Seen last night with big_daz
at The Light.
I haven't read the book of Brideshead
, but I fairly regularly catch bits of the classic Granada TV adaptation
on ITV3. In fact, over the last couple of weekends, I've been watching it systematically, since - in a fairly obvious scheduling move - they have been re-broadcasting it from the beginning on Sunday afternoons to coincide with the release of the film.
Pretty much every review of the film I've seen has said the same thing, and I can't help but agree - it's slavishly indebted to the TV series, but doesn't manage to improve upon it. Sebastian in particular seemed the weak link to me - whereas in the TV series, he comes across as complex and tragic and fantastically enticing, here he just seemed like your average petulant teenager. Perhaps because the development of their relationship wasn't given sufficient screen-time, it was hard to understand why Charles Ryder was particularly interested in him; and despite the fact that they actually kiss on screen, the chemistry between them remained far less homoerotically-charged than the one which Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews created.
Still, that said, Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon as respective matriarch and patriarch of the Flyte dynasty did an excellent job - as, indeed, did
(oops!) Hayley Attwell as a self-possessed yet vulnerable Julia. And as for the location footage! Between Oxford
and Castle Howard
, the only place I hadn't visited was whatever anonymous London street they used to house the Ryders of Paddington - and really, I have walked down enough London streets to get the general picture. It was like a tour of some of the richest and most cherished parts of my life.
Tom Wolfe famously dubbed the Granada TV series (along with Upstairs Downstairs
) 'sheer plutography'
, but it seems to me that this is only true on a superficial level. Fundamentally, the story of Brideshead
is about a (relatively) normal person becoming fascinated and seduced by a close-knit group of individuals who are utterly different from him, and whom he can never quite connect to or integrate with, no matter how hard he tries. The divisions between him and them in this case happen to be wealth and Catholicism - but they could equally well be poverty and Judaism, or any other combination of strong social identifiers. The story, and the tragedy, would be the same.
Consider the book to have moved up a notch on my 'to read' list.Click here to view this entry with minimal formatting.