Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brideshead Reconstituted

Last night I saw a screening of the remake ,big screen version of Brideshead Revisited. The breathtaking panorama of the grounds , the water fountain in front of one of the most heart brakingly beautiful homes (same as the original) was so exquisite I audibly gasped. The setting was so lovely my eyes started to tear. No exaggeration..... but from there , like the 3 miles long rolling drive leading to it's courtyard, the film tumbled inexorably down hill.
You would think that no farthing would be spared to breathe life into this film. Those of us who caught it the first time around were glued to every word, every gesture that was played with such extraordinary grace . The world fell in love with Jeremy Irons and the rest of the Marchmain family. Unfortunately the only person with real gravitas was Emma Thompson , the Lady of the manor. She was drawn as an over zealous catholic, fundamentalist Medea. I don't even remember the rest of the cast or the original story. All was altered ,sheared and redrawn. Waugh would have been so horrified by the hack job of his story.
Well, in this case too many tuppence were spared in this low budget pot boiler. I figured that at worst it would be a fabulous costume drama with tons of beautiful clothes and jewels , even art and objet. Instead the house was empty, we saw perhaps 3 out of 100 rooms with little or no decoration. One had the feeling, the director snuck the production in through the cellar door, shot it as fast as possible and hoped a pursed lip or a chaste kiss between Sebastian and Charles would carry us through. It didn't work for me. The clothes didn't even approach the couture of that period . Some costumes were actually hideous and the visuals left way too much to the imagination. The focus of the plot switched to Charles' romance with Sebastian's sister, Julia, poor Sebastian was shuttled off stage left and I was stuck waiting for the credits to roll.
This one is perhaps worth renting but by no means a MUST SEE.
It was more Brideshead Reconstituted than anything else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! Like everyone else who has seen the 1981series, I have to ask why anyone would go to the trouble of making a 2 hour version of this to the 12 hours of the original. If the costumes, setting and art design don't measure up, double why???