I love Brideshead Revisited. The novel is an integral part of me I have read it so many times. Yes, the 1980s mini-series may have clouded my view of the novel when I first read it since the mini-series was always on at my house when my brother and I were growing up. Indeed, my brother as a two year old endeavoured to name a teddy bear he received as a gift Aloysius. Try getting a two year old to say Aloysius.
But the mini-series was incredibly true to the book. And the influence of the mini-series didn’t affect my reading for long as I kept re-reading the book and discovering new layers and complexities. Literary criticism of Waugh also helped form my opinions, as did reading Waugh’s other, sinfully delicious satires.
That’s why I have a bit of a problem with this.
I recognize that it is a struggle to fit a complex novel into the time restraints of a major motion picture. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely mis-read the entire novel. The novel IS nostalgic! Yes, Charles is seduced by the wealth and status of the Marchmain family, but he’s also a middle-aged man looking back on his past life and contemplating all he’s been though. Contemplating his introduction to Catholicism, his great love, and his loss of that love.
Yes, Julia is his great love. Sebastian is just a pre-cursor (as Cara so helpfully points out in the novel). That doesn’t mean that Julia all of the sudden has to pop up in Italy with Sebastian and Charles. Charles doesn’t love Julia yet. Charles is still having his puerile fascination with Sebastian, which will in turn allow him to love Julia as deeply as he will. That’s the whole point of the summer Charles spends with the Marchmain family. And Julia is meant to still be the good English girl at this point, not some sexually-awakened harlot. That’s what the whole marriage to Rex is for!
And Hooper! Hooper is not supposed to represent hope! He’s supposed to represent the degradation of British society and what will happen to it after the war. He’s a good man, but he’s neither articulate nor well-educated nor a leader. Waugh wasn’t democratic! That’s the whole point! You can’t just ignore the novelist’s plot devices because you don’t like his politics!
All of that being said, the film comes out Stateside on 1 August. Seeing as I will be back in the States a few days after that, I’m going to see it. My mother has already sent me an email informing of this fact. Plus, I don’t really mind paying to watch Matthew Goode cavort around screen in period clothing. I’m sure I’ll be back with a review afterwards.