World War II. Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode), in his civilian life, rose out of his middle class London background, which includes being an atheist and having a distant relationship with his eccentric father, to become an up and coming artist. He is currently an Army officer, who is stationed at a makeshift camp set up at Brideshead estate before imminently getting shipped into battle. The locale, which is not unfamiliar to him, makes him reminisce about what ended up being his doomed relationship with Brideshead's owners, the Flytes, an ostentatiously wealthy family. Charles first met Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw) when they both were students at Oxford, where Sebastian surprisingly welcomed Charles into his circle of equally wealthy, somewhat stuck-up, and flamboyant friends. Charles ended up getting caught up in Sebastian's family struggles, where Sebastian used excessive alcohol to deal with the pain resulting from his family relationships. Although Charles and Sebastian were more ...Written by
Filmed in summer 2007, one of the rainiest summers on record in England. The crew suffered rainfall at nearly every location, and even had to contend with rain while on-location in Venice. See more »
In Lord Marchmain's deathbed scene, Fr. Mackay imparts absolution while Charles Ryder and members of the family are in attendance. Absolution is never imparted in public in this way. The others would have been asked to step out. Moreover, the Latin form of the absolution given, although it is the correct traditional one, is badly mispronounced and contains several errors in the details of the Latin text. See more »
[Internal monologue while walking out of Brideshead Castle]
If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name: Charles Ryder. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be. On second thought, one emotion remains my own. Alone among the borrowed and the second-hand, as pure as that faith from which I am still ...
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Is this film a worthy interpretation of "Brideshead Revisited"? Well, up to a point, Lord Copper, as another one of Evelyn Waugh's characters was wont to say.
First, scriptwriter Andrew Davies, a past master of adaptation of great and not-so great literary works, has put the focus on the Charles and Julia love story rather than the Charles and Sebastian 'romantic friendship' as Cara, Lord Marchmain's Italian mistress puts it. The religious aspect is dealt with almost incidentally.
Second, Lady Marchmain, as played by Emma Thompson, is a very grim person with total emotional control over her children and whose particular Christian beliefs means that she is indifferent to their suffering as to her this life is a mere precursor to the glorious afterlife the same attitude as a 9/11 hi-jacker in fact. She has none of the sweetness that Claire Bloom brought to the 1981 TV series.
Third, some of the performances owe a good deal to those in the TV series, especially Matthew Goode as Charles who has an uncanny likeness to Jeremy Irons. And of course Castle Howard reprises its role as Brideshead. Some characters were reduced to ciphers; for example Bridey who played by Simon Jones stole several scenes in 1981 but the part is reduced to a non-entity here. Michael Gambon, a consummate actor, gives us a new take on Lord Marchmain to compare with Lawrence Olivier's earlier version.
Overall, though, I was left with the impression this film has not much to say which is new. Like the recent feature film version of "Pride and Prejudice", it gives a broad outline of the story but misses out much of the rich context provided by the minor characters. Oh, read the book instead.
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