I just finished reading “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh last night and watched the film version directed by Julian Jarrod this afternoon. I must say the book is quite a difficult read but engrossing and entertaining nonetheless. The Brideshead in the title pertains to the estate the Flyte owns and the grandeur of the place is reminiscent of the popular television series, “Dowtown Abbey”. It is set in mid 1930s, a time when modern transportation, or motorized vehicles has just been introduced and the waning to obscurity of horse-drawn carriages was featured, along with the luxurious feel of the English countryside, successfully attained through the stunningly beautiful cinemetography. The book version focuses more on the friendship between Charles Ryder and his Oxford pal Sebastian Flyte, told in the point of view of the former. Eventually as the story progresses, he,(Charles) becomes close to the family and rightfully gives the reader a first-hand account inside the mysterious family, cloaked by English propriety and affluence. Religion, or Catholicism in general, weighs heavily on all the characters that it dictates their actions, behaviors and the aftermath of their piety and its effects, good or bad.
After reading this book and Atonement the previous month, I find England at the turn of the century, has prominent attitudes toward the concept of servantitude that it somehow made me feel lazy and just want to read and drink more coffee or tea. But then I’m back to reality and people nowadays don’t just give orders (unless they still have servants) but instead do things on their own. It also evoked painful memories of my recently-deceased brother, because like Sebastian Flyte, he had it all in the beginning and to end up like they did due to their battle with alcoholism, made me ponder a lot about life thereby prolonging my finishing this said book.
The film version was a disapointment because it greatly altered some crucial events in the book just to make it all come together, with poor results. It was done in a frantic manner-ending up with a considerable screenplay that I did’nt find faithful to the book. For one, I did’nt think Sebastian was too flamboyant and so obviously gay and the movie focuses more on the love affair between the hero and the badly miscast Julia (I can imagine Kiera Knightley). The saving grace of the movie was the said cinemetography, the shots were too picturesque, with a postcard-like feel to it. The screenplay, though poor compared to the book, has a memorable line that will reverberate in my head for some time, the scene where Charles visited Sebastian,poor and sick, in a Moroccan infirmary “…don’t end it like this, Sebastian”.