Two young men meet at Oxford. Charles Ryder, though of no family or money, becomes friends with Sebastian Flyte when Sebastian throws up in his college room through an open window. He then ...
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In the spring of 1944, Capt. Charles Ryder finds that he and his men are relocated to the grounds of Brideshead Castle. Charles knows the place well and he recalls a time 20 years before when he met ...
Sebastian's decline continues and there is little anyone seems able to do about it. He is terribly unhappy about his family situation and seems bent on destroying any relationships he may still have ...
Charles and Sebastian return to Oxford but feel old and out of place. Sebastian feels that his mother is constantly watching him through her friends. In particular, both young men have to put up with...
The British Raj: though their position seems secure, thoughtful English men and women know that "their" time in India is coming to an end. The story begins with an unjust arrest for rape, ... See full summary »
The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon ... See full summary »
Nyree Dawn Porter
Two young men meet at Oxford. Charles Ryder, though of no family or money, becomes friends with Sebastian Flyte when Sebastian throws up in his college room through an open window. He then invites Charles to lunch after his teddy bear Aloysius 'refuses to talk to him' unless he is forgiven. Charles becomes involved with Sebastian's family, Catholic peers of the realm in Protestant England. The story is told in flashback as Charles, now an officer in the British Army, is moved with his company to an English country house that he discovers to be Brideshead, Sebastian's family home where Charles has a series of memories of his youth and young manhood, his loves, life, and a journey of faith and anguish. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Evelyn Waugh's 'Brideshead Revisited' is, I think, the quintessential and the finest novel of the twentieth century - English literature at its highest form. And this 1981 miniseries does the novel great justice: its episodes give us television's finest hours.
The splendid cast makes the most of the rich script, which is as faithful to a novel as a script can be. My favorite is Phoebe Nicholls as Lady Cordelia: her performance is disarming, utterly charming. And Nickolas Grace plays to the hilt the sybaritic, viper-tongued Anthony Blanche.
Jeremy Irons does sterling service as the narrator, Charles Ryder, who is, after all, Waugh's observant eye and eloquent tongue; Irons depicts poignantly Ryder's "conversion to the Baroque" crashing to bits against the cold gracelessness of "The Age of Hooper". As the rapidly dissolving Lord Sebastian Flyte Anthony Andrews is memorable - should Waugh's book ever again be adapted for the screen the lot of the actor cast as Sebastian will not be enviable.
Claire Bloom's Lady Marchmain is a study in quiet dignity upheld vainly in the face of the twentieth century's ravaging of her character's world and sensibilities. Sir Laurence Olivier's Lord Marchmain is letter-perfect; and in the deathbed sequences Olivier's performance is tenderly, expertly nuanced.
Diana Quick was a bit too old to play convincingly the debutante Lady Julia of the early episodes, but in the later ones Quick hits perfectly every disillusioned, jaded, repentant note. Charles Keating as Rex, who inhabits a "harsh acquisitive world", is an exemplar of shallowness, of the venality Waugh detested - and satirized so hilariously in his earlier novels: he's nothing more than a Hooper with money and ambition.
Simon Jones gives us Bridey's stodginess and bewliderment with marvelous understatement. John Gielgud steals every scene as Charles's father Edward, brilliantly interpreting of one of Waugh's most delicious, yet indigestible characters.
There are rich offerings, too, from character actors: Stephane Audran glows warmly as Clara, Lord Marchmain's insightful, intuitive, down-to-earth mistress; John LeMesurier leaves us suitably agape as the Jesuit Father Mowbray baffled and dismayed by Rex's utilitarian approach to his conversion to Catholicism; Jeremy Sinden sails naively along as the indefatigable yet ever-dimwitted and clueless Boy Mulcaster; Ronald Fraser stirs just the right sloshing of queasiness as the peculiar, opportunistic shipboard cocktail party guest; Jonathan Coy, as the parlous, seedy Kurt, is perfectly repellent; Jane Asher tiptoes delicately through Celia Ryder's conventional, porcelain sensibilities; and Mona Washbourne knits a thoughtful, lovely portrait of Nanny Hawkins.
Throughout 'Brideshead Revisited' the photography is lush, meticulous, yet tasteful. The score is understated, never intrusive, always complementary. Costuming, set design and, above all, location, are unrivalled. Charles Sturridge's direction is evenhanded, assured - and his pacing of the narrative treads adroitly every beautifully-modulated beat.
I bought the DVD version of this series and, though occasional bits of the image transfer are a trifle fuzzy and the sound re-recording is sometimes uneven, the nicely boxed set of discs pleased - and goes on pleasing - me greatly.
In the early third millennium, a time of evermore immature programming and production executives - a dismal age of TV's Hoopers, I have to suspect sadly that television will never again attain the heights to which 'Brideshead Revisited' vaulted. But I shall remain ever grateful for this magnificent series.
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