‘Oh God, it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
What I’ve been re-watching for the All About the Brontes Challenge is the modern-day version of Wuthering Heights , or better the 2002 BBC series thus presented. Emily Bronte ’s evergreen romance has inspired many TV and film adaptations, including Robert Fuest's 1970 film starring Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff and Anna Calder-Marshall as Cathy. In 1992 Pewter Kosminsky revisited the story with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes in the lead roles and the latest version is quite recent, 2009 . I posted about the several adaptions I’ve seen so far in A WUTHERING WEEKEND .
In this loosely –based- on modern version Heathcliff is a young working -class woman called Carol Bolton, who is in love with her middle class neighbour, Andrew. So the class relationship between Bronte's uncultured Heathcliff and the upper class Cathy has been reversed. And it is middle-class Andrew's parents who want him to leave Cathy and go to university.
The three-part TV drama is SPARKHOUSE (2003) , filmed in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, northern England - not far from Haworth, where Emily Bronte grew up. Producer Derek Wax believed the story's themes are perennial: "The battle between passionate love and economic necessity; following your heart, or doing something expedient, or socially desirable. These questions are the same in the 21st century as they were in the 19th."
• Carol Bolton is a feisty, passionate and reckless young woman who life has dealt a raw deal. She lives in poverty-stricken Sparkhouse Farm with a drunken and abusive father, Richard. Carol is determined to protect those closest to her - younger sister Lisa and her soul mate since childhood, Andrew Lawton.
• Andrew and Carol's love is not a teenage crush. Their passion is urgent, powerful, enormous, like the landscape they share; the raw energy of the wind, the awesome loneliness of the moors. Yet all of this is in danger of being destroyed when a Pandora's Box of secrets and lies is forced open. Andrew's parents are strongly against the match and ensure that he goes away to college. Andrew is frightened by what he discovers about Carol and leaves...
• After another violent attack of her father against her, Carol runs away from home with her younger sister, Lisa, in order to protect the latter from their father's violence.
• (After three years) Andrew has tried to forget his passion for Carol and is back to his family home married to a sweet young woman he met at university . (Parallelism with Wuthering Heights : Catherine’s marriage to Linton)
• Carol too is back : her father's farmhand John Standring, has searched and found her in order to inform that her father is seriously ill , Carol’s rage and disappointment are unrestrainable (Heathcliff's furious reaction to Cathy's marriage)
• After the death of her father and since Andrew has also had a baby from the woman he married, Carol seeks solace with her father's farmhand, tender and caring John Standring, and works with him to protect her family (Lisa) and the farm. (Heathcliff ‘s marriage to Isabella Linton)
• But the bonds which have always linked Andrew and Carol cannot be easily cut ... as it happens in Wuthering Heights between Catherine and Heathcliff, their love will survive tragedy and even death.
(Andrew reading Wuthering Heights to his pupils)
I loved and still love this series a lot, though at first I was a bit disappointed because I couldn't find as much Wuthering Heights as I expected buying the DVD in 2006. This modern-day retelling of Wuthering Heights is a gripping compelling story, with memorable characters and a complex plot. Heathcliff/Carol Bolton, the daughter of an abusive, alcoholic father who molests her, is incredibly well portrayed by Sarah Smart ( who had been Cathy Jr in 1999 version of Wuthering Heights). Andrew and Carol, Cathy and Heathcliff , are torn apart by the upper class family of the boy and this will condemn them to unhappiness. The subplots and supporting characters are all very contemporary with contemporary conflicts and passions. Some viewers may be confused by the gender-switch in the story or disturbed by the bluntness of some scenes and dialogues. But I'm convinced , instead, that Sparkhouse is worth seeing .
The Cast• Richard Bolton - Alun Armstrong
• Carol Bolton - Sarah Smart
• Carol Bolton - Sarah Smart
• Lisa Bolton - Abigail James
• Andrew Lawton - Joseph McFadden
• John Standring - Richard Armitage
• Kate Lawton - Celia Imrie
• Paul Lawton - Nicholas Farrell
About me and John Standring
You've seen Richard Armitage in the pictures above as John Standring (the Isabella Linton of this story) , one of his most touching interpretations. I must confess I didn't notice him the first time I saw this series, 'cause my attention was focused on the main hero that is Andrew /Joe MacFadden and ... well... John was a very sweet lovely guy but we didn't hit it off at the time! Then, when I saw Richard as John Thornton in North and South in 2008 for the first time, I came to "notice" him and started searching for information about that unknown (then!) Mr Armitage. I discovered he had worked in Sparkhouse but I couldn't recall him. I neither recognized him immediately when I played Sparkhouse again in search for broody Thornton! Now I would catch the glimpse of RA even with a mask on his handsome face, I bet. And I'd recognize his voice among thousands. So ... it was not love at first sight, you see! Now, I must admit, John Standring is one of my favorite among Richard's characters.
I want to leave you with three final caps....
Picture 1. Lisa Bolton (Carol's younger sister in Sparkhouse) and John Standring (Carol's husband in the same series) - (2003)
Pictures 2 and 3
Guy and Meg in Robin Hood 3 (2009)
Lovely couple, aren't they?