Saturday, August 2, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

“Can you imagine what it was like to be invited to Brideshead?” Charles Ryder asks of his lover, Lady Julia Flynt in the movie Brideshead Revisited.

In this movie, Charles Ryder, a young man of neither wealth nor social status, befriends Sebastian Flynt at Oxford. The two enjoy each other’s company immensely and spend many an afternoon drinking and playing together. Sebastian invites Charles to his home, Brideshead, where Charles, a proclaimed atheist, encounters the Aristocratic Roman Catholic Flynt family. During a trip to Venice to meet Sebestian’s adulterous father, Charles falls in love with Sebestian’s sister, Lady Julia. Julia’s mother, however, will not allow the marriage due to the difference in religious background. Sebestian, meanwhile, slips further into habits of drinking.

Charles and Julia meet several years later each other on a ship after her mother’s death, and, though each are married to other people, begin a love affair. Julia eventually cuts the affair off, since ‘living in sin’ would ‘cut her off from His mercy’.

The movie ends to find Ryder, at the grisly age of 39, once again at Brideshead, which had been turned into a military barracks. After a quizzical visit into the Chapel, the viewer is left to think that perhaps Ryder’s encounter of the Flynt family has left him with a spark of faith.

Based on the book by Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited deals with the theme of Grace, which is the uninvited gift from God. Ryder, perhaps, “wanted too much” from the Flynt family. “He wanted so much to be liked”. During a visit to Sebestian at the monastery where he was being taken care of as an alcoholic, Sebestian tells Charles that “only God can give you that kind of love”.

Although the movie was good and I recommend it, I think that this story is perhaps to lengthy to fit into a two hour showing, and that the BBC version that came out in the early 80s captured the story much better. Plus if you watch the BBC version you get to see Jeremy Irons in full-bloom.

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