Wuthering Heights

Rivette transposes the first chapters of Wuthering Heights from the Yorkshire moors to the equally stark Cévennes circa 1931, and translates Brontë's elemental tale into an exploration of tenuous boundaries-between classes, between reality and dream, between viewer and viewed. The teenage protagonists Catherine and Roch (Heathcliff renamed) are initially at one with the flinty beauty of the landscape, seen gamboling across the garrigue and creeping up from the woods to the neighbors' fenced tennis court like animals observing the humans in their cages. But Catherine is seduced by civilization, and eventually awakens as a wife in a pastel dream of affluence, triggering the nightmare that is Roch's revenge. Through it all, the camera keeps its distance, watching and listening to performances that are less expressions of impetuous passion than choreographed movements in space. Rivette's approach is elliptical-yet also entirely sincere, lending intensity to oneiric sequences of voyeurism and violence, and making the hallucinatory ending surprisingly potent.
—Juliet Clark

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