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Wuthering Heights Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Best version of the Gothic-romance revenge tale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids might try to watch this movie as an alternative to reading the novel for English class, but it only covers a portion of the overall story. And while it's framed as a ghost story, it's not really for young horror fans -- though the spooky angle might get some kids to sit down and watch a classic they wouldn't otherwise. Heathcliff has summed up a "romantic" hero for generations of schoolgirls, but he is rarely heroic in the traditional movie sense. Rather, he's vindictive and obsessed, and determined to make the woman he loves suffer because of his heartache. A lot of Heathcliff's negatives are attributed to his "gypsy" ancestry, a bit of racism and classed-based discrimination from the old days.

  • Families can talk about the dysfunctional relationship Heathcliff has with Cathy. How many of their problems are family and social pressures trying to force them apart -- she's aristocratic and he's a virtual peasant -- and how much of the trouble is their own making? How might they have found happiness together or separately? You could compare the movie's narrative with the Emily Bronte novel, which covers a longer time span and has many more twists and turns. Do you see any battle-scarred love affairs like this in the movies made today?

The good stuff
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    Messages: Heathcliff and Cathy are two wildly flawed heroic lovers. He's rash, vindictive, and often cruel. Cathy, though seemingly a "nicer" character, is still distracted by luxury and status. Heathcliff is constantly reminded of his "gypsy" birth by a class-bound society.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Characters are attacked by mastiff hounds. Heathcliff (as a boy) gets hit with a rock. As an adult he slaps Cathy (surprisingly daintily), and later breaks a window with his hand.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Wastrel brother Hindley drinks his way into chronic alcoholism, Heathcliff assisting. This is not glamorized, though, but clearly part of Heathcliff's revenge.

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