"Not Worth the Trip"
In BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, an atheist in England recalls his dealings with an aristocratic Catholic family, including adultery and homosexuality. In the original book by Evelyn Waugh, the Catholic faith makes more and more sense to Charles, but this movie version has a humanist worldview that says God is mean, cruel and destructive.
If you loved the television version of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh, you might want to watch that again rather than this new movie version. If you loved the book, you might want to get the television version.
The note handed out to the press for the movie explained that the book is way too long and detailed for a movie. So, they have decided to feature the homosexual love story, the adulterous love story and the novel’s theme of atheism versus Catholicism, with atheism being promoted instead of Christianity as in the book. People familiar with the book and the television series will say, what homosexual love story, because in the book and television series this is a friendship where something more is merely hinted. By enhancing the seamier side of the book’s subplots and themes, the filmmakers try to turn it into a potboiler. Regrettably, most of the dialogue and action is static, so the plot never boils.
Charles, the atheist hero in this movie version, comes from a lower middle class home where his mother died when he was young and his father doesn’t seem to care for him. He goes to Oxford, where he becomes involved with the “sodomites,” as the movie says. One of them, Sebastian, whose trademark is carrying a teddy bear, falls for Charles and invites him to his manor house, Brideshead.
Sebastian is afraid, however, of introducing Charles to his mother, Lady Marchmain, an on fire, dedicated Catholic known as The Saint. He also wants to avoid his sister, who is a buxom girl in full flower. Soon after dallying naked with Sebastian and kissing him, Charles sees the sister, Julia, and becomes smitten with her, breaking Sebastian’s heart.
A lovelorn Sebastian decides to drink himself to death. Sebastian’s mother wants Charles to rescue Sebastian. Instead, Charles gets more interested in Julia.
Lady Marchmain, however, marries Julia off to a wealthy Canadian named Rex. Meanwhile, Charles marries a wealthy socialite and becomes a famous artist. At a showing on an ocean liner of his paintings, Charles sees Julia. Though they are both married, they hop into bed together. Then, they go to London.
Charles asks Rex to give up his wife. Rex trades his wife for two of Charles’s paintings. Then, Julia’s adulterous father comes home from Venice. He seems to have a deathbed conversion. Julia adopts the family’s Catholicism, and Charles recalls the rest of the story when, during World War II, he’s stationed at Brideshead in the armed forces.
In the book, the Catholic faith and the prayers make more and more sense to Charles and at the end, he is on the verge of converting. In part, this is Evelyn Waugh’s own story, because eventually he did convert. In the TV series, the Catholic faith is positive and somewhat mysterious. In the movie, the mother and God are accused of destroying the children, causing the homosexuality, being cruel and mean, and otherwise heaping guilt on everyone. Thus, the returns to faith by Julia and others seem to be guilt-ridden attempts at absolution. One character actually says God had to punish him.
So, the hero’s atheism comes off as rational in this movie version. One of the homosexuals at Oxford tells Charles that they all thought he was just the nice guy but he actually is the hunter. So, in a way, Charles is the one who lusts after the fame and fortune of Brideshead. In other words, this movie version turns the novel’s message on its head from a pro-Christian message to an anti-Christian message. Imagine if Peter Jackson had made Saruman and Sauron the heroes and Frodo and Gandalf the villains in LORD OF THE RINGS. That is what a viewer gets while watching this movie.
The character development in BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is very flat. Much of the dialogue is static and too on the nose, explaining overtly as if the viewer won’t catch what’s happening. Emma Thompson does a great job in the role of Lady Marchmain, but everyone else looks miscast. The music in the TV program is great. This movie’s music is over the top.
BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is an example of how you can ruin a good book and a good television series. If you want to revisit Brideshead, rent the TV program or read the book.
(HHH, AbAbAb, PCPCPC, HoHoHo, C, B, L, V, SS, NN, AA, DD, MMM) Very strong humanist, anti-Christian, anti-God worldview with an atheist hero and several statements that God is mean, God is cruel, God destroys people, etc. totally unlike the book and the television program, with very, very strong politically correct, homosexual content, plus mother whose obsessive Roman Catholic faith destroyed her children and some positive Christian statements by minor character; six obscenities and two profanities, plus some vomiting; boy forces head through window, one slap and otherwise not very much violence; homosexual kissing three times, homosexual nude swimming, lots of homosexual discussions, overt adulterous sex scene with partial nudity; full rear male nudity from a high camera shot of two men who are implicitly totally naked, partial rear nudity and bare backs; alcohol use and drinking to get drunk; lots of smoking and some references to drug use; and, sarcasm, envy, jealousy, greed, selfishness, infidelity, man becomes Catholic to marry wealthy Catholic girl, man buys another man’s wife.
In BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, an atheist in England recalls his dealings with an aristocratic Catholic family. Charles, the atheist, comes from a lower middle class home. He goes to Oxford, where he becomes involved with homosexuals. One of them, Sebastian, whose trademark is carrying a teddy bear, falls for Charles and invites him to his manor house, Brideshead. Soon after dallying with Sebastian, however, Charles becomes smitten with Sebastian’s sister, Julia. A lovelorn Sebastian decides to drink himself to death. Sebastian’s mother wants Charles to rescue Sebastian. Charles gets more interested in Julia, but the mother intervenes, which leads to adultery.
The character development in BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is flat. Much of the dialogue is static. Emma Thompson does a great job in the role of Lady Marchmain, but everyone else looks miscast. In the original book by Evelyn Waugh, the Catholic faith makes more and more sense to Charles. At the end, he almost converts. This movie version, however, accuses the mother and God of destroying the children, causing the homosexuality, being cruel and mean, and otherwise heaping guilt on everyone. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is an example of how to ruin a good book.