Brideshead Re-re–re-revisited…

Okay, so in order to write this post I have to confess something– I have an obsession with Brideshead.

I know a lot of you will be saying, “Oh, me too… nothing to be ashamed of..”

But no.  I have an OBSESSION.  I’ve read the novel about 20 times. I own the entire miniseries (on VHS, a legacy from my grandfather, who taped it from TV). I own and have read “Charles Ryder’s School days”, Waugh’s book that preceded the actual novel (more than once). I have the soundtrack to the miniseries on both vinyl and CD.  And to top it all off, I wrote my senior paper in high school about the dang thing.

I like it a LOT!

Not just because my mom made me watch it as a kid. Or because its lush and rich and aristocratic.

But because it really really ROCKS.  There are lines of real poetry. The characters  are so incredibly multifaceted.  And watching Charles and Julia and Sebastian change and grow as they aged, in different ways, had a profound effect on me in my twenties, as I tried to think about what it meant to get older, and how that related to pleasure and obligation– silly things like that.

It was a very different book for me when I was 18 than it was when I was 28.  As I grew into who I wanted to be as a partner, parent, person.

The beginning and the end of the book are so different. Youth and age, innocence and experience. exuberance and nostalgia and wisdom.


When I heard they were making a movie I got very excited. But this morning, watching the trailer, I was sad.

The film appears to be watchful from the get-go. In the book and the miniseries, eden turns.  But from the looks of this trailer, the snake is slithering around the garden before the movie even starts.  This won’t work for me.  Without the sacred, the profane just isn’t that interesting.

And this is so much a book about faith and grace, as well as our base instincts, our passions, our complexities..

When the book opens, Charles is looking at the house, remembering his youth there.  As the book proceeds, he moves from remembering with nostalgia what he calls “halcyon days” (his life at Oxford, his finding of the “low door in the wall”) to remembering with sadness the demise of his friend, and his awareness of the complications and dysfunctions of the Flyte/Marchmain clan.  His loss of youth, etc…

But without the halcyon days in arcadia, this will all fall very flat.  We don’t need another movie about the dirty underbelly of the bored and twisted British aristocracy.  The point about Brideshead is that you read it and you experience his process, his growing-up, his realizations.

I find it telling that the music in this film is SOOOOO different from the astoundingly beautiful score to the miniseries. It is ominous. It foretells.

In my case, it disappoints.

This may be a situation like Bridge to Terabithia, where the marketing is just awful and the film is not, in fact, the film being advertised. Maybe they did capture the youth and love and nostagia, the magic. The garden before the fall.

Let’s hope.

Here’s the new trailer, and bit of the old…  a scene I feel captures the loveliness, the dappled youth, the light…

What say you?

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4 Responses to “Brideshead Re-re–re-revisited…”

  1. Suzanne :: Adventures in Daily Living :: Says:

    I hated it! Simply hated it. Though I do admit that was 34 years ago. Perhaps I should give it another try . . . ?

  2. Collin Says:

    The original mini-series is brilliant television. The movie doesn’t look that great. Entertainment Weekly reviewed it this week and said the only thing to recommend is Emma Thompson, who basically holds the film together.

  3. Talia Says:

    That movie looks fantastic…I must find that novel. I know of Evelyn Waugh, though I’ve only read her short stories. Thank you.

  4. Horace Says:

    She’s a geezer mate!

    Film looks quite horrific (from the trailer and the documentary I watched) Dialogue has nothing Waughesque about it. Emma T explained that Charles is working class and therefore in awe of the Flytes. There’s no Anthony Blanche and Charles and Julia get off in venice (she goes with S and C!) Key dreadful line: You don’t love me, you just want to f**k my sister!

    profoundly idiotic!

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