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on 28 June 2015
I've just watched the whole of this magical dramatisation , over three or four sittings, for the third time since I first saw it on TV back in the '80's. It has again been a transcendent experience for me - I found myself applauding at the end of the final episode - which is why I feel compelled to add my little voice to the chorus of praise . A gilded inter-war world of aristocratic England - recalled by the war-weary Charles Ryder in 1944 - is magically evoked , closely following Evelyn Waugh's beautiful novel, by an outstanding serialisation which was first screened by Granada in the autumn of 1981. Not only is it impossible for me to find any fault with the production - it is , as so many others have said, indeed a genuine masterpiece, shimmering with brilliance in every aspect. The understated authority of Jeremy Irons's performance and narration as Charles Ryder, the extraordinary power of Anthony Andrews as the tormented Sebastian Flyte, and Diana Quick's amazing performance as his sister - these are the three 'starring roles' ; but the whole cast is outstanding - Simon Jones's cold pomposity as Brideshead, Stephane Audran's beauty and poise as Cara - one could go on. However the acting is merely one part - the locations, the shooting, the script, the period details, the pace, Geoffrey Burgon's gorgeous score...all these and other ingredients blend to produce an ambience and power which is for me unequalled. A majestic piece of television, and if you know someone who still looks down in snooty disdain at the 'telly', get them to watch this. Incidentally, this 'Collector's Edition' DVD box set is an appropriately tasteful product, replete with attractive photographs and Special Features.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 February 2012
Maybe I was over-hyped. It's happened to me before (with "Citizen Kane" all I could think on 1st viewing
was "this is the greatest movie of all time?!?" 2nd time around, I realized it arguably was.)

So, while this received almost only ecstatic praise and rave reviews, my feelings on 1st viewing were
slightly more tempered.

There are some wonderful performances throughout, and the early episodes beautifully capture a world of
tenderly close relationships between collage aged boys that are so intimate that the unanswered question
of `is it sexual?' becomes almost moot.

The series is never boring, although each piece is separate enough that there isn't a conventional build up
of momentum. Not a complaint, I actually found that interesting and different.

The big fly in the ointment for me, was that, In the end, while I was always interested I was rarely moved.
In perhaps my own failing, I had a hard time with some of the overtly religious elements of the climax, with
characters making decisions and discoveries I found emotionally incomprehensible.

I was also bothered by the fact that Sebastian, so much the core of the first third is basically abandoned as
a character, with only occasional expository speeches to tell us what happened to him.

Further there is an obsessive infatuation with the upper class that borders on creepy. Waugh reportedly believed
in the natural superiority of upper class British society, and disliked "outsiders" like Americans and Jews. I felt
that attitude throughout, but was bothered that the film neither questioned or explored it.

Jeremy Irons is brilliant for half the series, but in the later half I felt him working at playing `older', indeed coming
off as older than the character is supposed to be, and more emotionally flat than needed.

But those complains aside, as a capturing of the sadness of life, how the joy of youth gives way to the confusion
and loss of middle age it is effective and intelligent. If I wasn't blown away I was still glad to have seen it.

I need to watch it again to see if I missed a masterpiece, or I'm just out of sync with the world on this one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 February 2012
Maybe I was over-hyped. It's happened to me before (with "Citizen Kane" all I could think on 1st viewing
was "this is the greatest movie of all time?!?" 2nd time around, I realized it arguably was.)

So, while this received almost only ecstatic praise and rave reviews, my feelings on 1st viewing were
slightly more tempered.

There are some wonderful performances throughout, and the early episodes beautifully capture a world of
tenderly close relationships between collage aged boys that are so intimate that the unanswered question
of `is it sexual?' becomes almost moot.

The series is never boring, although each piece is separate enough that there isn't a conventional build up
of momentum. Not a complaint, I actually found that interesting and different.

The big fly in the ointment for me, was that, In the end, while I was always interested I was rarely moved.
In perhaps my own failing, I had a hard time with some of the overtly religious elements of the climax, with
characters making decisions and discoveries I found emotionally incomprehensible.

I was also bothered by the fact that Sebastian, so much the core of the first third is basically abandoned as
a character, with only occasional expository speeches to tell us what happened to him.

Further there is an obsessive infatuation with the upper class that borders on creepy. Waugh reportedly believed
in the natural superiority of upper class British society, and disliked "outsiders" like Americans and Jews. I felt
that attitude throughout, but was bothered that the film neither questioned or explored it.

Jeremy Irons is brilliant for half the series, but in the later half I felt him working at playing `older', indeed coming
off as older than the character is supposed to be, and more emotionally flat than needed.

But those complains aside, as a capturing of the sadness of life, how the joy of youth gives way to the confusion
and loss of middle age it is effective and intelligent. If I wasn't blown away I was still glad to have seen it.

I need to watch it again to see if I missed a masterpiece, or I'm just out of sync with the world on this one.

I also was sorry the DVD transfer was as weak as it was. I understand that the film was shot on 16mm, some
elements were damaged, etc. But there were times when, for example, the pulsing of the edges of the frame really
started to pull my concentration away from the story.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2001
There are some things which only the British can do. Hollywood can produce Titanic, but this is a feast of the senses. Like "The Jewel in the Crown", it's hard to say there's much plot involved. If you want nothing slower than Bruce Willis, then don't bother! But there is such a sumptuous evocation of the time and place that you don't need a plot. Jeremy Irons' narration is mesmerising; the cast is superb; every detail fascinates. Reserve a wet weekend to watch it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2011
I have seen only one episode of the 'new' Brideshead and been appalled. It is nothing compared to the original series starring Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons and Dianna Quick. The original complete series on DVD is worth having in your collection. The series was superbly shot and it is a joy to behold. The acting is fantastic and cannot be faulted and Jeremy Irons' voice as he narrates is perfect. I challenge anyone to outdo the original - it just isn't possible. Forget any more sad remakes. We have the best, let's keep it that way !
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
apparently the old dvd of brideshead was of rather poor quality. This new issue is near perfect. Sound and picture are perfect. Audio commentaries on some episodes. An ideal package of an exceptional tv adaptation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2007
Watching Brideshead again it makes you realise what rubbish gets away for drama on the box at the moment. Come on, can you name anything on at the moment that will be regarded as a classic in ten years' time? Anyway, if you saw Brideshead the first time around it's great to watch it again. And if you haven't seen it, buy this and luxuriate in it. And read the book as well, it's even better.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2003
The magic of the original television programme (repeated in the '90s) is finally coming to DVD. I always loved this programme, partly because it portrayed the life of Charles exactly as I had imagined as I read the book, and also just because it was a superb production. A proper, big budget television series that did not feel the need to drift from the plot, and allowed the story to slow down, in order that we might better understand the world of Sebastian. The book (by Waugh) is, in my opinion, a fantastic tale of the time, and this series does it perfect justice. But maybe I'm biased...
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2008
This excellent film is completely spoilt by the DVD quality! I do not know the technical reasons for this but the resolution of this film is awful. When watching it one gets an impression of watching a badly ripped DivX - terribly pixelated. I cannot believe that it was actually digitally re-mastered despite it says so on the box.
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on 25 August 2012
I just about remember this series first time around from my childhood - the theme tune always takes me right back there. The series has stood the test of time and the pairing of Andrews and Irons was and still is inspired. It's not Jeeves and Wooster either - they play out the tradgi-comedy to perfection. Some funny moments, lots and lots of character development and the twists and turns of lives that keep intertwining right to the end.

The recording quality could have been better - true in places the image loses it's sparkle but I guess that may be more to do with the way that the original was recorded and its availability for digital remastering and transfer. Maybe one day someone will do it better who knows.

Having said that I have no qualms about recommending this - buy the book as well, it's absorbing and very entertaining. I'd have scored it 5 stars for the story and acting, and maybe 1 or 2 stars for the recording quality, so settled on a 3 overall.
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