In Francis O’Connor’s “Emily” What is fact and what is fiction?

Editor’s Note: The following contains Emily spoilers.

Finally, Francis O’Connorhis directorial debut, EmilyIt plays in US cinemas. Anyone who has heard of the film probably knows that it is about Emily Brontë, the author of the 1847 English literary classic Wuthering Heightsand stars sex education Actress Emma Mackey. The narration follows Emily (Emma Mackey) in the years leading up to her death when she entered into a romantic relationship with the local church minister, William Weightman (Oliver Cohen-Jackson) and went on to write the magnum opus that made her a household name. What audiences may not know is that this isn’t a traditional biopic – the film is a heavily fictionalized, imaginary version of Brontë’s life, with a small number of important historical facts to back it up.

What’s true in “Emily”

Emma Mackey as Emily Bronte in Emily
Image from Warner Bros.

There’s enough truth in there Emily to prevent the story from becoming completely unrecognizable. Just like Brontë in real life, Emily has three siblings in the film: older sister Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling), younger sister Anne (Amelia Gething) and Brother Branwell (Fion Weisskopf). The three live with their father Patrick (Adrian Dunbar), a widower after the death of her mother, Maria Branwell, in 1821. Emily, of course, writes Wuthering Heights in the 1840s and It is also noted that Charlotte is a teacher and a writer. The picture is structured around specific events that really happened, such as Emily and Charlotte traveling to Brussels and Branwell studying at the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as his addiction problems and early death. Emily also died tragically young, which the film states in its opening scene before sinking into flashbacks.

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Emily’s introverted, eccentric personality in the film may be quite accurate as historical sources have viewed her as reserved and reclusive. Emily’s love interest in the film Weightman was also a real person and was a minister in Brontë Parish. But there’s no evidence the real Emily Brontë and Weightman ever had close acquaintances or romantic relationships; Instead, historians sometimes speculate about a possible connection between Weightman and Anne. This is the film’s biggest departure from reality.

“Emily’s love story is pure fanfiction

In Emily, The title character and Weightman share a secret, forbidden romantic and sexual relationship that ends in tragedy. Afraid of being exposed — and disturbed by Emily’s dark, “ungodly” writings — Weightman suddenly denies his feelings for Emily, ending their tryst, leaving her heartbroken and adamant she will never write again. When Emily plans to go to Brussels with Charlotte, Weightman texts Emily expressing his regret and asking her to keep writing and stay in Yorkshire. But he passes the letter to Branwell, who refuses to deliver it to Emily; The two never meet again, and Weightman dies shortly after. When Emily returns from Brussels, Branwell is gravely ill and leaves the letter to her before his death; The content inspires Emily to pick up her pen and write Wuthering Heights.

None of this happened in real life, and the inclusion of romance seems like a way to make Brontë’s life more appealing to contemporary audiences who desire sex scenes and love stories with conventionally attractive actors. Not everyone will appreciate this choice; It’s easy to get out of the film’s feel that the creators may have doubted that an equally interesting story could be told without centering on a man and a heteronormative relationship. It is also incorrectly credited Wuthering Heights to Weightman, whose lasting influence inspired Emily to tell the story – surely a woman without romantic experience would not be able to write a novel full of passion. It is arguably inherently problematic to speculate publicly about the private life of a historical woman, especially since Brontë is no longer alive to set the record straight.

Who was the real Emily Brontë?

Emma Mackey as Emily Bronte in Emily
Image via Bleecker Street

Brontë’s true history is quite mysterious, and there are few sources that provide much information. It seems that when she was not writing, she often tutored or studied, but romance was absent from her life. Illness and grief are no strangers, and it’s perhaps surprising that the filmmakers didn’t find enough groundwork for a compelling story that’s rooted in Brontë’s reality. The one behind Emily clearly saw a lack of biographical content to adjust to, and a hiatus in her personal life influenced her to imagine what could have been, but due to her lonely nature and, more importantly, societal expectations, it is unlikely that she ever had a relationship that was resembling in the movie Emily and Weightman. Scenes like Emily and Branwell frightening a nearby family and Emily being obsessed with her mother in an impersonation game also have no basis in real life.

At the end of Emily, Emily’s death motivates Charlotte to start writing herself; This is historically inaccurate as Charlotte was already a writer prior to Emily’s death, publishing collections of poetry with her sisters jane eyre has actually been published before Wuthering Heights. Overall, the film doesn’t attempt to explore issues surrounding the Brontë being writers in the Victorian era, and doesn’t even show how Wuthering Heights was originally published under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell. However, this was a missed opportunity to portray the internal and external challenges the sisters would have faced before and after being revealed as women – though Wuthering Heights was only published under Emily’s real name after her death.

Emily is a historical romance disguised as a biopic

Emily Mackey and Alexandra Dawling as Emily and Charlotte Bronte
Image via Bleecker Street

All this is not to say Emily is bad at all. The performances are outstanding and the chemistry between Mackey and Cohen-Jackson is sizzling. The sombre English landscapes and slightly unsettling score are both highlights in a film that is at once intimate and haunting; think Jane Austen but without a happy ending. If Emily is worth a watch depends on what you want to make of it. When you’re here, remember aesthetics, gothic vibes, and doomed romance Wuthering Heights, you will probably love it. But if you’re a stickler for historical accuracy or are looking for knowledge about Brontë beyond what’s on their Wikipedia page, this may not be for you. At the very least, the film is sure to be devoured by fans of the “hot priest” trope and bring the Brontës’ works to new audiences. In Francis O’Connor’s “Emily” What is fact and what is fiction?

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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