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Brideshead Revisited

3.2 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Inspired by the best-selling novel, the provocative and intense Brideshead Revisited is a riveting drama of forbidden love, power and betrayal, featuring stunning performances by Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson (Best Actress, Howards End, 1993) and Matthew Goode (Cemetery Junction). When the charming aristocrat Sebastian invites Charles Ryder (Goode) to his family's estate, Charles becomes seduced by their opulent lifestyle...and by Sebastian's sister (Golden Globe® nominee Hayley Atwell). As their romance deepens, Charles discovers that at Brideshead, love, money, and power come at a price.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell
  • Directors: Julian Jerrold
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005GRF2ZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
When I first heard of this film I found it hard to imagine how anyone could succeed in cramming the complex narrative of Brideshead Revisited into the 120 minute format that seems to be the norm for cinema these days, maybe as a favour to audiences suffering from attention deficit disorder. Still, I didn't expect much from Pride & Prejudice the movie, yet found myself enjoying that pretty well, so I took my chances with Brideshead too. But this time the experience was rather less satisfying, to put it mildly.

For someone familiar with the large, intricate, subtly tinted canvases of Waugh's book and the phenomenal TV-series, this is like seeing a hasty copy executed in crude strokes and garish colours. Within 20 minutes from the start Charles and Sebastian aren't just friends, they actually appear to be lovers. The gay thing is plastered on way too thick and goes far beyond anything suggested by Waugh. The way the storyline is distorted, it makes it seems as if Sebastian starts drinking out of frustration over Charles's rejection of him in favour of his sister Julia. This is a result of the extreme conflation of elements from Waugh's story, which uproots its refined psychological dynamics. Indeed, subtlety is nowhere to be found; the Flytes in this movie are a pretty vulgar bunch, and Sebastian's Oxford circle too has none of the aristocratic manners and sophisticated wit we would expect from them.
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Any film of Brideshead Revisited will inevitably be compared with the 1981 mini-series, and will suffer from the comparison. Evelyn Waugh's novel was so rich and detailed that any attempt to depict it in a mere 2 hours or so will be wanting. I am a fan of the mini-series, which I have watched countless times, and I want to make it clear that there are many things about this version that I find very appealing: the use of Castle Howard, the fine acting by Michael Gambon, Emma Thompson, Hayley Atwell, Ben Whishaw, and Matthew Goode, and the beautiful sets and costumes.

Unfortunately the need to compress the story distorts much of what Evelyn Waugh intended. By making the love affairs between Charles Ryder and Sebastian and Julia Flyte occur nearly simultaneously instead of Charles first loving Sebastian and then years later falling in love with Julia, Waugh's message of spiritual and emotional growth is blunted. More troubling is the lack of positive emphasis on Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Whereas in the book and the mini-series Lady Marchmain is a tragic, sympathetic figure, the film emphasizes her hauteur and coldness. This has larger immplications than just a difference in interpretation, since Lady Marchmain in large part represents the Church. Furthermore, I am especially disappointed by the ending. In the book and mini-series we see an affirmation of both new and enduring faith, while the film is far more equivocal.

Despite these reservations, I do value this film and intend to watch it many times. While Waugh himself would be horrified over some of the modifications (he would call them distortions), this new interpretation of his work is beautiful in its own right, and its ambiguities are a challenge which allows us to re-examine our own beliefs.
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Having read Waugh's classic on the "tugs" of faith and watched the original mini-series more times then I remember over almost thirty years now, I seriously doubted this story could be condensed into two hours. A last, I was not disappointed! It wasn't the same story. The movie twists and turns in directions never written by Waugh. (Sadly as Andrew Davies, one of the films writers, has done excellent work over the years.) This, however, is not another version of Brideshead Revisted but a new creation; a creation built more on pretty scenery and anti-climatic moments lost to all depth of the characters.

The underlying issues of faith and religious up-bringing are totally lost, spun into a broad statement about Catholicism rather then its personal meaning to individual lives. The central message of the book has been stripped to a minor secondary theme. The faith journey is lost.

Charles' relationship with Sebastian is dumbed down to mere sexual experimentation rather then human bond. This Charles would never carry his feelings for Sebastian throughout his life. Without the former, you cannot truly grasp the latter relationship with Julia. The relationships are separate not concurrent, they are paths on his journey to faith. Sadly the desire and depth of Charles and Julia's relationship, so strongly captured in the mini-series "Orphans of the Storm" episode, is totally lost here. In this, their reunion seems more like a 3AM quickie.

Take the $20 you planned on spending for this, add another $20 and buy the mini-series instead. The larger investment returns so much more....so much more!
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