Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited is one of the BBC's dramatic productions which appeared in the US on Masterpiece Theatre. I watched about half of it when it first appeared, but conflicts prevented me from viewing the entire 11 episodes. It become one of the "one of these days" projects, and those days finally arrived a week or so ago.

The public library recently acquired the newly remastered set, and I grabbed it as soon as I heard it was available. I had read the book, but it was so long ago that I can't comment on how closely the film version followed the book.

The casting was excellent:

Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder, the POV character, a first year student at Oxford, who is introduced to the less than studious set by

Sebastian Flyte, played by Anthony Andrews, whose beauty and charm make him loved by almost all, except for those faculty and students who believe university life is serious and filled with studying.

Diana Quick, as Julia, Sebastian's sister, much like her brother, a very unconventional young lady.

Claire Bloom, in the role of Lady Marchmain, Sebastian and Diana's mother, whose strong Catholic faith isn't always appreciated by her children and never by her estranged husband

Lord Marchmain, played by Laurence Olivier, who fled England for Venice because of his hatred of his wife.

Sir John Gielgud as Edward Ryder, Charles Ryder's eccentric? father. Gielgud does an outstanding job here playing a role that has to be seen to be appreciated. There's no way I can describe the character of Edward Ryder.

Nickolas Grace plays the flamboyant Anthony Blanche, another student at Oxford whom Ryder meets through Sebastian.

The setting matched the casting: beautiful outdoor scenery while the indoor locations were lavish and striking. The only disappointment was that there were so few scenes set in Venice.

I would rank this as BBC's best production, at least it's the best one I've seen, and I've seen a number of them. It is well worth the 12-13 hours of viewing.


  1. I loved this miniseries when I watched it back in the 80's. I had also read the book years ago. I need to search it out and watch it again. I'd also like to find copies of the old series "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "The Pallisers". I used to like both of those alot.

  2. Cheryl,

    First, you might try your local library. That's where I found _Brideshead Revisited_. It's also on Netflix.

    Netflix also has the 12 disc _Palliser series_, as well as all 5 seasons of _Upstairs, Downstairs_, with each season having 3-4 discs.

    I'm going to get the "Palliser" series sometime early next year.

  3. If Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a BBC production, as I think it was, I would probably rank that ahead of Brideshead Revisited.

  4. Extollager,

    I agree that _Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy_ was an outstanding dramatic presentation. The only area in which _Brideshead Revisited_ was superior to _TTTS_ was in the settings--the houses, locales, period costuming, etc. In all other aspects, casting, dialogue, etc, I would rank them equal, even if considerably different.