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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid story revisited in a shorter version...
Across the pond in customer reviews on Amazon US, this film has 42 ayes and 42 nays...and 15 neural reviews. I viewed this 2008 film remake (130 minutes) of Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel on television earlier this month, ordered the DVD and viewed it again with pleasure. I'm tipping the scales in favor of this shortened film adaptation over the eleven episode GREAT...
Published 2 months ago by janebbooks

versus
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too many wrong choices
In a number of ways this is not a bad adaptation; necessarily condensed, beautifully shot and carefully produced. Most of Waugh's key themes about faith, class and the transient nature of love are preserved, but adapter Andrew Davies takes too many liberties with the main characters resulting in a compromised and de-valued piece of work.

Mathew Goode is a solid...
Published on 20 Jun. 2012 by Mr. Ja McLaughlin


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too many wrong choices, 20 Jun. 2012
By 
Mr. Ja McLaughlin "Tony mac1" (Dunfermline) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In a number of ways this is not a bad adaptation; necessarily condensed, beautifully shot and carefully produced. Most of Waugh's key themes about faith, class and the transient nature of love are preserved, but adapter Andrew Davies takes too many liberties with the main characters resulting in a compromised and de-valued piece of work.

Mathew Goode is a solid Charles Ryder, but this version makes him a much more ambiguous character than the star-struck observer we are familiar with from the book and famous television production of 1981. Waugh's Charles is dazzled by Sebastian, his family and by Brideshead itself in a rather pure, selfless way, except possibly towards the very end of the book when age and cynicism are getting the better of him. In Julian Jarrold's film however, its hinted pretty early on that his motivations may be murky - does he tolerate and manipulate Sebastian and Julia simply to gain a proprietorial foothold over Brideshead itself? This is kept enigmatic, but it nevertheless seems like an unnecessary cheapening of Charles' character.

The relationship between Charles, Sebastian and Julia is also misconceived, fashioned as a romantic triangle with Sebastian's rejection by Charles given as the prime reason behind his descent into depression and alcoholism. This departs significantly from the book, where Charles and Julia do not get romantically involved until many years after his rejection by Sebastian.

All of this particularly compromises the character of Sebastian himself. In the book and the TV series he is a dazzlingly beautiful, glamorous and charismatic sprite who Charles never fails to be captivated by, and his decline is more one of spirit and the burdens of his family than of something as feeble as a romantic slight. In this film, and as played by the small, slight and mousy Ben Wishaw, Sebastian is reduced to little more than a feeble, needy hanger-on, stripped of the wilful self-containment that gives him his dignity. This badly imbalances the film and robs it of one of its most important allegories - the inevitable decline yet continuing attraction of a particular social class in the inter-war years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars brideshead on speed - contains spoilers, 5 April 2011
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I wanted so much to like this adaptation, having been a huge fan of the book and the original Granada TV adaptation from 1981, but sadly that is impossible with this film. Many other reviews on these pages have used the word travesty. The book is simply too detailed and it's time-span of two decades too long to condense into a mere two hour movie. And Waugh's rich language, such a pleasure of reading the book, has been almost completely pruned away to save time. Poor Sebastien Flyte hurtles from a champagne-guzzling young man enjoying his summer vacation from Oxford to a hardened alcoholic swigging from a hip flask in public in the blink of an eye. Later, events tumble on top of one another so you are left with the feeling that they are occuring all in the same week - Charles and Julia arriving back from their adulterous sea voyage, Rex agreeing to a divorce from Julia for the price of a couple of paintings and then Lord Marchmain arriving to die in his place of birth at the very moment that Charles and Julia are set to leave Brideshead! But worse, Charles Ryder is made out to be a social-climber who sets out to ingratiate himself with the smart set and to become master of Brideshead by marrying Julia. What nonsense! Charles' inherent weakness and his tragedy, as foretold by Anthony Blanche, was to be seduced by the charm of the Brideshead set. This gradually saps all ambition and creativity out of him, so that he falls quite happily into the life-style of the place as if born to it, and almost becomes it's master, only to have it all taken from him in the end when Julia insists she can't marry him following her father's death and reconcilliation with the Catholic Church. Performances are good all round, especially Emma Thompson as a splendid and manipulatively icy Lady Marchmain, but too often there is little time on screen to bring a character to life, so short-cuts are taken, often at the expense of the character that Waugh wrote. We see so very little of Charles' boring wife Celia that we get no opportunity to understand their relationship at all, which was one of the pleasures of the Granada TV production starring Jeremy Irons. Rex Mottrom appears in this production to be an odious American, happy to barter his wife for a couple of paintings, rather than the cheerily good-natured Canadian wheeler-dealer who had no concept of the importance of catholicism to the family he was trying to marry into. I would encourage you to watch the Granada TV adaptation instead, or if that's too long, to read the book or listen to Jeremy Irons' audiobook to enjoy the full beauty of Waugh's prose.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brideshead Travesty, 27 July 2012
The problem with the film is that it totally antithetical to the novel - in fact to call this film Brideshead Revisited is a travesty. Brideshead Revisited is about the search for "truth" and "meaning" which, ultimately, for Waugh, can only be found in the Roman Catholic Church (a position I personally do not agree with but that does not affect my appreciation of the novel or the brilliant TV series). Waugh is intelligent enough to know that this is not without its personal cost. The film overturns the basic premise of the novel, and it is fundamentally anti-Catholic.

It is often necessary to change incidents, characters etc in converting a book to film and this does not worry me. The problem with this film is that it rips the heart out of the book and leaves us with nothing.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A travesty of the novel, 24 Mar. 2010
By 
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is not an adaptation of the novel of the same name. It is, rather, a truncation and, in plain speech, a mutilation of said novel. Like so many, I have fond memories of the TV series from the eighties. That was a faithful rendering of Waugh's book; made all the more remarkable by virtue of the fact that the adaptor of the novel for the small screen was John Mortimer, an avowed atheist.

Mortimer could not share or even sympathise with Waugh's religious convictions. Nonetheless, appreciating that Waugh's faith was woven into every strand of the novel, he was most diligent in ensuring that it was also seen to be at the very heart of the story of the TV series. This filmed version, in contrast, is a very loose adaptation of the novel. The plot has been drastically - I might say surgically- altered by the scriptwriter. Whilst I appreciate that it is not possible to squeeze the plot of a complete novel into a two hour film the changes that have been made here are drastic and destructive.

I came to this film expecting to find an accurate, albeit condensed, version of the story of the novel. If only I had been right! The love affair between Charles and Sebastian is cut out completely; Julia is written in to scene after scene in which her character is completely absent in the novel and Waugh's religious message is turned completely on its head. Waugh, to put it simply, saw God as the good guy. The scriptwriter of the film sees God as the bad guy- the true villain of the piece.

This is a perfectly legitimate point of view to hold but if he wished to convey this why did he not I wonder adapt another novel that held to that notion? Why ruin this one? Sterling performances by the cast and a beautiful background for filming (Castle Howard - the same great house that was used as Brideshead in the TV series) cannot redeem this film. I wish I could award it no stars at all or five stars in the negative. Do not buy - or even rent- this film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ordure, 5 Mar. 2011
By 
John R. Wade "john24526" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
An excercise in pointlessness. An inferior remake of the TV serial, terribly paced and savagely hollywoodised screenplay. I could eat a roll of film & excrete a better film. Truly awful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid story revisited in a shorter version..., 13 Feb. 2015
By 
janebbooks (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Across the pond in customer reviews on Amazon US, this film has 42 ayes and 42 nays...and 15 neural reviews. I viewed this 2008 film remake (130 minutes) of Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel on television earlier this month, ordered the DVD and viewed it again with pleasure. I'm tipping the scales in favor of this shortened film adaptation over the eleven episode GREAT PERFORMANCE production (659 minutes) that was shown on PBS in the early months of 1982. At least temporarily.

Here's a simple storyline: In the spring of 1944, disillusioned Army captain Charles Ryder is moving his company to a new Brigade Headquarters at a secret location he discovers is Brideshead, once home to the Marchmain family with whom he spent both pleasant and anguished visits as a Oxford classmate and friend of the younger son. Seeing the house for the first time in many years prompts a recollection of Charles' first meeting with Lord Sebastian Flyte at Oxford University in 1922, and the rest of the narrative flashes back to that time forward. At Oxford, two young men quickly bond and, although his cousin warns him to avoid Sebastian and his inner circle of friends, Charles is fascinated by them. Short on funds, Charles finds himself fitfully spending the summer holidays in London with his indifferent and rigid father Edward until an urgent message from Sebastian sends him to Brideshead, where Charles is introduced to a world of wealth and privilege dominated by a powerful devotion to Catholicism.

The main characters are the same in the novel and in both the 1982 mini-series and this 2008 film adaptation:

* Charles Ryder. The protagonist and narrator of the story who is reared by his father after his mother died. His family background is financially comfortable but emotionally hollow. He is unsure about his desires or goals in life and is dazzled both by the charming and seemingly carefree young Lord Sebastian Flyte, whom he meets at Oxford in 1922, and Sebastian's family. Charles, though dissatisfied with what life offers, has modest success in later life as a painter.
* Edward "Ned" Ryder. Charles's father is a somewhat distant and eccentric figure, but possessed of a keen wit. When Charles is forced to spend his holidays with him because he has already spent his allowance for the term, the elder Ryder, in some of the funniest conversations in the story, strives to make Charles as uncomfortable as possible.
* Lord Marchmain (Alexander Flyte). As a young man, Lord Marchmain fell in love with a Roman Catholic woman and converted to marry her. The marriage was unhappy and, after the First World War, he refused to return to England and lives in Venice with his Italian mistress.
* Lady Marchmain (Teresa Flyte). A member of an old and established Roman Catholic family (the people that Waugh himself most admired). She brought up her children as Roman Catholics against her husband's wishes. Abandoned by her husband, Lady Marchmain rules over her household, enforcing her Roman Catholic morality on her children.
* "Bridey" Flyte. The elder son of Lord and Lady Marchmain who as heir holds the courtesy title "Earl of Brideshead". He follows his mother's strict Roman Catholic beliefs and once aspired to the priesthood. He is unable to connect in an emotional way with most people, who find him cold and distant.
* Lord Sebastian Flyte. The younger son of Lord and Lady Marchmain is haunted by a profound unhappiness brought on by a troubled relationship with his mother. An otherwise charming and attractive companion, he numbs himself with alcohol and flaunts his uniqueness by often carrying his plush teddy bear, Aloysius.
* Lady Julia Flyte. The beautiful elder daughter of Lord and Lady Marchmain, who comes out as a debutante in the beginning of the story, eventually marrying her mother's choice--a converted Catholic. Charles loves her for most of their lives.
* Lady Cordelia Flyte. The youngest of the siblings is the most devout and least conflicted in her beliefs. She aspires solely to serve God.
* Anthony Blanche. A friend of Charles and Sebastian's from Oxford and an overt homosexual. His background is unclear, but there are hints that he may be of Italian or Spanish extraction. Of all the characters, Anthony has the keenest insight into the self-deception of the people around him.
* Celia Ryder. Charles's wife, a vivacious, wealthy, and socially active beauty. Charles marries her largely for convenience and her interest in his paintings.
* Rex Mottram. A Canadian of great ambition who holds a seat in the House of Commons. Through his marriage to Julia, he connects to the Marchmains as another step on the ladder to the top.
* Cara. An Italian woman who lives with Lord Marchmain in Venice, as his mistress. She is very protective of Lord Marchmain and is forthright and insightful in her conversations with Charles.

So come join me in viewing this lavish and riveting drama of forbidden love, power and betrayal again. Most of the actors in both the mini-series and this film give stunning performances and a few minor characters seem to be the same actor in both (Edward Ryder, Cara, Anthony Blanche, Celia, Rex Mottram, and Bridey). Matthew Goode (Death Comes to Pemberley) who saw Charles Ryder "as the loneliest person in the whole world" is almost as good as Jeremy Irons (and I thought Irons irreplaceable in the role). Hayley Atwell is the perfect Julia, a foreshadow of her talent as the memorable woman in the novels of William Boyd (Restless-2011] and (Any Human Heart-2010). Michael Gambon is as brilliant as Laurence Olivier, who won a 1982 Golden Globe as Lord Marchmain. And what can be said in praise of the talented Emma Thompson who hauntingly and haughtily becomes Lady Marchmain?
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trust the artist, 14 April 2010
By 
A. J. Chambers (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This was Director Charles Sturridge's recent comment about the unique process enjoyed by the production team at Granada and the actors and technicians involved in the 1981 mini series. A special moment occurred where creativity was allowed to flourish and a 2 year process culminated in a piece of television history.

When the Producer Derek Granger also added, 'those days are gone', he wasn't referring to Waugh's landscape and characters but the art of film making.

The 2008 production could never conjure up the alchemy of 1981. And it has since been proved that high production values, which drown this film, do not equal art. In 1981 a one-off was created. Something unrepeatable.

If the mini series told us anything, it was that this novel needed to be adapted in full, with Waugh's voice at the forefront ....and that would take time. The investment Granada made in the attention to detail paid off. Audiences were prepared to watch a 13 hour story evolve.

My hope is that viewers of this film, new to Waugh and Brideshead, will get a flavour of this great story and with any luck seek out the 13 hour experience - which still shimmers unrivaled after 30 years - in another league.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brideshead Butchered, 22 April 2010
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Like many of the reviews I have read on this film, I would give this no, or even negative stars, if I could. Its an absolute atrocity; a butchering of the book that turns the story into a Hollywood-ized movie that is infuriatingly crude and obvious. The writer of this film, not the actors, is the culprit: he has not only changed the events of the plot, but has written a screenplay that actually brings out the wrong message of the story. For example, Julia spends far too much time with Charles and Sebastien and she even accompanies them to Venice: anyone who has read the book would realise how completely inappropriate this is. There are several other instances of this but i would have to write an essay to explain them all.
Basically, dont waste time and money on this rubbish: watch the brilliant granada series - a dazzling, masterful adaption of the book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biggleswade Reshafted, 19 April 2010
By 
Gavin Wilson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
There is plenty here to infuriate Brideshead fans, a group of which I count myself a member. And yet I don't begrudge the two hours I spent watching this DVD last night. On reflection, I enjoyed spotting as many of the deviations from the novel as I could. And I spotted an homage to 'Don't Look Now' in one of the nocturnal canal scenes in Venice, so I wonder if there are others.

As others have noted, the biggest sin committed by this screenplay is the role of Julia. In the novel, Sebastian goes downhill as a by-product of the pernicious cycle of his increased drinking and escapism causing his mother to track his movements more intensely, which leads to more drinking etc. In this movie, Julia goes to Venice with Charles and Sebastian -- I don't recall that in the novel -- and it is Sebastian catching a snatched kiss between Charles and Julia which drives him to solitude and heavier drinking. In the novel Julia doesn't become the 'love of Charles's life' until his marriage to Celia deteriorates; this movie suggests that Charles knows she is the one as soon as he lights a cigarette for her in the car journey from the station.

So many great cameo performances from the TV series have been omitted from this movie. Anthony Blanche barely gets a look-in, disabled German Kurt gets 10 seconds, and the fellow student that John Gielgud pretended was an American at dinner -- definitely the funniest moment of the TV series and audio CD -- has vanished.

You must, must, must buy the TV series DVD first, before this. This is the remixed pop video version -- equally sumptuous, but with the plot very changed and abridged. I would also recommend the audio CD narrated by Jeremy Irons -- he does the voices, particularly of Charles's father -- so well.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BRIDESHEAD REGURGITATED, 13 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I approached this film from the perspective, and possibly the prejudice, of someone who knew the original book and also adored the superb and faithful Granada TV epic series. Consequently, I was extremely disappointed by the gross inaccuracies in the plot, and also the overly "Hollywood" take on the characters. I was half expecting to find out that `The Comic Strip' had produced this film as a spoof.
As soon as Julia went on the trip with Charles and Sebastian to Italy, as was never written by Evelyn Waugh, I completely lost faith in this effort. Such a blatant departure from the book also undermines, and underplays the transient homosexual relationship between the two main male progenitors, and ruins the whole premise. Yes, Charles' transfer of affection from Sebastian to Julia is the plot's lynchpin, but it is hurried here, and loses all subtlety.
On the positive side, Emma Thompson is fabulous, and she is perhaps the only actor to actually `get' the feel of the plot. Michael Gambon is good too, but blink and you miss him. All in all, if you approach this film never having seen or read anything about the story before, then there maybe something here for you. Otherwise, go and buy the Granada box set instead!
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