In 1845 at Haworth on the Yorkshire moors sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and their father, a retired parson with failing eye-sight, are continually troubled by their drunken, irresponsible brother Branwell, who wastes every opportunity given him to become an artist. Charlotte fears for her own sight whilst Emily seeks refuge in writing about the imaginary land of Gondor but all three are fearful for their future should their menfolk die. Charlotte is impressed by Emily's work and encourages her to write a novel, inspired by a story told her by a former employer, which will become 'Wuthering Heights' All three sisters write novels, loosely based on their own experiences using androgynous masculine pen-names which are ultimately accepted for publication. Their success allows them to identify their true gender and to save the roof over their heads but Branwell's self-indulgence leads to his early death and both Emily and Anne succumb to sickness, dying young. An end title ...Written by
don @ minifie-1
I've read all the Bronte novels, studied Emily's poetry in college, and been to Haworth several times. (Tip: if you ever visit, don't skip the hike to Top Withens-the place Emily based Wuthering Heights on. You won't get the true Bronte experience unless you hike on the moors.) I've sat next to Charlotte and Emily's graves and tried to imagine life in that place in the 19th century.
This movie encapsulated and synthesized every emotion, thought, and feeling I experienced while in Haworth, at the parsonage museum, reading, and hiking on the moors. It positively reeks of authenticity. The sisters form the nucleus of the story while the ancillary characters orbit them at just the right distance. Their quiet strength and desperation depicts the plight of three women smarter than anyone around them in an age when their brains were considered by men to be more similar to monkeys than their own. Each sister is fully actuated and differentiated as a stand-alone character, individual in her own right.
I finished the movie with a determination to visit their home again and re-read all of their work. How many movies inspire their viewers to travel several thousand miles, spend several thousand dollars, and invest scores of hours in reading?
I loved that the movie required something from the viewer. You can't watch this film passively. It takes scrutiny, concentration, and contemplation; in other words, things most modern movies don't require in the least. That's why this movie stays with you days after viewing it. No wonder I forget almost everything about many movies I see hours after watching them; they demand nothing but sensational response, something that ebbs almost immediately after arousal.
My one complaint is in the sound mixing. The background music swells with such amplitude in places that the dialogue is almost impossible to make out without closed captioning. I eventually put in my Bluetooth ear buds to help me discern the dialogue (admittedly, Yorkshire accents are tough for Americans to decipher in the first place, but as I mentioned earlier, the effort required helps galvanize the viewer into deeper concentration and engagement).
Bravo PBS. You rarely disappoint.
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