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Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008]

3.2 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon, Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones
  • Directors: Julian Jarrold
  • Producers: Robert Bernstein, Kevin Loader, Douglas Rae
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2 Entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 9 Mar. 2009
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GXQSW4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,528 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Privilege. Ambition. Desire. At Brideshead Everything Comes at a Price.

A heartbreaking romantic epic, this adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel tells an evocative story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence.

Oxford 1925.

The unworldly undergraduate Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) is befriended by the flamboyant and aristocratic Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), son of Lord and Lady Marchmain (Michael Gambon and Academy Award-Winner Emma Thompson), and is thrilled by an invitation to Brideshead, the Marchmain’s magnificent ancestral home. Beguiled by his surroundings, Charles is entranced by the opulent house and the glamourous world of this eccentric family. While Lord Marchmain lives in Venice with his mistress, Lady Marchmain runs the house, the failure of her marriage redoubling the fierce Catholic faith imposed on her children – Sebastian and the beautiful Julia (Hayley Atwell).

As Charles’s infatuation moves from the provocative Sebastian to the sophisticated Julia, it is a faith with which he finds himself increasingly at odds…

From Amazon.co.uk

It’s always a danger to go back and offer a fresh take on a classic text that’s already made the transition to television so well. In the case of Brideshead Revisited, the 1981 miniseries has become so revered that it’s understandable few have been tempted to tackle it since. Enter, however, writers Andrew Davies and Jeremy Brock, who have taken Evelyn Waugh’s novel, and created a television movie worth considering.

Set in 1925, the story of Brideshead Revisited doesn’t easily fit into a feature running time, but the end result still works well. The life of the Marchmain family, under the ultra-critical eye of Lady Marchmain (played by the excellent, as always, Emma Thompson, in a quite small role) throws together romance, religion and a handy dose of obsession too, as outsider Charles Ryder gets invited to the Brideshead estate by Sebastian Flyte. Inevitably, the pace of the production is a little too quick at times, and following all of the characters takes some work. Yet this is a solid piece of period drama.

What it isn’t is a rival for the original miniseries, and perhaps that’s why this take on Brideshead Revisited went down the television movie route instead. The consequence is that it does feel a little cramped, and while the production values are good, a bit more breathing room in the running time wouldn’t have hurt. Still, as it stands this is a perfectly fine take on the novel, even if it never has pretensions to be the definitive one. --Jon Foster

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
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.
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Format: Blu-ray
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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