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Books to Movies…"Brideshead Revisited"

March 31, 2010

BR was the first movie I have watched that was based on one of the ML books I’ve read. Before watching the movie, I read several reviews of the movie online, and most people were lukewarm about it, saying that it didn’t follow the book, etc. Most of the actors in the movie, excepting Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain and the guy from the Harry Potter movies who plays Professor Dumbledore as Lord Marchmain, I had never seen before. Plus I didn’t really love the book. So my expectations weren’t incredibly high…thus I was pleasantly surprised by the movie.

I’ll start with the positive. For the most part, the movie followed the book. The scenery was beautiful. The house they picked to act as Brideshead was gorgeous and almost exactly as I had pictured it myself. My daughter, who for some inexplicable reason watched the movie with me, pointed out that this same house was used in Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties. I’ll have to check that out. 🙂 The acting, I thought, was very good. The girl they picked to play Julia was gorgeous. Rex Mottram was just as smarmy as I had pictured him in the book, and they even had the tortoise, although Julia’s initials weren’t in the shell. Emma Thompson was perfect as the cold, calculating Lady Marchmain (but when isn’t she wonderful?). Overall, it was nice to see what I’d read brought to life.

The negative. The movie, as movies often do, took some liberties with the book, but I’m not sure that the liberties really detracted from the overall story. The movie developed the love story between Charles and Julia much earlier than the book did, having them fall in love in Venice during the visit to see Lord Marchmain (Julia didn’t even go with them to Venice in the book). Sebastian sees Charles kissing Julia and that moment is used as the reason for Sebastian’s downward spiral and distancing from Charles. Sebastian’s character was way more flamboyant and overtly homosexual than his character in the book…which I actually didn’t enjoy. I guess I preferred the book’s more ‘under the table’ treatment of Sebastian’s persuasion than I did seeing it outright. I felt that Waugh left it up to the reader to decide whether or not that dimension to Charles’ and Sebastian’s friendship existed. A scene from Julia’s debutante ball in the movie didn’t exist in the book. Her engagement to Rex is announced there and Sebastian accuses Charles in front of everyone of ‘wanting to sleep with his sister’. There is also a scene in the movie between Charles and Rex where Charles asks Rex to divorce Julia, and Rex agrees to, on the condition that Charles give Rex two of his “jungle pics” as payment. This didn’t happen in the book either.

Overall, I’m not sorry I watched it. Sadly I think I had a better feeling about the movie than I did the book. My daughter has encouraged me to track down more of the movies from the books I’ve read, as every book I’ve read has become almost a household name for us. 🙂

Grade: B

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