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Brideshead Revisited

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Here it is at last: the intelligent movie filmgoers have waited for all year. The film version of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited transforms one of the quintessential novels of the 20th century into one of the grandest, most enriching films of 2008. The 11-part 1981 miniseries was such a milestone in TV history that purists who watch the four-volume DVD set might squabble about the merits of reducing so much artistry into an almost two-and-a-half-hour film. But in the hands of director Julian Jarrold and writers Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies, all of the high points of the sprawling story are artfully preserved in a compelling narrative that leaves you stunned. Trust me. The movie they have made of Brideshead Revisited is a masterpiece. Captain Charles Ryder (sensationally played by Matthew Goode) is a moody British officer in 1944 whose brigade is stationed in a deserted castle called Brideshead, which was once owned by the aristocratic Flyte family. Memories rustle in his mind as he is swept back to 1922 and the days he spent at this estate as a poor Oxford student. Flashbacks cover the next 22 years of his life, which turns into something of a saga as he battles disillusion, failure, heartbreak, class differences and the personal demons of atheism. He enters the sanctified world of the arrogant Flytes quite by accident when their effete and insufferably spoiled youngest son, Lord Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), throws up through an open window in Charles’ unfashionable ground-floor campus digs. Feeling guilty, and intrigued by the handsome loner, Sebastian invites Charles to his elegant rooms for a dinner of Champagne and robin’s eggs, claiming his teddy bear Aloysius refuses to talk to him until he apologizes. Oxford is where worldly and corrupting things always happen in British films to nice boys who turn out to be either homosexuals or spies, or both. For Charles, being sucked into the exotic world of a titled family of staunch Catholic peers in the realm of Protestant England evokes feelings of great emotional intensity. Seduced by the splendor of Sebastian’s country manor at Brideshead—and by Sebastian, too, although their relationship through two decades remains homosexually platonic—Charles becomes a pawn in a power struggle between Sebastian and his draconian mother, Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), to save her sinful son from self-destruction... -Rex Reed, New York Observer Trailer

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Directed by: 
Julian Jarrold
Running Time: 
Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell
Screenplay by: 
Jeremy Brock, Andrew Davies

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