I don’t mean to be contrarian, but I suspect that the remake of Brideshead Revisited which Nathaniel mentions may not be as promising as he thinks. I wrote a little bit about the outrageously silly trailer : The new adaptation seems remarkable mostly because Emma Thompson’s Lady Marchmain is re-imagined as the villain of the piece.

It’s an open question as to whether the new version of Brideshead excises the Church from the story (as I’ve heard) or worse. A friend sends me this astonishing essay by screenwriter Jeremy Brock, who penned the new adaptation. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s a taste:

The moment you read Evelyn Waugh’s novel, you discover how fresh and contemporary its themes feel. Though set in the rarefied world of the aristocracy between the wars, it still speaks directly to many of the issues that count as “current”: religious fundamentalism, class, sexual tolerance, the pursuit of individualism . . . .

Contrary to some reports, God is not the villain of our adaptation. The villain is man-made theology; the emotional and moral contortions forced on to individuals by their adherence to a particular set of codes and practices. Inevitably, as in Waugh’s novel, the film debates the merits and demerits of such belief systems in people’s lives.

As for the sex, I’ve always believed there’s a visceral relationship between a yearning for spiritual bliss and sexual ecstasy. Look no further than Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St Teresa. Like laughing and crying, sex and religion are twins. The film will not shy away from that.

But in the end, my reason for taking on this adaptation was simple. Waugh’s novel is a gloriously subtle and original love story that deserves the big-screen treatment.

Spend your $10.50 at your own risk.

Articles by Jonathan V. Last

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