Emily, a biopic film about Emily Bronte, by Frances O’Connor
10 January 2023
Although regarded as one of the greatest English language books, Wuthering Heights, the haunting 1847 novel of British writer Emily Brontë, was met with a mixed reception when published under Brontë’s non de plume, Ellis Bell. Critics hailed Brontë’s story of star crossed lovers Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw — her only published novel — as original, imaginative, and intriguing, but were shocked by the book’s depictions of violence, domestic abuse, sexual passion, and its host of narcissistic characters.
Brontë’s novel later went on to spawn numerous film, stage, and television adaptations, along with British musician Kate Bush’s 1978 single of the same name, which it could be argued is perhaps the most memorable interpretation of the Gothic fiction classic.
Despite Brontë’s literary prominence, little is known about her personal life. She was said to be reserved and shy, possibly explaining the lack of detailed writing about her. This dearth of knowledge was one of the challenges facing British born Australian actor and writer, turned filmmaker Frances O’Connor, during the production of her debut feature, Emily, trailer, leaving O’Connor to speculate about the finer details of Brontë’s life.
While Emily explores Brontë’s relationship with her famous sisters Charlotte, and Anne, and the writing of Wuthering Heights, it also portrays an apparent, doomed, love affair between Brontë and William Weightman, a local member of the clergy. While there is no evidence of any romance between Brontë and Weightman in reality, O’Connor makes the tantalising suggestion the supposed affair inspired the characters of Heathcliff and Catherine, and possibly Wuthering Heights itself.
Emily opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 12 January 2023, though if you are in Sydney, and move quickly, you may be able to score tickets to a preview screening at the Westpac OpenAir cinema, on the shore of Sydney harbour tomorrow evening, Wednesday 11 January 2023.