Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brideshead, Revisited

This week I finished the BBC miniseries (1981?) Brideshead Revisited and was thankful for the recommendations to watch it. It's amazingly faithful to the novel and brought home the genius of Waugh again to me. And it made me further think about the differences between Waugh and Hollywood's Brideshead. The difference, it seems to me, is one that orbits about the idea of romance. You see, Brideshead Revisited is a romance, but of an entirely undecipherable kind to Hollywood - it is a love story in which Julia chooses God over Charles. It is a love story that rightly portrays God as one who refuses to lose Julia or Sebastian and Lord Marchmain, or even dear Charles Ryder. And, pitiably, all Hollywood can achieve is to try to portray a cold religion that interrupts and ruins and makes miserable the love between Julia and Charles. But Waugh's love story is vertical. (And it oddly reminds me of the ending of C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces.) It is the burning flame near the tabernacle within the chapel at Brideshead that consumes the vanity of Hollywood's version, that burns quiet and faithful until all our vanities are consumed - until we burn as it burns.

1 comment:

alison said...

In general you are much safer with a BBC miniseries than a Hollywood movie. Another example of this would be Pride and Prejudice.