List Item: Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Title: Brideshead Revisited
Episodes Aired: 11
Episodes Watched: 11
It has been about 11 years since I read Brideshead Revisited. It was part of prep for my first term in sixth form and we had to read three things from a list – which meant I ended up reading The Bell Jar, The Colour Purple and, of course, Brideshead Revisited.
The way I tend to read means that, for most books, I forget most of the character names and events within a few months. This is not the best thing when you are studying for your English Literature A-Level and goes a long way to explain why my marks for Shakespeare and poetry were higher than that module I did where half was on Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
I mention this because I was shocked at how much of this story I remembered. It’s a fairly simple plot line – man gets himself absorbed into the dealings of the aristocratic Flyte family where Catholicism and a rather famous teddy bear might be involved.
Evelyn Waugh’s book could not have been more faithfully adapted in this period drama by the people at ITV. To many this is seen as the gold standard of how to do an adaptation for TV (I would hold up Bleak House personally) and aside from a few slow passages I would find it hard to disagree.
The performances on all fronts are exemplory. There are some issues when it comes to age though. For characters like Charles and Cordelia this could not be helped as they need to span a large age range, but many of the university students are clearly in their 30s.
It’s hard not to single out Anthony Andrews’ performance of Sebastian. For a character that is absent from half the episodes he really is the one you end up remembering. He is able to somehow bridge the gap between the gaiety (in the old sense of the word) and the tragic.
However, I want to focus on Diana Quick as Julia. This is the hardest role of all to play because she somehow has to be, almost be Sebastian in female form (in looks and partially in personality). She looks nothing like Anthony Andrews so she has to let her acting speak for itself. No easy task and she does it really well.
Claire Bloom too as Lady Marchmain was brilliant as were Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier and Phoebe Nicholls. I could go on and on (as you can guess), but I’ll leave the rest to the podcast:
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