Monday, February 16, 2009


I watched Brideshead Revisited last weekend and then checked out the book from the library. I rarely do this - watch the movie first, read the novel second. Laura had seen the previews, however, and was interested, so I put it in our Netflix queue. I had heard vague charges of anti-Catholicism about the movie, but knew little of Waugh and less of his faith. I knew the book was supposed to have been borne out of his Catholicism, his being a convert, and after watching the movie, I knew that the film could not be a fair representation of his book. The movie is quite anti-Catholic, which is fine, if you don't mind the story saying the opposite thing the author meant for the story. One thing is sure, the book is profoundly Catholic, with an agnostic narrator, without feeling at all pushy or tract-like. It simply is the story of a family. It's not a story about being Catholic so much as it is a story of grace (which for some of us are the same thing). The movie, just as the book, is gorgeous, and received four stars from me for its luxuriousness. And what the movie could not do, and what a movie cannot do unless written to do so, is strip the mercy and grace intrinsic within characters simply because they are played by actors, by persons. There is sympathy or compassion there yet - an angel stirring the waters even though the angel was not welcome.

The novel is more glorious than the movie. I still found the film quite moving, however, though in a tragic sense rather than in the hope and grace that is impressed upon one while reading the novel. I would love to hear from those of you who have both read the book and seen the movie. What are your impressions? If you're not Catholic, what are your impressions of the novel? If you're unsympathetic to Catholicism, the movie will undoubtedly confirm your worser suspicions of our faith, as there are plenty of cliched Catholics present. Similar characters are also present in the book, but the difference in the book is that the book also has the real thing, and not just the cliche. But I need to re-read it to draw any better conclusions.

I also picked up The End of the Affair by Graham Greene from the library and am enjoying it now. I may say a word or two about it when I finish.


kkollwitz said...

I have avoided the movie, haven't read the book (yet), but loved the miniseries. If you ever watch it, I'd like to know how you find it.

Huh...haven't read End of the Affair, but saw the recent movie of that novel. I've read other Greene novels, remember them well, especially The Power & the Glory, possibly the best novel I've ever read.

Congrats on child win!

Unless we count my grandson.

Dan said...

I would certainly enjoy a few words or two about The End of the Affair when you're finished. I read it a few months ago and was very moved by it. And it's good to see that your Muse is back in business. By the way, what kinds of chocolates do you and Laura like?

Scott Lyons said...

Dan, the chocolate variety are our favorite chocolates. Certainly anything you've ever mentioned on your blog has been drooled over. Anything similar.

Almost finished with The End of the Affair. Christian, I've thought about getting the miniseries, on your recommendation I'll have to pick it up. Did you like the movie version of End of the Affair? I haven't seen it, but it would be interesting to see what they did with Sarah and her journal.

Dan said...

FWIW, I was at a conference where a professor of English from Moody spoke about the movie version, and she said that it was awful, and focused more on the actual affair than the lessons surrounding of sacrificial love.

Scott Lyons said...

Very true, Dan - and so it did. It also made Catholicism look ultimately destructive, which is the opposite of what the book does. The screenplay was written by someone who "[did] not share the author's view of religion." And who said, I believe, that in his version, if there were a God, God would be the enemy.

That being said, and comparisons to the novel aside, the movie is beautiful though tragic and rather hopeless. Honestly, the movie is almost entirely faithful to the events in the book except (and this is a monumental exception) in its treatment of faith and grace. The differences are telling.