66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Brideshead FINALLY revisited!,
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited: The Complete Series [DVD]  (DVD)
After acquiring a DVD player just over a year ago, this was about the first thing I went looking for. And guess what: it wasn’t there! Whereas every last B-movie and sitcom-futility seemed available on disc, nobody had thought of issuing this towering monument of TV-history on DVD. Imagine my euphoria when, on a visit to Hong Kong six months later, I nevertheless found it! Fortunately the lady at the counter was kind enough to point out that it would be useless in Europe, as it was coded Region 1. As it turned out, Brideshead has been available on DVD for years in the US – but not in Europe! (The same, by the way, seems to be happening to another masterly TV-adaptation of a classis English novel, Vanity Fair).
Well, finally the waiting is over, and here it is. After opening the package, it still struck me as somewhat of a rushed job (an impression not helped by the fact that the first copy I got was faulty): the three discs come in a flimsy cardboard slipcase, and there is no additional material either in a booklet or on any of the discs, not even an index for the scene-tracks per episode. It is just the series, and nothing more (though the architectural drawing of Castle Howard from Campbell's Vitruvius Brittanicus, on the reverse of the fold-out containing the discs, IS gorgeous).
But well – who needs more, really? For anybody with a little sense of nostalgia, with a taste for the Twenties or for the English country house, or with even the slightest symptoms of Anglophilia, this is irresistible – and when you have two or more of these, be prepared to be blown away. Waugh's slow-paced, multi-faceted baroque tragedy is reproduced faithfully on screen from its exuberant start to its bitter-sweet ending. As an adaptation of the novel, the screenplay is a masterpiece in itself. Casting, locations and camerawork are all as near to perfection as humanly possible (apparently the success of Castle Howard as Brideshead was such that many people seem to think the house is actually called Brideshead). Anthony Andrews is astoundingly adept at portraying both Sebastian's lighter and darker sides; a still very young Jeremy Irons succeeds in keeping Charles and his tremendous character development centre stage in spite of the motley crowd surrounding him; and John Gielgud supplies marvellous comedy as Charles's subtly and somewhat maliciously deranged father; - to mention just a few. In short, and notwithstanding some excellent productions of later years, this series still has a very strong claim to being the best thing ever done for TV.
I have seen some DVD-buffs complain about the quality of the images: 'dull patches', 'dead colours' and 'unquiet backgrounds' seemed to interfere with their viewing pleasure. Frankly, I have no idea what they are talking about. If you own a giant TV-set and push your nose against the screen, who knows what you will see, but to me the DVD version looks infinitely better than the VHS-copy I owned. It is sharp, steady and clear, and better still, these qualities will remain intact over time – which is a good thing, for if ever there was a TV-series warranting repeated viewing, it is this one!