Perspectives: The Brilliant Brontes was on ITV  at the end of March and it is still available in streaming on their iPlayer. 

What was really touching while watching it was how deeply the commenter, actor Sheila Hancock,  was connected both with the Brontes and with their works. 

Watch the clip I've added for you below to get an idea. You can feel how moved she is, her voice broken more than once and eyes filled with tears . It is as if she is undertaking an honest journey into herself while visiting the places where the Bronte sisters lived, wrote, dreamt and died.

Impossible not to be  moved by the tragic series of deaths their official biographies are charachterized by, but following Sheila Hancock in her gripping journey to Yorkshire and into herself has been much more than that.

She starts the documentary remembering how much in love she was with Laurence Olivier’s Heathcliff as a young girl and how she felt betrayed when later on she re- read the book Emily Bronte had written. 

Older and wiser she realised that Hollywood had misled her, Wuthering Heights never was a sentimental  love story and Heathcliff is far from the soppy romantic lead Laurence Olivier portrays in the film. She discovered Emily Bronte’s masterpiece was a dark study of the wild extremes of human obsession and her childhood heartthrob was a vicious psychopath.

Then Sheila confesses that Emily’s elder sister, Charlotte , wrote another book that tranfixed her:  "a shocking Gothic romance",  she calls Jane Eyre, one of the best selling books of all times.
She finally mentions Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as one of the most brilliant Victorian novels, which scandalized the readers of that age, but is now widely considered  as  an early feminist  classic.
She rates each of the Brontes sisters among the greatest novelists she has ever read. So, differently from many documentaries I have seen, this becomes quite an  emotional experience and not a detached, objective transmission of historical and literary information. 

I want to leave you with a question which is the same Sheila Hancock says she has been left with even after her journey, one which I’ve wondered about more than once myself: how did three spinsters who spent most of their lives in a remote parsonage on the edge of the moors come to write books that we still find shocking, erotic, profoundly moving and quite wonderful?

You can see the whole documentary on ITV player (15 days left)

No comments: