Customer Review

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This entire British crew - especially scriptwriters Andrew Davies and Jeremy Brock are to be congratulated for their courage in making so many judicious alterations and omissions to help modern audiences comprehend what Waugh really meant to say in his much-loved but unusually loquacious novel "Brideshead Revisited".

Their most important improvement being to use a montage of flashbacks to let everyone know this was going to be a wholesome love story. And to erase any possible confusion cast an anemic actor as the "arrestingly beautiful" Sebastian thereby eliminating the sexual ambiguities in Waugh's first four chapters when Charles and Sebastian are devoted friends - and Julia treats his "chum" with undisguised contempt.

Despite the limited time at their disposal the 2 scriptwriters ingeniously fabricated at least 9 scenes (from their imaginations) to spruce-up Waugh's carefully constructed meandering storyline which confined Charles and Julia's maudlin romance to the last quarter of the novel.

But very soon the fun to be had watching their amazing adaptation came down to noting every intrusive "non-Waugh" moment. This is my checklist from one viewing. Amazon reader may have spotted many more.

1)Sebastian's get-together when Charles sensitively explains what it means to be an artist before he knew he might become one.
2)Julia doesn't return to London - but accompanies the boys to Venice - to gambol in the sand.
3)Julia and Charles are irresistibly attracted after a Venetian Carnival scene (not in the book) causing Sebastian to become a dipsomaniac
4)Lady Marchmain invites Charles to witness the Flytes pray in their RC chapel.
5)Fictitious 21st Birthday Party for Julia - with obligatory elegant dance scene where partners chatter.
6)Lady Marchmain drives to Paddington for a one-on-one with Charles.
7)Charles becomes extremely macho - twice promising to "fix" Rex.
8)Julia overhears Charles purchasing her from Rex in exchange for 2 pictures. She's heartbroken because he put a cheap price on her head.
9)Dramatic moment when the happy pair's departure for wedded bliss is forestalled by the sudden return of Lord Marchmain to die in England.

I'm sure all those involved have reasonable explanations as to why 20 minutes of spurious scenes were added while 4 important characters - Mr. Samgrass. Anthony Blanche, Rex Mottram and Cordelia were reduced to ciphers. And why the audience was left in the dark as to the fate and location of the 3 Flyte children. Perhaps a sequel is in the works? No bets are off after the creativity of "Becoming Jane".

Speaking of Julian Jarrold it seems the challenge of merely recreating a novel which many consider one of the masterpieces of 20th century English literature turned-out to be a creative burden. Or was it the folk at Buena Vista who asked him to alter Waugh's plot? But surely he alone instructed Emma Thomson to play Lady Marchmain as a malicious "head-matron" rather than the Waugh's"flirtatious and feminine" concerned mother? One wonders too why he cast an actor resembling a permanently drunk farm labourer as a noble English aristocrat?

The more important question is how much longer can the British film industry survive if it continues to milk English history and allow second-rate writers to eliminate the last vestiges of English cinematic pride with implausible fabricated period junk every time a Hollywood Production Company requests just one more embarrassing dip into our literary well?
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Oct 2010 13:15:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Oct 2010 13:15:28 BDT
V. Hannides says:
Aahh ! At last an American who understands irony !

Posted on 12 Aug 2013 10:44:43 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Butler's Grand Remonstrance!
Well done, my d-d-dear...
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