Andrea Arnold offers a raw take on 'Wuthering Heights'
But it's not so isolated around that particular area anymore. We couldn't find anywhere that you couldn't see things on the horizon. So we had to go further. We went to the North York Moors. And there were very few buildings, real places — I always wanted a real location — that were truly isolated. It wasn't like I had lots of choice.
But I really like that place [where we filmed]. It was a very difficult place to work, though, no doubt. Everyone who worked on it said it's one of the hardest things they've ever done, just physically. We couldn't get vehicles there so we had to carry all of the cameras up the hills.
SFBG The film has gotten some attention for your casting choices — black actors play Heathcliff at various ages, and race is a recurring theme in the film. What motivated those decisions?
AA When I looked at the book, and all the descriptions of Heathcliff, I really felt that he wasn't white. I was really surprised, after looking closely at how he was described, why nobody has actually done that before. I think if you're being really faithful and truthful to the descriptions, that he's more Asian than he is African. The fact that he's called a gypsy, the Romany gypsies of that time would have originally come from Asia, and they're very dark-skinned.
But after sort of investigating a bit more, I thought what really matters is that he's different. I began to realize that Heathcliff is really Emily Brontë, and that she felt different for being female. There's something about the book that makes me think that's a large part of what it's about.
SFBG The material may be a change for you, but the film is still shot like your other films, using a hand-held camera. Why do you prefer this method?
AA I didn't think about making it in any different way than I normally do. I like hand-held cameras because if I'm working with non-actors, and there were lots of non-actors in this one, I don't like them to feel restricted. If you put cameras on tripods then it sort of harnesses things. You have to start telling people where to stand, and hit marks. That's something that I don't enjoy.
Also, I didn't see any reason why a period film shouldn't have hand-held camera. I thought, just because we've seen lots of period films where they're all very respectful, that doesn't mean that's how I have to be. I didn't feel that I had to follow any sort of traditions. I just felt like I was trying to see it in my own way, and I didn't let myself be inhibited by what had gone before. *
WUTHERING HEIGHTS opens Fri/19 in Bay Area theaters.