Brontës

This autumn new adaptations of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights will hit cinemas. After our long infatuation with Jane Austen, Matthew Sweet asks whether the Brontës’ time has come again

Matthew Sweet

Cary Fukunaga. Sounds pretty hardcore, doesn’t he? If you’ve seen his name on a credit roll, it was probably attached to his first feature: Sin Nombre, the story of a teenager on the run from the Mara Salvatrucha, a Mexican gang with pistols in their waistbands, tattoos across their faces and heroin in their bloodstreams. So what’s Cary’s next movie? A toughnut melodrama of the favelas? A bloody exposure of organised crime in Honduras? Nope, it’s Jane Eyre. In the tea-rooms of Haworth, they must be chewing the gingham in disbelief.

Fukunaga, however, is not the only film director with an edgy, arty reputation to have just grabbed a Brontë sister with both hands. Andrea Arnold, whose Fish Tank followed the sharks and small fry of an Essex council estate, is about to release an adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Drawing on those lines in the novel that describe its anti-hero as “dark-skinned gypsy in aspect and a little lascar,” she has cast an unknown black British actor as Heathcliff.

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Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre: Cary Fukunaga’s new film attempts to capture some of the unignorable harshness of the novel

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