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 5 months ago by janebbooks
19 of 19 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biggleswade Reshafted,
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars T-t-terrible drivel...,
Despairing that I had to give this even one star...
I watched this film full of expectations with a friend of mine who had never read the book. She found it confused and odd as she had no idea of the origional plot. Film adaptions should not copy a book exactly-the relationship between Sebastian and Charles could never be perfectly understood in film. If this was why the film confused my friend I could have forgiven it. However, the scriptwriter and director seem to have interpreted the text in a completely different manner to how I did or anyone else I know who has read it. The text was bastardised into what they wanted it to be- A love story between Julia and Charles were a jealous Sebastian gets in the way.
I also found the love scene too much. The beauty of a love story is the secrecy of what goes on behind closed doors, and that is what Waugh created so spendidly in his book. Everything is out in the open in this film. In this horror of a film, Charles and Sebastian's relationship is destroyed by a clumsy kiss which I found uncomfortable to watch as well as being completely unrealistic as I felt no believable chemistry between the two.
I'm now off for a hot whiskey with honey...my throat is killing me from shouting at the t.v. for two hours! Any fans of Waugh thinking of watching this, DO NOT!! Unless of course your looking for an excuse vent some anger with a good yell at the t.v.....
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Murder at the mansion,
This film is a murder story. It's murdered a great book and taken it into the realms of middle class fantasy, rather than aristocratic grandeur. Emma Thompson changes her accent from Hampstead to aristo too often and as for Ben Wishaw! Gay hair dresser I would say, and brunette? Oh dear, this great work has been dumbed down to make it more accessible as a "chick flick." The only saving graces are Matthew Goode's Charles, Jonathan Cake's Rex and an all too brief Greta Scacchi as Cara, who was spot on. Hayley Atwell's Julia, doll like and moving at times, was far too manipulated in this adaptation to be considered nothing more than eye candy. There was not even one good drawing room scene at Brideshead; they obviously live in halls and dining rooms. Where were the great London scenes at Marchmain House? Why was Julia in Venice? Strange adaptation; it has a life of its own, yet no life at all. Truly the murder of one of the greats of modern literature. I can't give more than 2 stars (and that is generous), considering the raw materials the producers/directors had to work with. Not enough research has gone in to it; Ben Wishaw, in one of the features, admits to never having met an aristocrat. How could he then play one convincingly. Either do the job properly or not at all. Perhap, as an aristocrat I'm biased.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Train Wreck,
The Wisdom of the Crowd has got this one right: this is a disastrous 'adaptation' of Waugh's novel that manages to desecrate both the novel and the Granada series. This is, in fact, an "adaptation" in the sense in which a lunatic attacking the Mona Lisa with a can of spray paint can claim to be adapting the painting, not defacing it. To solve the problem of compressing the narrative, the script writers create a love triangle where Charles Ryder is involved with both Sebastian and Julia in Venice. That saves time while making a complete nonsense of the novel; Ryder is now the "bad guy", the cynical arriviste who is responsible for Sebastian's alcoholism and seems to end up with Julia because he wants to steal the house, Brideshead. This make no sense at all as an "adaptation" of anything; as an original story it is cliched, contains some authentically bad writing ("Is this fate?") and refracts the whole narrative through Andrew Davies's resolutely lowbrow sensibility. No one in this story is charming or even particularly likeable: the result is dull, dull, dull. The actors involved do not seem able to capture the charm as well as the authority of the Flyte family; Hayley Atwell seems completely out of her depth as Julia Flyte. Emma Thompson also deserves mention for alternately playing Lady Marchmain as the Head of an Oxbridge College in some scenes and as Caligula in others. Ben Whishaw and Felicity Jones emerge with their reputations intact, doing the best they can with the lousy script. If possible, avoid, and enjoy one of the high points of British TV drama in the original Granada series. Better eleven hours of entertainment than two hours of utter tedium.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Et In Arcadia Non Ego,
This film is very literally a travesty, bearing absolutely no resemblence to Waugh's masterpiece in plot, emphasis, motive or tone; it's simply a different story, with the timespan telescoped and the characters compressed beyond recognition. Everything luxurious and excessive in the book has been simplified (or simply erased) in the interests of making it fit the required cinema run-time. This is Brideshead Lite, Reader's Digest style.
Remembering that, but putting it to one side, I actually quite enjoyed this film. It's nicely photographed in great locations, there are good performances from most of the cast (special mention for Emma Thompson) and it's moderately involving as a thwarted love story between Julia and Charles. Take it from one brimming with Catholic guilt, this is neither sacred nor particularly profane, but it's a pleasant enough way to spend a wet Sunday in February. After Church going, naturally. So watch it, even enjoy it, just don't ever call it Brideshead.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If I could, I wouldn't give it any stars,
This film is such a disappointment!!!!! We were willing to overlook the films overwhelming discrepancies from the novel, but we were shocked as an initial involvement, even to a negative degree, paled into an indifferent boredom. Not only were the characters cliched and undeveloped, but the films attempts to enhance dramatic atmosphere resulted in a melodramatic shade of grey which dominated the entire set. We were- ashamedly- wiling Lord Marchmain- a character we were deeply fond of- to die, just so the film would finally end. We've still not got over the overwhelming boredom!
Even if you're planning on watching it just to mock it, don't. It's so bad you can't. It's such a let down.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful,
Caught this on a long plane trip to Australia - and it doesn't even belong as an airplane movie. It's dreadful. I was prepared that it could never match the beautifully produced Granada TV series from the early 80s, but never expected anything as facile as this. The only half decent thing is the narration which the director has tried to keep as close to a Jeremy Irons soundalike as possible. Ben Wishaw's Sebastian is portrayed as some flimsy, wimpish 'nothing'; there is none of the anger and conflict that comes at you through the book. Nothing of the subtlety of the TV series survives. I wasted 90 minutes of my life watching this in the vain hope that it might get better or that I might fall asleep. Even Emma Thompson can't save this from sinking further.
Forget this and go for the Granada original.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Cost of Keeping Faith,
Any film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel Brideshead Revisited must inevitably be compared with the sumptuous, highly-regarded, if overlong, Granada Television version 0f 1981. This version is very much shorter so a good deal of compression and omission has been necessary. Thus, some of the secondary but still quite significant characters like Anthony Blanche, Cordelia Flyte and the very much put-upon Mr Samgrass are either dealt with quite summarily or are hardly visible. The central story, of the relationships between the two young men, Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte, and the latter's sister, Julia, is substantially intact but the focus has been shifted much earlier onto the sexual attraction between Ryder and Julia. This is, of course, not as Waugh intended. Production values are high, with Oxford, Castle Howard and Venice romantically resplendent and the film scores over the television version by shortening the final, drawn-out scenes when Lord Marchmain returns to Brideshead to die. The conflict between the family's Catholicism and Ryder's atheism is also sharply drawn. But there is at least one vital element missing : the narrative voice-over by Ryder, whose reflections on what he experiences are central to the story, as is his realisation in the 'book-ended' Second World War scenes (in the revisited Brideshead) that his life has become empty and wearisome, but with just a hint at the very end that he has found a glimmering of the sort of religious faith which sustained most of the Marchmain family. Ben Whishaw, as Sebastian, and Hayley Atwell, as Julia, are not overshadowed by their predecessors but Matthew Goode does not quite match Jeremy Irons' portrayal as the far from likeable Ryder. As the senior Marchmains, Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson are slightly in the shadows of Laurence Olivier and Claire Bloom. There are a number of Special Features, including the now familiar cast and crew interviews in which fulsome tributes are paid to colleagues. To summarise, the film edges to a **** in its own right but rates only a *** as an adaptation of the book.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Travesty,
Wow: this is bad.
This isn't to say that there aren't good things in it: the performances of Ben Whishawe, Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon are all excellent, but almost everything else is lousy.
The script is dreadful, absolutely dreadful: there is no tension in it, no understanding of the structure or the themes of the book - and as a result, what we get is a very shallow, snobbish piece of work. There is a very simplistic reading introduced (that the middle class Charles wants possession of the great house at any price) in the absence of an ability to engage with what Waugh described as the theme of the book: the operation of grace on a diverse group of people.
Finally: and very surprisingly the attention to detail in the styling of costume and sets is really poor - notably the fact that all the Catholic women (who would have worn crucifixes) are all seen wearing crosses. It's not a truly unsettling detail, perhaps, but it is representative of the fact that the film-makers didn't really understand what they were grappling with.
The Granada adaptation really is magnificent - and a far better way to spend your money than on this rubbish.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A travesty,
The story has been radically altered from that in the book. Terrible! Nothing beats the TV series from 1981. Only loved the views of Castle Howard.
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Brideshead Revisited [Blu-ray] [DVD]  by Julian Jarrold (Blu-ray - 2009)