The new Brideshead Revisited movie (maybe minor spoilers)

Has anyone else seen the new Brideshead Revisited movie? I saw it yesterday afternoon in Bethesda and wanted to post about it when I got home, but well… you know. Technical difficulties.

I understand that some compression of the story is required to get it all into a 2-hour film, but there were changes made that I really didn’t like: Charles falls in love with Julia much earlier than he should, and all the subletly is removed from Lady Marchmain’s character as she loads up her children with religious guilt. All the problems I had especially with the middle part of the movie stem from these two points.

Thinking it over since yesterday, I’ve begun to believe that the people who made this film were working on the idea that their audience prefers the Charles/Julia romance to the Charles/Sebastian one, since that’s what they emphasized. The homoerotic component of the first part was pretty well watered down. I don’t know anyone who enjoys this story as written (or who likes the 1980 miniseries) who feels that way, but if you’re out there, let me know. Did you like the changes they made here?

There are some nice little character scenes for Patrick Malahide as Charles’s indifferent father, but most of the other funny and obnoxious characters in Waugh’s story appear all-too briefly: Anthony Blanche, Boy Mulcaster, Bridey, and Rex Mottram (it looked like Rex had suffered a terrible revision at first, but he redeems himself in a later scene).

I absolutely loved this movie, but, and this probably had the biggest effect on my experience, I have neither read the book nor seen the earlier miniseries (I do have vague memories of the miniseries – I’m sure I’ve seen clips from it at some point).

With nothing to compare it to, both the story and the moviegoing experience were excellent for me. I thought the acting was brilliant. Matthew Goode, who played Charles, did an exceptional job. I can’t speak to how the relationship was portrayed in the book, but in the movie it was quite clear that Sebastian was in love with Charles, who, while he had great affection for Sebastian, was not gay and not in love with him. I thought that storyline played out extremely realistically. In fact, all of the characters felt like real people to me, which is rare in modern movies. If Waugh meant Charles to secretly be gay, then the movie didn’t capture that, but if he meant him to truly be only a friend to Sebastian, then it was pitch-perfect.

Ultimately, I left feeling that the movie was a scathing and accurate portrayal of a dysfunctional family. I liked the way they captured the period as well. One thing that did surprise me was the very strong indictment of traditional Catholicism. I don’t know if the book was the same way, but I got the feeling that the story was written by someone who had serious issues with the Catholic Church. In some ways the attack on religion and the presentation of atheism as the pragmatic and sensible choice reminded me very much of the Dope.

That sounds to me like a fairly radical departure from the book then.

In the book, or at least as I interpreted it, Charles was in love with Sebastian, but not gay. It was the time and the circumstances: so many guys were in love-the-one-you’re-with situations as youths, and later went on to discover their latent heterosexuality. :wink: I’ve gathered that this applies to Waugh himself, and that the Charles/Sebastian relationship was drawn from his own experience.

At any rate, Charles was not struggling with his sexual identity, or anything like that. He was hooked up with the coolest guys in school, of which Sebastian was the leader. He spent his freshman year partying, and had an idyllic summer at Brideshead, but Sebastian’s alcoholism was the dealbreaker. Charles couldn’t deal with that kind of baggage, and I’m not sure I blame him.

It’s what Cara calls “these romantic friendships of the English… It is a kind of love that comes to children before they know its meaning. In England, it comes when you are almost men.” Certainly, it’s ambiguous enough for Charles to call it love; he uses the word “love” frequently about Sebastian. Years later, when Julia asks him–"You loved him, didn’t you?–she isn’t asking if they were just best buddies. (And Charles responds, “Oh, yes.”) After the relationship is over, however, he doesn’t fall in love with other boys, but settles down into a dull and loveless marriage.

The book never makes it explicit just how far his and Sebastian’s relationship went, although there are little hints here and there. The miniseries played up on it with meaningful looks, which is I suppose as much as they could do in 1980s television. In this new movie, however, Charles is played as a straight boy with a gay friend who’s in love with him, and whom he doesn’t want to hurt until he can’t avoid it.

I was rather disappointed in that respect. In this post-Brokeback Mountain era, I was hoping they’d make the hints more explicit instead of discarding them. At least one good kiss instead of Charles flinching away. But alas, no.

That’s terrible.

No good kiss? Yes, I think so. I might’ve been a lot more forgiving of the changes in the middle part of this movie if they’d done a better job with this aspect of Charles/Sebastian story at the beginning.

Oh, well. It was beautifully filmed and had a number of fine actors in it. And Castle Howard is still gorgeous. If Charles loves the house more than Sebastian or Julia (as the suggestion comes up a couple of times in the movie), I can’t blame him; it’s been an object of house-lust for me for nearly 30 years.

Just got back from seeing this movie, and thought I’d add my two pennies worth. Please note I’m also coming at it as someone who has neither read the book or seen the miniseries. (Although I plan on changing that ASAP.)

I guess it’s going to take some time for me to think it all over, but my initial feeling walking out of the theater was “loved it.” If for nothing else than the acting, the cinematography, (that house!), the costumes. Venice in the 30’s! Love!

Sorry, the rest of this is going to ramble…

Re: Charles’ and Sebastian’s romance, I dunno. I think I only knew Charles wasn’t gay because I’d seen previews and so knew it was going to turn into a love story between him and the sister. As it was, at first I was sitting there thinking how cruel he was to lead Sebastian on like that. Then as it went on, I figured out that Charles was in love with Sebastian, too, just not in the same way. I thought that whole part was very sad, and I felt bad for Charles being stuck between the two of them, but I also felt like he should have known better than to let things go so far between him and Sebastian.

Thought the ending with the father’s last minute “miracle” was interesting on several layers. Does it elaborate in the book–was that a last loving gesture of a dying father to his children (giving them what he knows they so desperately want)? Did he really have a religious awakening at the last moment? Or was he just doing it “just in case” ?

As an atheist with some very religious family members, let me just say I totally felt Charles’ frustration with Julia’s inability to let go of her indoctrination. She had happiness at her fingertips, and she let it all go because of the fear of a fairy tale her mother had drilled into her brain from the time she was a child. And there was nothing he could do or say to make her see sense, and he knew it.

Emma Thompson was brilliant, as always, although I was sad to see her cast as the “old lady.”

Can’t wait to read the book and really dive into these characters.

The book makes it clear that it’s a genuine return to his faith on the part of Lord Marchmain. It’s one of the catalysts of Charles’ eventual conversion.

You should read the book. Since it’s basically about the operation of grace on the various characters, it follows that Julia has seen sense, a fact that Charles himself realises.

This is one of the things that gets very much compressed in the movie. Lord Marchmain is home for months, slowly fading and struggling before his death; he’s terribly afraid to die and has time to think about the great sin of his life (i.e., leaving his wife and family). The discussion about whether or not to have a priest in also goes on for some time.

You don’t really know what goes on in Lord Marchmain’s mind at the very end, since you see it through Charles’s eyes, but his making the sign of the cross is seen as a powerful and sincere act of repentance rather than a gesture for the sake of his children.

Since I still have the book here on the desk after looking up the Cara quote, here’s what Charles thinks at that moment: “Then I knew that the sign I had asked for was not a little thing, not a passing nod of recognition, and a phrase came back to me from my childhood of the veil of the temple being rent from top to bottom.”

I have always loved Charles’s agnostic prayer at the deathbed: “O God, if there is a God, forgive him his sins, if there is such a thing as sin.”

Then you are in for a treat! This is one of my favorite novels. Charles recalls his interactions with a series of extremely charming and interesting people: the Flytes foremost, but also the obnoxious and funny collection of secondary characters I mentioned above who only appear very briefly in the recent film. (Mr. Samgrass didn’t even have any lines here, did he?)

Huh. If the movie came across as a powerful indictment of the Catholic Church it’s a radical depature from the book.

Thinking about seeing it. I’m not sure. It’s one of my favourite books (and was, interestingly, a part of my conversion to Catholicism).

I was planning to see this film. The commentary in this thread suggests to me that the producers of the film have jettisoned the key theme of Waugh’s novel. I don’t think I’ll bother going to see it now.

You know, it might have been my own anti-religion bias making me see what I wanted to see in this film. On reflection, there *is * a scene in the end which does indeed indicate that Charles has maybe had his mind changed about religion…the scene with the candle. Also, maybe he wasn’t as bitter about Julia’s decision as I thought at the time.

I’d have to watch it again, knowing what I know now about the book. But I don’t think it was all that black and white, after all.

And it’s worth seeing just for the cinematography and costumes, IMHO.

I didn’t like the look of the trailer at all, though I will reserve my final judgement. The BBC miniseries was truly splendid, one of my favorite series of all time – if you haven’t seen it, then by all means buy the DVD’s and enjoy Jeremy Iron’s awesome performance.

I caught a trivia on IMDB that the producers behind the mini-series felt they had to prolong the series from six to eleven hours in order to make the book justice. Concidering that the movie is around *two *hours and tries to tell the same story, it’ll be interesting to see the final results.

I think the miniseries is about the closest-to-perfection adaptation of a novel one is ever likely to see. Although I like to joke that I can read the book more quickly than it takes to watch… :slight_smile:

The new film is very much compressed. Charles meets all the Flytes at once that first summer at Brideshead, for example. And I mentioned above that most of the side characters appear very briefly and have only a line or two. That sort of thing I can understand, but there were also some changes for the sake of speeding things up that irked me very much. I’ll put this in spoiler tags.

[spoiler]They move Charles’s romance with Julia up into the early part of the story; she goes to Venice with him and Sebastian, and Charles chases her around. The movie gives this as the reason for Sebastian’s increased drinking. When they get back to England, Lady Marchmain tells Charles that she won’t allow her daughter to marry a man who isn’t a Catholic. The next thing you know, Julia is announcing her engagement to Rex Mottram, whom Lady Marchmain approves of and has pushed her into marrying-! (I was gritting my teeth at this point). There’s a ballroom scene where everybody confronts everybody else, and Charles breaks with the family until he meets Julia again ten years later on the ship back from New York, at which point the story resumes its normal course.

The Rex Mottram change is only redeemed slightly later, when Rex tell Charles he converted to get Julia. Pity we didn’t get to see that, since Rex’s conversion is one of my favorite parts of the Julia story.

There’s also a weird bit of compression at one point near the end; Bridey has his “living in sin” line to Julia almost as soon as she and Charles step into the house after getting home off the ship. I thought at first that there’d been a cut here and the scene with Bridey was happening some time later, after they’d actually been living in sin for awhile, but then Charles went to talk to Rex about letting Julia divorce him right afterwards, as they’d agreed to do when Charles and Julia arrived. So it was all the same evening, and Julia has her teary, hysterical scene right afterwards.

It sure is! Thanks for those details Miss Mapp. This film is now definitely off my list of ones to see.

The obligatory British nitpick to point out that there’s more than the BBC making TV programmes in the UK: it was done by Granada for ITV, then the sole commercial, non-BBC channel.

Oops. Sorry. I’m used to thinking in Swedish terms, where SF is responsible for any equivalent project.

I saw this movie without knowing anything about it. I think that was a mistake. I loved the costumes and the actors and everything, but I left the movie with nothing but a feeling that I wanted to punch Julia in the face. She destroyed 2 marriages to turn away from the man she loves and leave him alone in the army? Fuck her! Maybe it would make more sense if I read the book or saw the miniseries but I was left with a feeling of anger at Julia and sorrow for Charles.

I just saw the film this weekend. I really loved it, both because it was a well done film and also because I felt several parallels between myself and the main character. Afterwards I did some internetting to find out about the original story and found some of the differences between the film and the novel (and miniseries) to be interesting.

Whereas in the film his falling in love with the sister seems to be what pushes the brother into his self destructive path and alienates them, in the novel the brother’s alcoholism is what alienates them - but without the sister romance what initiates it? Is it the mother’s overbearing nature? In the novel he doesn’t fall in love with her until long after his friendship with the brother has ended, and it seems they actually live with each other at Brideshead for a couple of years before the father returns. Also, his wife and her husband have been unfaithful first. And he falls in love with her because in part of her resemblance to the brother.

The film seemed if not anti-Catholic, at least against the mother’s particular notion of Catholicism. The father’s mistress’s version is treated more kindly. The novel is supposedly pro-Catholicism. But it seems like the same elements are there - Charles is still an outsider and the mother is still to blame for the woes of the children. I’m guessing that whatever pro aspects there are, are in the internal dialogues and narrative, and not in the story itself?