Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brideshead Re-Revisited

Referring to the movie, not the series (so I suppose I should have an extra "Re-" in the title). Disappointing, as advertised—or rather, as widely reviewed. More open about Sebastian's sexual interest in Charles, but damnably less so about Charles' in Sebastian. Indeed, Julia accompanies the two to Venice and it is Charles' interest in her there that dips Sebastian into despondent "dipsomania" — whereas, of course, in the novel Charles arguably turns to Julia much later only because Sebastian is no longer available. Still, in Morocco, Sebastian is striking in his PWA look, and there is one brilliant scene of little more than half a minute and half a dozen shots where we and Charles complicitly peer through mirrors on a canonic incestuous confessional, Sebasatian "childishly" crying in shame and humiliation as Lady Marchmain marmoreally withdraws her hand of love. "Name not the god, thou boy of tears" indeed!


DCSteve1441 said...

Well said, Tim. I remain quite fond of the original dramatization, though I haven't watched it in far too long, something I really must rectify! But the movie does deserve credit for skillfully telescoping the events of the novel into two hours, give or take, vice 12. Yes, some of the choices distort the plot as you note, but overall, I still think it is worth viewing.

Tim said...

I think it's generally unfair to watch a movie too soon after reading the novel on which it's based: it's hard for the movie not to seem superificial by comparison. This Brideshead, however, seemed like some Disney/Gitmo story-boarding of Waugh's work, causing me to wonder what an innocent viewer would make of it.

Possibly preferable, here and in general, might be some through-section rather than a telescoping. Aeschylus is supposed to have commented that his tragedies were just slices off of the great Homeric banquet. Director Julian Jarrold might have aspired so high.

As for the mini-series, I never watched it. But I'm curious to do so now to see whether it's length allows it to seem less superficial.