Monday, September 08, 2008

Brideshead Revisited Revisited

I am in the midst of a new knitting project, an argyle vest for one of my hosts on the recent Edinburgh jaunt, and it's making me miss television. Knitting for an adult reminds me that adults are considerably larger than children, and so there are more stitches and more rows than I've become accustomed to as a knitting grandma. Once of my Soup Salon regulars offered to lend me her 25th anniversary DVD edition of the complete Brideshead Revisited series, and I took her up on the offer. Several things happened.

The original production, 11 episodes, was broadcast in 1981, and had a huge audience. I thought I was one of them, but it seems I don't remember a single thing about the plot, confusing it with other lavish British TV dramas like Jewel in the Crown and Upstairs, Downstairs. Maybe I never saw it? I was traveling a lot for work at the time, and it might have been playing on my hotel room TV while I fell asleep. Maybe I'm just suffering from senile dementia, but if I am, it means I can watch all the movies I saw in my youth as if for the first time.

Anyhow, in case you haven't seen it either, or also forgot, it is the story of some Oxford guys who live an opulent life. Charles, the protagonist, falls in love with Sebastian, a charming and beautiful toff who lives in a castle (Brideshead) and also a town house in London to die for. Sebastian pouts and makes scenes, never grows up and becomes a dissolute alcoholic in Morrocco, while Charles becomes a successful painter and falls in love with Sebastian's sister, Julia. All of this takes 11 hours to show. 11 hours of eye candy. Evelyn Waugh wrote the book, and wanted to dramatize and personalize a conflict between British upper-class Catholicism (I didn't even know there was any) and secular Protestantism during the period between WWI and WWII.

I learned a few things from watching this:
1. English people in the 1930's never heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or twelve-step programs
2. People with unlimited wealth can make themselves miserable
3. Agnostic Protestants shouldn't fall in love with believing Catholics and vice versa
4. I can finish the back of an adult's sweater in 13 hours (including 2 for the "extras" like director's and actors' commentaries, and outtakes.


Anonymous said...

Re #1. : AA was developed in the US in the mid-1930s. By 1939 it's thought that the group only had 100 members.

Claude said...

There was a teatotaller society I think, but it was of no concern to anyone in Brideshead revisited ;)
A few years ago, I visited Castle Howard where the series was shot. A splendid place