Tenant of Wildfell Hall: film vs. book


About a month or so ago, I finished reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Just a couple of days ago I watched the BBC Tenant of Wildfell Hall film (or mini-series, really) from 1996. Normally reading  a book first means I can’t enjoy the movie, because I’m constantly comparing it to the book. But this film seemed pretty okay in comparison 🙂

Something I think might have been a bad move was to show Helen running away from Arthur at the very beginning of the movie. I think it would’ve been very easy to make the story just as dramatic without knowing where Helen came from, just like the book. But I realize that this was a mini-series, so starting it like that could’ve really grasped the attention of viewers.

There was one thing I really didn’t like about the film: when Helen went back to Grassdale to nurse the sick Arthur, Gilbert visited her there shortly thereafter. And Gilbert and Arthur met! They weren’t properly introduced, but they still saw each other and such. I didn’t like that because it is very off-base from the novel. This is just an example that a lot of the book was put out of order to make the movie, which doesn’t bug me because it all pretty much ended up the same.

There were other little things that were different: Arthur & Annabella’s affair was never outed; little Arthur at some point killed his pet bird after a hunting expedition with his father; there was some governess for little Arthur, a Miss Myers (which I don’t remember from the book, but she could’ve been in there and I just overlooked it); and Helen’s uncle was practically non-existent, just mentioned a couple times.

Oh, and instead of Gilbert hastening away to stop the gossiped impending marriage of Helen, only to find out that it is Mr. Lawrence marrying Miss Hargrave we have Helen returning to Wildfell at the end of the novel, seeing a wedding when driving through town. That wedding is made in so many ways to appear that Gilbert married Eliza Millward, when it was Richard Wilson marrying her.

But the film is still very nicely done and I would recommend it to anyone who has the 2.5 hours to watch it.

I would, however, not recommend watching this movie in lieu of reading the book if you have to do a report on it 🙂
It’s good, but not “right”.


2 thoughts on “Tenant of Wildfell Hall: film vs. book

  1. Lucia says:

    I don’t like the idea of Gilbert visiting Helen when she’s back at Grassdale. I’m definitely going to watch it though. 🙂

  2. terosenbaum says:

    Miss Myers is in the book (I finished it recently), Arthur brings her home from one of his trips abroad and it is *strongly* hinted that she is his mistress. It’s after finding out that they are together in the same house with her that Helen leaves him. Just another detail making him an even more disgusting character! haha.

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