Brideshead Returns

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Having been a big fan of the 1981 mini series, I was excited to hear that Brideshead Revisited was coming to the big screen. Not able to persuade my husband to accompany me, I went to Chelsea Clearview Cinema with a friend (fittingly from England).

Visually stunning, the film travels from historic Oxford to the title country estate to Venice. Reminiscent of Atonement, the story similarly takes place among the English aristocracy around the onset of WWII and the clothes are fabulous. The plot revolves around a young painter’s involvement with a wealthy, Catholic family and the love triangle that develops as a result.

I haven’t seen the mini series in nearly 10 years, so my memory might not be completely accurate. But I did feel that this new version differed in a few striking ways. The first thing that struck me was Sebastian’s character. While Anthony Andrews played a very seductive Sebastian who had seemed to me “the pursued” rather than “pursuer”, Ben Wishaw’s Sebastian was much – well, gayer. And he certainly filled the role of pursuer, which I felt did change the dynamics of their relationship considerably.

Also, the presence of religion seemed a much more integral part of the plot then I remember from the mini series. Similarly, I barely remember Lady Marchmain from the original, but Emma Thompson’s intense portrayal made the character a much more vital role.

Having never read the book, I’m not sure which version is closer. But the beauty and the acting in this new version makes Brideshead definitely worth revisiting.

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