?/5 Abismos de Pasion (Wuthering Heights, 1954)
I have never read Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, but apparently it was a favorite of the Surrealist group in Paris as a precursor to some of their own work, because it deals with a passion and obsession that completely overwhelms law and logic. As far as I know, this was Bunuel's only costume drama, though he occasionally adapted works of classic literature and set them in the present day. From the looks of it, Abismos de Pasion is a semi-faithful adaptation and full of some characteristic Bunuelian tropes, such as turning one of the characters (Linton, perhaps, here called Jose) into an amateur bug collector and the use of
Wagner's Tristan and Isolde in the final scene, which may be a Bunuel invention, where the Heathcliff character, called Alejandro here, breaks into Catherine's sarcophagus to be with her and hold her hand one last time. He is gunned down as he hallucinates her visage in a wedding dress.
Now for the hard part: I've only seen nine minutes of Abismos de Pasion. Why? Because I couldn't find suitable subtitles for it. I know, I know... I feel as though I should watch it without subtitles and just try to enjoy it that way--my Spanish skills might lend me about a 5% comprehension of the dialogue, but I could watch it for the "visual language," as the hardest core cinephiles call it, and perhaps, through the acting, blocking, and camera movements, come to understand most of the film.
But with twenty or more Bunuel films still to watch or rewatch and write reviews of, it seems pointless to spend a few hours on a film that only I and a handful of English-speaking IMDB obsessives (and, of course, the entire Spanish-speaking world, who probably don't read my blog) will ever watch and which my comprehension of will only be spotty at best.
There were a single set of English language subtitles on allsubs.org, but their timing, when applied to the .avi file containing the film, was so far off that I couldn't really tell who was saying what. There is a way in the free, excellent VLC video player to mess with the timing of subtitles and offset it a few seconds earlier or later, so that you can adjust bad subtitles to fit the film, but the problem I encountered, watching the first two scenes with the subtitles was that the offset even between scenes was different: the first scene started out 4 seconds too fast, then only two, then it was on, and the second scene was showing subtitles about 6 seconds too early, from what I could tell. The translations seemed correct, but the timing was awful.
This suggests another possible problem, as it seems weird that someone would make subtitles with the timing so far off: there may be two different cuts of the film floating around, one for which the subtitles are on time, and another for which they are off. As I remember, the video file that I downloaded was the only one I could find, though now I'll certainly try downloading another copy and seeing if the subtitles fit it. And although I would certainly watch a print with accurate subtitles, it seems troubling that I wouldn't necessarily know or be able to tell which print was the more "correct" original release.
To the best of my knowledge, this is also one of the films which is unavailable for sale anywhere with English subtitles.
I watched the final scene without subtitles and enjoyed it--maybe at the end of the project I'll just suck it up and watch the film as is. Until then, I'm chalking it up with the other unseeable films: two which are unavailable with English subs and must be purchased to be seen and two more which are just unavailable.
I have to admit that along with Godard, another favorite of mine, Bunuel is just one of those universally recognized masters of cinema whose films are easier to read about than to actually get ahold of and watch.
POST SCRIPT (CRISIS AVERTED):
My faith in the internet has just been restored. I found the correct subtitles at http://www.foriegnmoviesddl.com/2009/12/abismos-de-passion-wuthering-heights.html. Check this site out: tons of Bunuel available for download here!