Belfast Telegraph

Arnold premiers Wuthering Heights

A film adaptation of Wuthering Heights starring a black actor as Heathcliff has been unveiled at the Venice Film Festival.

The movie has been made by British director Andrea Arnold, who described the experience creating a new film version of the 250-year-old Emily Bronte novel as "a very difficult journey".

"I just had some sort of obsession with it," Andrea said ahead of the film's world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.

Heathcliff is portrayed by a black actor for the first time on the big screen, by newcomer Solomon Glave, as a young boy, and by 25-year-old James Howson, who has no acting experience and plays the older Heathcliff.

In the film, the young Heathcliffe is taken in by Cathy's family. Cruelty reigns, and young Cathy prefers running up the moors with Heathcliff than staying inside, which often leads to beatings for the boy.

Solomon thanked Andrea for putting faith in him, saying tearfully: "That was a big thing for me, a big massive thing".

Andrea twice won the Cannes film festival jury prize for more modern stories - Fish Tank in 2009 and Red Road in 2006 - and an Oscar for best action short in 2005 for Wasp.

In the case of both the younger and older versions of the protagonists, the director selected a cast featuring unknown actors to portray the all-encompassing, tragic love story. Kaya Scodelario, best known for Skins, plays Cathy.

She said she was particularly taken by James, who plays the older Heathcliff, saying: "He has an incredible presence and dignity, and looks beautiful on screen, like a young Jimi Hendrix."

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