The Same Old Story

The Arts

Recently I mentioned the American director who’d had enough of staging safe, dull British theatre here in London, and how he is planning to leave for Paris. Now comes news that the BBC and Film4′s next big film projects are going to be…’Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’. It seems incredible that just when more and more writers are finding themselves unable to get published, when fewer and fewer good films are coming from the UK, the same old stories are being dragged out and dusted off for the edification of a disinterested public.

‘Wuthering Heights’ is being made by the company that brought us the stupifyingly dull ‘Nowhere Boy’ (nicknamed ‘No-one Saw’ in our office) and is helmed by Andrea Arnold, director of the cliche-riddled tower block miseryfest ‘Fish Tank’. Christine Langan, the head of BBC Films, acknowledged that revisiting classics is a fraught business. “There will be people saying, ‘Why the hell are they doing that all over again?’.”

In The Times today she appears to not to answer her own question. The answer, Christine, is that a combination of creative bankruptcy, lack of vision, fear of the new, playing safe, and a middle-class desire to spoon-feed Englishness to the masses forces our film institutions to regurgitate books that weren’t really very good in the first place back on our screens a century and a half later.

The picture shows ‘The Semaphore Wuthering Heights’ from Monty Python, a joke made forty years ago about the BBC’s milking of classics.

4 comments on “The Same Old Story”

  1. Mary says:

    Not Wuthering Jane again, please.

  2. A Jane Eyre by the director of Sin Nombre sounds slightly more interesting. Slightly.

  3. I.A.M. says:

    I had to hit the Internet Movie Database to remind me what Nowhere Boy and Fish Tank were about. This, given that I’m a Beatles fan, and double-page adverts were run in Mojo Music Magazine (to which I subscribe), speaks volumes about how much trade the first film did. “No-One Cared” might be the new name for it.

    Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights did not require looking up, and the image at the top of the post was immediately recognized. The first two are familiar due to the sledgehammer-like way they’ve been repeatedly programmed in such a fashion as to eliminate all thoughts of new stories from our souls. The last was such a piece of brilliant summation of an already pathetic lack of programming ability, that it is impossible to forget. Thank goodness Python stopped once it dried-up (although Cleese did leave when he thought it had, and then return to help close up the shop, so perhaps even they went on a bit?).

  4. Ken says:

    From the stage production “Withering Looks” – two Bronte sisters are chatting:
    “Filth and blasphemy – they’re calling my book filth and blasphemy”
    “I still think Wuthering Heights is a better title”

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