Friday, August 21, 2009

Must Watch Friday: Brideshead Revisited

Michelle Styles reveals her current summer viewing -- Brideshead Revisited.

There is something about a country house, languid afternoons and a teddy bear. I will admit to being a fan of Brideshead Revisited -- both the book and the 1981 (updated because in fact I cannot type!) television adaptation. I first really came to it 19 years ago when I was pregnant with my eldest and am currently rewatching it for the I do not know many timeth. Each time, it does cast its spell and I love living in that world.
I did not bother with the recent film adaptation as I understand that Julia goes to Venice with Charles and Sebastian. The whole point of Venice is that it is the high point of the Charles/Sebastian relationship. It is when Charles suddenly realises that his friendship with Sebastian might not be long lasting. Indeed as Charles is drawn into the Flyte household, his relationship with Sebastian changes.
So what is about Brideshead? Why does it manage to hold my attention?
It is superb acting -- Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick are all magnificent.
It is the fantastic setting of Castle Howard. Certainly when the tv programme was first shown in the US, it captured the imagination. Suddenly English country houses were in vogue.
It is the score. There is something about the score that is peaceful tranquil.
Ultimately it is the story about the dysfunctional between the wars family and how they each react to life's passion and the constraints of Catholicism. It is also the story of a journey and how Charles Ryder realises too late its importance. There is just something majestic about it. And it is the perfect viewing for lazy summer days.
This is a short clip which is set to the Brideshead score and it gives something of the flavour.

Michelle Styles adores English country houses, long summer afternoons but wonders why she never gets plover eggs. Her next book, The Vikings Captive Princess is out in the US in December 09.


  1. I saw the recent adaptation with Emma Thompson - it was okay.

    Better than that was the BBC radio version. Of course Jamie Bamber was Sebastian which added to the allure...

  2. Haven't seen the recent adapation (even though I do think Emma Thompson is very talented). Can't see how ANYONE can top the Irons/Andrews/Quick version, which was so perfectly acted.

    I thought it was a fair bit earlier than 1989, though - I'd have said 1982 because I remember everyone in the lower sixth having a huge crush on Anthony Andrews because of the series. (Actually, it might even have been fifth form, which would make it 1981. Urr. I feel ancient, today.)

  3. EEk, I put 1989! It was 1981. I will go and change that.