratty" as she is in the novel, as other reviewers have pointed out, that's perhaps on the screenwriters, not on Ms. Riley, as there are some scenes in the novel in which kitty definitely shows her claws (most notably, flying into a temper and slapping Edgar while he's courting her, leading the reader to wonder why he wants to marry her). The fact that a few of these scenes have been omitted from the film does seem to result in a Cathy who is perhaps more sympathetic than she should be.

Tom Hardy doesn't disappoint as Heathcliff, and plays him very ably, I think, but while I wouldn't base a review on this, he just doesn't look like Heathcliff to me. It would be awesome to assemble a "Dream Team" of people from a variety of adaptations of "Wuthering Heights" -- my all-time favorite Heathcliff has always been Ralph Fiennes in the 1998 TNT TV adaptation, although I would have liked to have seen him paired with someone a little more feral than Juliette Binoche.

Andrew Lincoln's Edgar Linton was a pleasant surprise. Edgar is almost always portrayed as such an insufferable milquetoast, and this was the first Edgar I didn't spend the entire production wanting to slap.

--spoilers below--

Not only did I not mind the sex scenes, but I'll even go so far as to say I thought they were good choices. "Wuthering Heights" is a story with many undercurrents of carnality, even if these aren't expressly stated in the novel. I think people forget that in the era in which Bronte wrote the novel, sex was something that was absolutely *not* discussed in literature, or anywhere else for that matter. To a Victorian reader, the fact that Isabella is even pregnant with Heathcliff's child would have been shocking, even despite the fact that she's married to Heathcliff, because the reader knows that he not only doesn't love her, but he has also blatantly used her sexually to serve his own ends. In the novel, he's not just out for a rape or a casual fling -- he is deliberately ruining her to get back at her brother, and the societal implications of the destruction of a woman's virtue are perhaps lost in translation in today's mentality. The sex scenes are, in my opinion, relevant, and are not gratuitous ... besides one brief view of Mr. Lincoln's bum, there's nothing that would be considered over-the-top for a PG-13 rating. In fact, I thought that scene, while very brief, did a great job of conveying the character's frustration as he tries to assert himself in the only way he knows how, even though he clearly knows that he will only ever have the smallest and most disingenuous pieces of this woman's heart.

There are scenes in this film which are not in the novel, which is something I suppose would get in the way of a good review for a true purist of the book. As a lifelong fan of the book, I personally always wanted a glimpse of Cathy and Edgar's wedding, or of their wedding night, or lack thereof. Surely Bronte imagined these events -- the fact that they're not expressly included in the novel doesn't mean they couldn't reasonably appear in an intelligent adaptation of the novel.

I didn't miss Mr. Lockwood or indeed any of the scenes where he appears in the book. In the novel, he's entirely a plot device, a casual observer through whose eyes we see certain characters and events. There are plenty of other ways to do this in film, and while the idea of a "tenant" would have been familiar to Victorian readers, I don't think his presence would make as much sense in a modern adaptation. I did miss the omniscience of Nelly, however, as a narrator, and her role was greatly reduced in this treatment.

As many other reviewers have already noted, many adaptations omit entirely the "second generation" aspect of the story dealing with Catherine Jr., Linton and Hareton, and this version does attempt it. While it was a better treatment of this part of the novel than others that have attempted it (notably, the silliness of the "dual role" in the 1998 TNT version, in which Juliette Binoche donned a blonde wig to play Catherine Jr.), I've yet to see an adaptation that really conveyed this part of the story effectively. The reader never questions the continuance of the story in the novel, but this continues to seem to be an almost "unmakeable" part of the book.

The film is visually gorgeous -- I especially liked the opening credits flying over the moors -- and the art direction captures the haunting mood of the story. A particularly effective bonus was the dual view of what Heathcliff sees when he exhumes Cathy's body vs. what the audience sees.

I leave off a fifth star only because of the omission of some of the novel's most famous dialogue. When lines in a novel go so far as to become immortal in literature, filmmakers ought to make sure those lines are uttered, no matter how the story is structured or altered.
85 people found this helpful
M. FischerReviewed in the United States on November 3, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hauntingly beautiful, impeccable acting!
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As a lover of period drama, amazingly I had never seen a Wuthering Heights production, nor had I read the novel. So at last I took the plunge and happened to choose this production. You know when you've seen a great drama when you can't seem to get the story or the characters out of your mind for days on end. Tom Hardy is phenomenal, and Charlotte Riley is just as impressive. The chemistry between the two is bewitching and so real that one can literally taste the pain in their hearts from their tragic situation. This is not a feel-good program by any means. By the end, Tom Hardy portrays Heathcliff's despair and hopelessness so vividly that you wish there was a way to just produce Cathy once more to give him some semblance of relief. Wuthering Heights is a tangled web of tragedy, human cruelty, desperation and soul-wrenching love between two people who can never be properly joined together due to societal prejudice. I am a "happy-ending" movie watcher, but this production was so powerful, I was able to set aside my preferences and dive in head first into this tragic tale. Impeccably acted, beautifully scored, a phenomenal program.
10 people found this helpful
A. SpellerReviewed in the United States on August 2, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best version ever!!
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If I could give this movie 10 stars I would! It is so hauntingly beautiful. And it tells the full story of Kathy and HeathCliff tumultuous lives. The detail in the movie is what makes it so amazing. We get to see each relationship of all the characters and what made them become the way they are. It tells the whole story in a flawless dramatization. The characters are done so well and the story is told so well. I do not have one negative thing to say about it it is by far the best version ever of One of my favorite stories! Very very highly recommended.
13 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on March 8, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliantly Conceived and Presented
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I have watched every Wuthering Heights movie made; all more than once. This viewing is the 4th time to watch Tom Hardy absolutely killing it with his interpretation of Heathcliff. This totally different presentation, beginning with the mad Heathcliff and doing flashbacks, grabbed my attention from the first viewing. Of course, one of the main characters in any production of Wuthering Heights is the sweeping moor. The Cornwall accents top off this production. When Cathy begs Heathcliff, 'don't leave me, don't leave me...' with her authentic accent, it is pitiable and wrenching. But the performance that propels this to the top of my list, is the agonizing scream of a devastated Heathcliff upon confirmation of Cathy's death. Oh, My, God. I sob every time I am swept up in his pain and anguish. All in all, a major triumph.
10 people found this helpful
KelReviewed in the United States on September 15, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wish I had some laundry to fold
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I did a review of the BBC movie Emma last year and I gave it 5 stars because it was perfect for folding laundry. My household, like many, has a never ending mountain of laundry that is in need of being folded. One day, my wife and I decided to have a folding party and she just so happened to be watching Emma as I sat down to join her. The speed with which I was able to fold and complete my task was something only Homer could adequately describe in a third epic poem to stand next to the Iliad and the Odyssey. The only logical explanation for this tremendous achievement is the fact that Emma was playing in the background.
Fast forward to August 2020, we were on vacation and staying with my in-laws when my wife decided to share this movie adaptation of Emily Brontë's tragedy Wuthering Heights with all those present. Sadly, I was one of those present...I say sadly because 15 minutes into this movie, I was looking for laundry to fold. I kid you not, I could feel the same tension and drive rising and pulsing throughout my body urging and begging to complete a nearly impossible task. This movie screams (sometimes literally) FOLD LAUNDRY! Sadly, we had just recently arrived at my in-laws and there was nothing I could do nothing I could feed this beast that had awoken except for watch the movie. So much potential was wasted that day that I have been unable to bring myself to watch this movie a second time because I fear that there will not be enough laundry in the house. To those whose significant other has purchased this film, I write this as a warning to prepare you for what may come to pass. Prepare yourself for this movie. Good luck and Godspeed!
2 people found this helpful
LucysingsndancesReviewed in the United States on March 23, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
What a Horrible Story about Horrible People
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How did a story like this one ever become a classic? It's ghastly. Healthcliff and Cathy are both abominable, selfish people. They deserved all of the misery they endured, or should I say brought upon themselves. The way they treat the good people in their lives is revolting. I would say the saddest story is what Heathcliff does to Isabella. I see absolutely no value in this film unless you just want something depressing to watch or need a lesson in how not to live your life.
2 people found this helpful
M. JacobsReviewed in the United States on March 10, 2015
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not true enough to the novel for me...
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This was not true enough to the novel for me. I didn't like that they painted Heathcliff as a beaten down guy, who was good at one point. When I read the novel, I found no sympathy or redeeming characteristics in the character Heathcliff or even Catherine. Both were manipulative, mean spirited, and egocentric, using each other to their own end. I didn't even get that it was necessarily love between them, but rather a twisted, poisoned version of what obsession looks like. It was truly a read about some of the most despicable characters possible, who excelled at vengeance and tantrums. I think it was a missed opportunity to portray those characters in any other light or to try and give justification or explanation as to why they behaved that way. Sometimes characters (and people) are just bad. They're self centered, hateful, and unlikable for no good reason other than they want it that way. Not sure why that has to be sugar coated or modified. Emily Bronte understood that, which is why she wrote the characters that way.

If I were to have watched this without ever having read the novel, I would have probably found it entertaining, although what's with all the sex scenes?! This is PBS, not HBO.
53 people found this helpful
skyReviewed in the United States on April 16, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Takes liberties with the book.
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Wuthering Heights is a great, fast moving book. Why on earth did they chop up the story-- beginning in the middle, with Heathciffs' son? In the book the orphaned Heathcliff rescued by Cathy's father is a small child, just old enough to walk and talk (in a foreign language), small enough to be carried home, a distance of 60m miles., not a boy of ten. Cathy is described in the book as kenetic and mischievous; no way does that come through in this movie. They are not young adults when they spy on the Lintons, but still children, perhaps almost teens. And by the way, the story does not take place in Cornwall, but the moors of Southern Yorkshire, so that Cornish accent of Cathy's is just silly. I only watched some of the first episode. Disappointing. Especially all the invented dialogue. Why not just use the dialogue in the book and get actors that can get the point across.
2 people found this helpful
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