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13:11 

One of my favourite moments in the mini-series, and a rare...

Brideshead
contra mundum


One of my favourite moments in the mini-series, and a rare moment where, although the series stray from the book, I love the addition.




@: mini-series, jeremy irons, charles ryder, brideshead revisited, all of the feels

URL
02:17 

scrabblesaturdays: I waspleasantlysurprised to find out that...

Brideshead
contra mundum


scrabblesaturdays:



I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these scenes from Brideshead Revisited (1981) were filmed in Malta (thats where I live, If by now you havent realized), supposedly as Morocco.





@: films, geography, mini-series

URL
22:01 

scratchesofink: Castle Howard. England. most of it was built...

Brideshead
contra mundum


scratchesofink:



Castle Howard. England.


most of it was built from 1699-1712.





@: 2008, brideshead, films, mini-series

URL
06:00 

The original 1981 production was so influential that it had all...

Brideshead
contra mundum



The original 1981 production was so influential that it had all of America wearing cricket sweaters and vintage linen vestsand even eventually inspired Marc Jacobs seminal spring 2005 Louis Vuitton mens collection, which included an LV teddy bear.





@: I like getting drunk at luncheons, fashion, mini-series, motifs

URL
05:00 

scratchesofink: Castle Howard. England not really a castle....

Brideshead
contra mundum


scratchesofink:



Castle Howard. England


not really a castle. (well thats a little bit of false advertising, huh?)





@: 2008, brideshead, films, mini-series

URL
02:00 

scratchesofink: Castle Howard, England. Destination 40. one of...

Brideshead
contra mundum


scratchesofink:



Castle Howard, England. Destination 40.


one of the grandest private residencies in Britain.





@: mini-series, films, brideshead, 2008

URL
05:11 

"Sebastian got straight to bed; I sat by his fire and smoked a pipe. I said: I rather wish I..."

Brideshead
contra mundum
Sebastian got straight to bed; I sat by his fire and smoked a pipe. I said: I rather wish I was coming out with you tomorrow.

Well, he said, you wouldnt see much sport. I can tell you exactly what Im going to do. I shall leave Bridey at the first covert, hack over to the nearest good pub and spend the entire day quietly soaking in the bar parlour. If they treat me like a dipsomaniac, they can bloody well have a dipsomaniac. I hate hunting, anyway.

- In the mini-series we can often see Jeremy Irons smoking a pipe, too. Paula Byrne (along with other biographers) claims that Evelyn Waugh himself learnt to smoke a pipe during his first terms in Oxford.


@: charles, mini-series, motifs, waugh

URL
00:39 

John Gielgud

Brideshead
contra mundum


John Gielgud




@: mini-series, waugh

URL
03:10 

Castle Howard and the Myth of "Brideshead Revisited"

Brideshead
contra mundum

By Steve Bergsman


I started reading the books of the English writer Evelyn Waugh just a few years ago when I discovered his dry British humor and sardonic observations in such books as Scoop and Vile Bodies. I never picked up his most popular novel, Brideshead Revisited, however, for two reasons: It was a more serious turn of literature for Waugh, and I had seen the popular Masterpiece Theater production starring Jeremy Irons when it appeared on U.S. television in the early 1980s as well as the more recent cinematic production starring Emma Thompson.


Both productions used the same manor house, Castle Howard outside York, England, as the location for what cinematically was called Brideshead. Although it is still in use today as the home of Simon Howard and his family, the mansion is open for visitation. The day I was there, the parking lot was full of people who had come to walk through the extensive grounds and gardens, to visit an extraordinary mansion with its great art, and to see a home so closely associated with Brideshead Revisited and its cinematic incarnations.


When I asked a tour guide whether Castle Howard was the location Waugh had in mind when he wrote or the association came later, his response was, Certain references to Brideshead in the book suggest this home was the inspiration for the fictional manse, but there is no record of Waugh ever visiting Castle Howard before writing his book.


The real Castle Howard, as opposed to the fictional Brideshead, boasts a life worthy of a good book. It was designed in 1699 by Sir John Vanbrugh, a playwright who had never designed a home, and it took more than 100 years to complete. In 1940, a fast-moving fire destroyed the manors magnificent dome, numerous rooms and artwork that was priceless nine Canalettos disappeared in the conflagration. The house was then boarded up.


George Howard returned home after service in World War II and decided to restore the family property. Much of the restoration has been accomplished, including the dome, but there are still rooms and spaces undone and that is one of the reasons Granada Television in 1981 and Hollywood in 2008 came calling. They were able to use the empty spaces to create fictional Brideshead rooms while using the remainder of the home, exterior, grounds and gardens for other shots.


My iconic memory of both cinematic versions of the story is the first time the protagonist, Charles Ryder, arrives with Sebastian Flyte, his university friend, to Flytes home and sees the grandeur of the mansion for the first time.


A two-lane road cuts through grounds of the estate for what seems like a mile or more, then passes through gates in the various walls before the building, partly obscured by trees, appears in the distance. Today visitors enter through a ticket office that was once the propertys stable and courtyard. Once through the gates, however, in the distance sits Castle Howard in all its glory. Its a five- to 10-minute walk to the home, depending on how fast one walks and whether one is diverted by the walled gardens. In the center of the formal gardens sits the Atlas Fountain, an important venue in both film versions of the Brideshead story.


The entryway to the home is at the head of the wing to the right of real main entrance.


<sript language=javasript src=adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5235/1290674/0/... onClick=return adgo(5512,7495,this.href); href=adserver.adtechus.com/adlink/3.0/5235/1290674/0... target=_blank;key=key1+key2+key3+key4;grp=52810><img src=adserver.adtechus.com/adserv/3.0/5235/1290674/0... border=0 width=300 height=250></a></noscript>

This is a good place to start because the stairwell leading up to the second floor is lined with the grand portraits of the first six Earls of Carlisle. It was the third Earl of Carlisle who built the castle, which appears in the background of his painting. The last Earl of Carlisle to live in the home was the ninth. He died in the 20th century, and through complicated family bequests, the home ended up with the Howard family.


The first actual room one enters is the bedroom of Lady Georgiana, Countess of Carlisle, who was pregnant every 18 months from 1802 to 1825. The room adjacent to the Georgiana bedroom was originally the dressing room. Now it is a bedroom in the style of 1884, when it was redecorated by the ninth Countess of Carlisle. The furnishings look to be original, and a painting by Gainsborough hangs on the wall.


The artist with the most works of art in the home is Mario Ricci, a Venetian landscape artist who was commissioned to do work at Castle Howard during the years 1709-1710. Probably the second most exhibited painter is George James Howard, who was also the ninth Earl of Carlisle and resident of the house.


Many of the paintings at Castle Howard were acquired by Frederick, the fifth Earl of Carlisle. In 1798, he and two other patrons acquired the Italian paintings from the Orleans collection; among the pictures exhibited were Titians, Raphaels and Leonardos. A number of these paintings have since been donated to the nation.


The Castle Howard collection is still first-rate. As I wandered through the rooms, I saw paintings by some of Englands greatest artists, including Gainsborough and Constable, as well as works by Hans Holbein, Joshua Reynolds, Rubens and Canaletto.


The artwork is just a part of the homes attractions. Antiquities, Roman sculpture and period furniture are also on exhibit. I had to keep reminding myself that people actually live in this house.


A key plot point for Waughs hero apart from his affairs with the siblings was his deep regard for the house itself. After being turned away from the property by the stern Flyte matriarch, Ryder doesnt return again until the war, when the home is being used by the British army and he finds himself stationed there.


Ryders love for Julia is resurrected after the war. In real life, the house and grounds, too, were resurrected post-war, a happy ending for the fictional Brideshead and the non-fictional Castle Howard.



IF YOU GO


Unless youre a guest of the Howards, the best option is to stay at a nearby bed and breakfast. I chose the No9 Luxury Bed & Breakfast in Pickering, about 15 minutes away, where I was greeted with a tray of tea and cakes when I arrived. Its a great location because you can easily walk into the village for dinner: www.no9pickering.co.uk.





Steve Bergsman is a freelance travel writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM.




@: 2008, brideshead, films, i am not i, mini-series

URL
03:10 

Castle Howard and the Myth of "Brideshead Revisited"

Brideshead
contra mundum

By Steve Bergsman


I started reading the books of the English writer Evelyn Waugh just a few years ago when I discovered his dry British humor and sardonic observations in such books as Scoop and Vile Bodies. I never picked up his most popular novel, Brideshead Revisited, however, for two reasons: It was a more serious turn of literature for Waugh, and I had seen the popular Masterpiece Theater production starring Jeremy Irons when it appeared on U.S. television in the early 1980s as well as the more recent cinematic production starring Emma Thompson.


Both productions used the same manor house, Castle Howard outside York, England, as the location for what cinematically was called Brideshead. Although it is still in use today as the home of Simon Howard and his family, the mansion is open for visitation. The day I was there, the parking lot was full of people who had come to walk through the extensive grounds and gardens, to visit an extraordinary mansion with its great art, and to see a home so closely associated with Brideshead Revisited and its cinematic incarnations.


When I asked a tour guide whether Castle Howard was the location Waugh had in mind when he wrote or the association came later, his response was, Certain references to Brideshead in the book suggest this home was the inspiration for the fictional manse, but there is no record of Waugh ever visiting Castle Howard before writing his book.


The real Castle Howard, as opposed to the fictional Brideshead, boasts a life worthy of a good book. It was designed in 1699 by Sir John Vanbrugh, a playwright who had never designed a home, and it took more than 100 years to complete. In 1940, a fast-moving fire destroyed the manors magnificent dome, numerous rooms and artwork that was priceless nine Canalettos disappeared in the conflagration. The house was then boarded up.


George Howard returned home after service in World War II and decided to restore the family property. Much of the restoration has been accomplished, including the dome, but there are still rooms and spaces undone and that is one of the reasons Granada Television in 1981 and Hollywood in 2008 came calling. They were able to use the empty spaces to create fictional Brideshead rooms while using the remainder of the home, exterior, grounds and gardens for other shots.


My iconic memory of both cinematic versions of the story is the first time the protagonist, Charles Ryder, arrives with Sebastian Flyte, his university friend, to Flytes home and sees the grandeur of the mansion for the first time.


A two-lane road cuts through grounds of the estate for what seems like a mile or more, then passes through gates in the various walls before the building, partly obscured by trees, appears in the distance. Today visitors enter through a ticket office that was once the propertys stable and courtyard. Once through the gates, however, in the distance sits Castle Howard in all its glory. Its a five- to 10-minute walk to the home, depending on how fast one walks and whether one is diverted by the walled gardens. In the center of the formal gardens sits the Atlas Fountain, an important venue in both film versions of the Brideshead story.


The entryway to the home is at the head of the wing to the right of real main entrance.


<sript language=javasript src=adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5235/1290674/0/... onClick=return adgo(5512,7495,this.href); href=adserver.adtechus.com/adlink/3.0/5235/1290674/0... target=_blank;key=key1+key2+key3+key4;grp=52810><img src=adserver.adtechus.com/adserv/3.0/5235/1290674/0... border=0 width=300 height=250></a></noscript>

This is a good place to start because the stairwell leading up to the second floor is lined with the grand portraits of the first six Earls of Carlisle. It was the third Earl of Carlisle who built the castle, which appears in the background of his painting. The last Earl of Carlisle to live in the home was the ninth. He died in the 20th century, and through complicated family bequests, the home ended up with the Howard family.


The first actual room one enters is the bedroom of Lady Georgiana, Countess of Carlisle, who was pregnant every 18 months from 1802 to 1825. The room adjacent to the Georgiana bedroom was originally the dressing room. Now it is a bedroom in the style of 1884, when it was redecorated by the ninth Countess of Carlisle. The furnishings look to be original, and a painting by Gainsborough hangs on the wall.


The artist with the most works of art in the home is Mario Ricci, a Venetian landscape artist who was commissioned to do work at Castle Howard during the years 1709-1710. Probably the second most exhibited painter is George James Howard, who was also the ninth Earl of Carlisle and resident of the house.


Many of the paintings at Castle Howard were acquired by Frederick, the fifth Earl of Carlisle. In 1798, he and two other patrons acquired the Italian paintings from the Orleans collection; among the pictures exhibited were Titians, Raphaels and Leonardos. A number of these paintings have since been donated to the nation.


The Castle Howard collection is still first-rate. As I wandered through the rooms, I saw paintings by some of Englands greatest artists, including Gainsborough and Constable, as well as works by Hans Holbein, Joshua Reynolds, Rubens and Canaletto.


The artwork is just a part of the homes attractions. Antiquities, Roman sculpture and period furniture are also on exhibit. I had to keep reminding myself that people actually live in this house.


A key plot point for Waughs hero apart from his affairs with the siblings was his deep regard for the house itself. After being turned away from the property by the stern Flyte matriarch, Ryder doesnt return again until the war, when the home is being used by the British army and he finds himself stationed there.


Ryders love for Julia is resurrected after the war. In real life, the house and grounds, too, were resurrected post-war, a happy ending for the fictional Brideshead and the non-fictional Castle Howard.



IF YOU GO


Unless youre a guest of the Howards, the best option is to stay at a nearby bed and breakfast. I chose the No9 Luxury Bed & Breakfast in Pickering, about 15 minutes away, where I was greeted with a tray of tea and cakes when I arrived. Its a great location because you can easily walk into the village for dinner: www.no9pickering.co.uk.





Steve Bergsman is a freelance travel writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM.




@: 2008, brideshead, films, i am not i, mini-series

URL
02:24 

Castle Howard On Film

Brideshead
contra mundum

Since the 1960s, Castle Howard has been used as a location for many film and television productions. The house, the beautiful grounds and wider estate are all ideal settings for costume dramas, feature films and documentaries. These pages have information on Castle Howards starring role on the big screen.

If you are interested in using Castle Howard as a location please visit our Location Filming & Photography pages.


Brideshead Revisited (2008)
Ecosse Films production of Evelyn Waughs novel, directed by Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane) and produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae together with Kevin Loader. The film has been adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones Diary, Bleak House) and Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland). With Ben Whishaw as Sebastian Flyte, Matthew Goode as Charles Ryder, Hayley Atwell as Julia Flyte, with Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson as Lord and Lady Marchmain.

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (2006)
Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer) travels to the United Kingdom, and he brings his cat, Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray), along for the trip. A case of mistaken cat identity finds Garfield ruling over a castle (Castle Howard), but his reign is soon jeopardized by the nefarious Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly), who has designs on the estate.

Great Estates (2000, 2001)
A series of hugely popular documentaries about Castle Howard and other estates in England, that provided a fascinating glimpse into all aspects of life at Castle Howard indoors, outdoors and behind the scenes.

A Year in the Life of Castle Howard (1996)
A six-part documentary on the Castle Howard.

The Buccaneers (1994)
A BBC production of Edith Whartons novel of the 19th century encounter between English aristocracy and wealthy American heiresses. Because of their new money background, four American girls have difficulty breaking into the upper-crust society of New York. Laura Testvalley, the governess of one of the girls, suggests a London season and thus the young women set sail for England and the unsuspecting English aristocracy.

Twelfth Night (1978)
A BBC production of one of Shakespeares most popular comedies, and surprisingly the only time Castle Howard has been used for a Shakespeare play.

Brideshead Revisited (1981)
Granada TVs production of Evelyn Waughs novel, starring Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick, has achieved mythic status as one of the great costume dramas of all time. Although it is not certain that Waugh identified his Brideshead with Castle Howard, for many people the two buildings have come to epitomise a nostalgia for England before the Second World War.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by William Thackeray. Redmond Barry is a young, roguish Irishman whos determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army, fighting in the Seven Years War in Europe, Barry deserts from the British army, joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the rank of a spy, then becomes pupil to a Chevalier and con artist.

The Spy With a Cold Nose (1966)
A spoof cold war spy thriller starring Lawrence Harvey with Castle Howard masquerading as the Kremilin in Moscow. The Russian Premier is presented with a British bulldog that has been fitted with a transmitter by Dr. Francis Trevelyan (Laurence Harvey).

Lady L (1965)

Directed by Peter Ustinov, and starring David Niven, Sophia Loren and Paul Newman in a tale of European anarchists and aristocrats. Lady Louise Lendale (Sophia Loren) is 80 years old and tells her long time admirer, British poet Sir Percy (Cecil Parker), all about her eventful life.




@: 2008, brideshead, films, i am not i, mini-series

URL
02:24 

Castle Howard On Film

Brideshead
contra mundum

Since the 1960s, Castle Howard has been used as a location for many film and television productions. The house, the beautiful grounds and wider estate are all ideal settings for costume dramas, feature films and documentaries. These pages have information on Castle Howards starring role on the big screen.

If you are interested in using Castle Howard as a location please visit our Location Filming & Photography pages.


Brideshead Revisited (2008)
Ecosse Films production of Evelyn Waughs novel, directed by Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane) and produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae together with Kevin Loader. The film has been adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones Diary, Bleak House) and Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland). With Ben Whishaw as Sebastian Flyte, Matthew Goode as Charles Ryder, Hayley Atwell as Julia Flyte, with Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson as Lord and Lady Marchmain.

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (2006)
Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer) travels to the United Kingdom, and he brings his cat, Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray), along for the trip. A case of mistaken cat identity finds Garfield ruling over a castle (Castle Howard), but his reign is soon jeopardized by the nefarious Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly), who has designs on the estate.

Great Estates (2000, 2001)
A series of hugely popular documentaries about Castle Howard and other estates in England, that provided a fascinating glimpse into all aspects of life at Castle Howard indoors, outdoors and behind the scenes.

A Year in the Life of Castle Howard (1996)
A six-part documentary on the Castle Howard.

The Buccaneers (1994)
A BBC production of Edith Whartons novel of the 19th century encounter between English aristocracy and wealthy American heiresses. Because of their new money background, four American girls have difficulty breaking into the upper-crust society of New York. Laura Testvalley, the governess of one of the girls, suggests a London season and thus the young women set sail for England and the unsuspecting English aristocracy.

Twelfth Night (1978)
A BBC production of one of Shakespeares most popular comedies, and surprisingly the only time Castle Howard has been used for a Shakespeare play.

Brideshead Revisited (1981)
Granada TVs production of Evelyn Waughs novel, starring Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick, has achieved mythic status as one of the great costume dramas of all time. Although it is not certain that Waugh identified his Brideshead with Castle Howard, for many people the two buildings have come to epitomise a nostalgia for England before the Second World War.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by William Thackeray. Redmond Barry is a young, roguish Irishman whos determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army, fighting in the Seven Years War in Europe, Barry deserts from the British army, joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the rank of a spy, then becomes pupil to a Chevalier and con artist.

The Spy With a Cold Nose (1966)
A spoof cold war spy thriller starring Lawrence Harvey with Castle Howard masquerading as the Kremilin in Moscow. The Russian Premier is presented with a British bulldog that has been fitted with a transmitter by Dr. Francis Trevelyan (Laurence Harvey).

Lady L (1965)

Directed by Peter Ustinov, and starring David Niven, Sophia Loren and Paul Newman in a tale of European anarchists and aristocrats. Lady Louise Lendale (Sophia Loren) is 80 years old and tells her long time admirer, British poet Sir Percy (Cecil Parker), all about her eventful life.




@: 2008, brideshead, films, i am not i, mini-series

URL
01:38 

Castle Howard homepage

Brideshead
contra mundum
URL
01:38 

Castle Howard homepage

Brideshead
contra mundum
URL
02:24 

Peter Phillips: Set designer celebrated for his work on Granada TV's classic drama 'Brideshead Revisited'

Brideshead
contra mundum

By Derek Granger


April 12, 2011


In a distinguished 25-year career as a leading designer for Granada Television, Peter Phillips added greatly to the lustre of Granadas drama output.


But undoubtedly his crowning achievement was his design concept for Brideshead Revisited, transmitted in 1981, for which he won a Bafta and which did much, along with Jane Robinsons costume designs, to create what became known as the Brideshead look.


Featured in such fashionable places as the windows of Bloomingdales in New York, that look was one of opulence and luxury, but always, in Phillipss hands, calculated to enhance rather than overpower the nostalgic mood of Evelyn Waughs elegiac novel. Phillips was initially reluctant to work on film design, believing that creating sets for the studio gave him greater artistic opportunity. But after overseeing the designs for Craven Arms by AE Coppard in Granadas Country Matters series of 1972 he became an enthusiastic convert and undertook his Brideshead assignment as an exciting if testing challenge. Brideshead, which was to be shot on film and on location, was eventually to take almost two and a half sometimes turbulent years in the making. For Phillips, as for all the crew, it became a pioneering adventure unlike anything previously attempted in British television.


In 1978 Phillips and I began the search for the many required locations. In Venice we selected the Palazzo Barbaro for Lord Marchmains Italian hideaway. In Malta and Gozo, chosen to represent Morocco, Phillips made plans to simulate the look of North Africa by inserting within the walls of local alleyways indigenous Arabic archways. His passion for detail and keen aesthetic eye were invaluable in effecting these many transformations. In Charles Ryders rooms at Hertford College (the same which Waugh himself had occupied) each one of the pictures and objects described in the novel was in its rightful place. A classroom in a Manchester language school was converted, with the addition of wood panelling and an array of exotic bric-a-brac, into Sebastians rooms at Christ Church and included a specially constructed platform outside the window from which Anthony Blanche could declaim TS Eliots The Waste Land.


To recreate the foyer of a smart Manhattan hotel he transformed the lobby of a disused Trafford Park asbestos factory; for the Atlantic liner sequence for which the deck scenes were shot on the QE2, he found eight different locations, including the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, which provided the ships dining room; the show room of a Kensington fashion store, which supplied the ships main lounge; the foyer of a Mayfair hotel, which stood in as the ships cocktail bar; and two specially constructed state rooms, built on rockers, designed in the art deco style that exemplified the streamlined marine architecture of the 1930s.


The crucial choice of Castle Howard for the baroque country seat of the Flyte family, a choice endorsed by the architectural historian James Lees-Milne, was taken after much deliberation. Because the grand state dining room had been destroyed by fire, Phillips set about creating a substitute in a disused basement. But perhaps his most important contribution was in persuading the enthusiastic owner, George Howard, to rebuild (with a little help from Granadas budget) the burnt-out shell of the garden room. This ensured that the magnificent vista across the Great Hall through to the south front and to the Atlas Fountain and parkland beyond could once more be revealed not merely for the TV audience, but as a gloriously restored feature of the house itself.


Tenacious as his artistic supervision of Brideshead proved, it should not overshadow the notable contribution he made to Granadas drama during its great heyday between the 1960s and 1980s. His work included an eight-part adaptation of Kipps, HG Wellss study of an aspiring drapers assistant, dramatisations of the satirical tales of Saki and a group of Edwardian domestic dramas including The Walls of Jericho and Olive Latimers Husband. He also worked on Galsworthys Strife, Paris 1900 (based on a series of French farces by Georges Feydeau) and a quartet of No


@: mini-series

URL
03:10 

[Documentary, 2005] Documentary on the legendary TV adaptation...

Brideshead
contra mundum



[Documentary, 2005] Documentary on the legendary TV adaptation of Evelyn Waughs famous novel Brideshead Revisited. Appearances and interviews to the cast and crew of this unforgettable series.





@: mini-series

URL
01:37 

'It's all on account of the war'

Brideshead
contra mundum

Why does Brideshead Revisited have such a strong hold on our imagination? Evelyn Waughs beautiful dialogue plays its part, argues Christopher Hitchens, but the chief source of the novels power is its summoning of innocence lost on the fields of Flanders. Never mind that the new film version is a travesty: go back to the book


As I drove away from a California screening of the new film version of Brideshead Revisited, I was amused to overhear the comments of my companions from the back seat. I thought the one who played Jeremy Irons was a bit thin I liked the Anthony Andrews character better It is more than a quarter of a century since the late William F Buckley introduced the Granada TV series to the American viewers of the Public Broadcasting System, and the residual effect is one of what Harold Isaacs once called scratches on the mind: a very durable if sometimes vague cultural impression. (My son was born in 1984 and as I was carrying a teddy bear home, and happening that day to be wearing a white linen suit, I was astonished by the number of passers-by in Washington DC who shouted Hi Sebastian! at me as I tooled along.)


The directors Charles Sturridge and Michael Lindsay-Hogg achieved their 1981 success by gorgeous photography, of course, and also by generally inspired casting. The locations, plainly, required little or no embellishment. And the music was suitably well, evocative. But most of all, they were faithful to Evelyn Waughs beautiful dialogue and cadence, both in set-piece scenes and in sequences of languorous voice-over in Oxford and Venice and - perhaps decisively - in the opening passage, where the melancholic Captain Charles Ryder hears the almost healing word Brideshead spoken again: a name that was so familiar to me, a conjurors name of such magic power, that, at its ancient sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight.


Graham Greene once wrote that, in his own memory, that same inaugural passage had seemed very long and elaborate, and that he was surprised on rereading it to find how brief it was. He intended this as a compliment. I, too, find that Brideshead is oddly capacious and elastic, disclosing new depths and perspectives with each reading. Why does this novel have such a tenacious hold on the imagination, even of people who have never been to England or never visited a country house?


Well, to answer that first and easiest question, it is entirely possible to feel nostalgia for homelands, and for periods, which one has never experienced oneself. This applies to imagined times and places as well as to real ones: Waugh uses the phrase secret garden and also - alluding to the Oxford of Lewis Carroll - to an enclosed and enchanted garden reachable by a low door in the wall. The yearning for a lost or different upbringing is fairly universal, and one of Bridesheads keys is precisely the one that unlocks the gate to it:


Now, that summer term with Sebastian, it seemed as though I was being given a brief spell of what I had never known, a happy childhood, and though its toys were silk shirts and liqueurs and cigars and its naughtiness high in the catalogue of grave sins, there was something of nursery freshness about us that fell little short of the joy of innocence.


This sentence, incidentally, puts the quietus on the ridiculous word platonic that for some peculiar reason still crops up in discussion of the story. Waughs unambiguous mention of the catalogue of grave sins also reminds us of his stated purpose in writing the book, which was nothing less than an attempt to trace the workings of the divine purpose in a pagan world. And this is the storys second source of fascination: the struggle between the sacred and the profane. Critics have differed sharply here. Monsignor Ronald Knox was so much affected by Julias monologue on sin that he proposed to quote it to the clergy of Westminster Cathedral on their Day of Recollection, while George Orwell, who was reviewing Brideshead on his own deathbed, thought that the passing of Lord Marchmain and other kitschy scenes demonstrated the impossibility of being simultaneously grown-up and a Roman Catholic. It cant be said that Waugh is merely propagandistically or proselytisingly Catholic in the novel: Sebastian is a doomed and sometimes vicious alcoholic, his elder brother, the devout Bridey, is an honest but ineffectual crank, his little sister Cordelia a sweet little frump who goes off to work for General Franco, and their mother a sort of ultra-glamorous witch, while all the priests are represented as either silly or simple. And as for Julia: the whore/Madonna complex might have been invented for her. Nonetheless, it cant be doubted that Waugh was trying to do honour to English Catholicism and, as he later came to realise, was inadvertently engaged in commemorating the passing of its traditionalist wing. (He died as the full horror of the Second Vatican Council, with its abolition of the Latin or Tridentine mass, was becoming fully apparent to him. The recent rise of Josef Ratzinger might have struck him as another of the operations of divine grace.)


Fatally perhaps for his own cause, he thus identified the esoteric elitism of his religion with the snobbery that attached to the Marchmain lineage and its lovely country home. (Sebastian Flyte describes the English Catholics as a series of cliques, while Lord Marchmain freely allows that he himself is a caricature of all that the socialists would have me be.) At least Waugh was unapologetic about this, saying that the novelist deals with the experiences which excite his imagination, and adding that class consciousness, particularly in England, has been so much inflamed nowadays that to mention a nobleman is like mentioning a prostitute 60 years ago. The new prudes say: No doubt such people do exist but we would rather not hear about them. I reserve the right to deal with the kind of people I know best. This to me appears more than reasonable: it would be absurd and vulgar to indict Marcel Proust or Anthony Powell or PG Wodehouse for their emphasis on the upper crust. The test is not characters so much as characterisation. One of Waughs best minor figures is anything but aristocratic: the hapless clerk Hooper could have been invented by Charles Dickens or Arnold Bennett in a spare moment. Ryder plays a word-game with his name, changing the fashionable word Youth in modern discourse to the word Hooper and thus coming up with Hooper Rallies, Hooper Hostels and suchlike. Fair enough. But then try this, from Charless first lunch with Sebastian:


He was magically beautiful, with that epicene quality which in extreme youth sings aloud for love and withers at the first cold wind.


Or this, during the stolen summer holiday that leaves the naughty boys with Brideshead Castle all to themselves:


The languor of Youth - how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! The zest, the generous affections, the illusions, the despair, all the traditional attributes of Youth - all save this - come and go with us through life


In this rather sickly passage the word is even capitalised, but I doubt that Waugh wanted us, while the golden lads were splashing and romping, to substitute the word Hooper for it. So, if you must seek a conviction for elitism, look to the language and not to the sociology.


Look to the language, also, if you want to guess at meanings that may be only semi-conscious in the writers own mind: when Waugh tells us that the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us and the fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a fingers breadth above the turf, does he intend the slightly saccharine repetition or is he unaware that he is being a little too rich?


It comes as a shock to discover that Waugh nearly called Charles Ryder by the surname of Fenwick, and almost gave Cordelia the first name Bridget. (Such is the power of a great novel to make us feel that we own it almost as private property, as it were, and must resent any intrusion on our intimacy with it.) But evidently he gave some care and reflection to nomenclature. In one of his literary essays on sacred subjects, Father Robert Barron proposes that because St Paul told the Corinthians that Christ is the Head of His Body the Church and, shifting the metaphor, that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride, it follows that Waugh fuses these two Pauline images of Head and Bride to create the gracious mansion that lies at the core of the story. This may be plausible (the two images are widely separated in the Bible) but I feel on surer ground in proposing my profane counterpart to Barrons sacred one. In the very name of Sebastian Flyte there is either a very great ingenuity or a very strong subliminal element. Recall the way in which Anthony Blanche says to him, with obvious flirtatiousness: My dear, I should like to stick you full of barbed arrows like a p-p-pin-cushion. Here the reference to the martyrdom of St Sebastian is obvious enough, and then it might occur to you - as it only did to me after several rereadings - that the word flight also happens to be the collective noun for a shower of arrows.


Pressing home with this analogy, one hits upon what may be the chief source of Bridesheads potency. Even if only in distant and muffled tones, with the actual tragic action taking place off-stage


@: 2008, book, films, mini-series, press, waugh

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Take a tour of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire England

Brideshead
contra mundum



Take a tour of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire England





@: mini-series, i am not i, films, 2008, brideshead

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00:51 

TV: Brideshead Regurgitated

Brideshead
contra mundum

Is the cult of Brideshead among Cantabridgians harmless fun, or does it conceal a regressive social agenda? Daniel Janes investigates


Its cold, somewhat clinical and nowhere near as compelling as other eighties serials such as Jewel in the Crown and Edge of Darkness. However, it is the 1981 Granada adaptation of Evelyn Waughs Brideshead Revisited that has most embedded itself into the public mind. Nowhere is this more evident than at Cambridge. Though set in the City of Dreaming Spires rather than the City of Perspiring Dreams, Bridesheads serene lawns and stately courts have come to represent Oxbridge as a whole, or at least a quaint, elitist image of it.


This identification is so strong that the show is considered mandatory viewing for Oxbridge students. Brideshead DVD sessions - accompanied by liberal amounts of port, to turn the affectation of social exclusiveness up to eleven - are a fixture of JCRs. This mania is particularly common among wide-eyed first-years, still riveted by the novelty value of Oxbridge traditions, before Captain Tripos flogs them into anxious submission.


The cult of Brideshead is so ridiculously deeply inculcated that even people who havent seen or read it can see themselves living it, said third-year historian James Frecknall. Myself, for instance.


Despite the pervasiveness of the trend, an appraisal of student opinion suggests that, for many Cantabridgians, the TV serial can be something of an endurance test due to its excessively languid pacing.


Third-year historian Doug Johnson confesses that he has never managed to make it even through the first episode without falling asleep. To second-year lawyer Emma Brookes, the show is paint-dryingly tedious at times.


The pacing is incredibly slow, commented third-year, Engling Angus Ledingham. I cant imagine it being terribly successful if it was made now. In terms of period dramas and classic novel adaptations, Andrew Davies beat it hands down with both Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House. I sometimes wonder if the nostalgia is as much for that style of television as for the period it represents.


Certainly, few would fault certain technical aspects of the serial. Among female students, Jeremy Irons droning narration is a particular draw, though to others it is agonising or unintentionally funny. Praise abounded for Geoffrey Burgons elegiac theme tune, Peter Phillips meticulous art direction and several of the performances, chiefly Nickolas Graces viciously camp Anthony Blanche and John Gielguds scene-stealing turn as Charles Ryders father, Edward.


For most, the cult of Brideshead is simply an innocuous way of recreating the fustier, amusingly outmoded aspects of the Oxbridge experience. However, for a section of conservatively-minded students, Brideshead Revisited is not just an escapist fantasy; it is an endorsement of the values of the Carlton Club. The Oxford of Brideshead is a socially exclusive world, untouched by the unwashed masses, access schemes and mixed-sex colleges. It is a world where tradition reigns supreme, where Stanley Baldwin is Prime Minister in perpetuity, where social problems evaporate amid pedantic discussions of the odes of Pindar. A world which, to many rightists, is sadly lost (though it is never as lost as they seem to think).


This conservative fetishisation of Brideshead was highlighted by Christopher Hitchens in his book Blood, Class and Empire. When the show first premiered on PBS, it was introduced by William F. Buckley, a giant of the modern conservative movement. Benjamin Hart, former director of the Heritage Foundation, even pilfered whole sections of the book for speeches endorsing traditional educational values. Reaganites admitted that it was primarily the TV show, not the book that had engaged them. The conservatives thraldom to the series reflects what Hitchens described as a revival of a right-wing politics based on the defensive class-consciousness of the well-off, reflected in the writings of Tom Wolfe. What is striking is about the popular image of Brideshead is that it is as if only the first four episodes of the TV series exist. Sebastian is celebrated as carefree and vital, ignoring the inconvenient fact that he becomes a depressed alcoholic hanger-on in a Moroccan monastery. The huge role played in the plot by Catholicism is also overlooked. As third-year historian Laura Marshall points out, it is all about Catholic guilt, and Evelyn Waugh just cant do Catholic guilt as well as Graham Greene.


True, some of the storys themes may have wider resonance. For Emma Brookes, Brideshead is in part a story about loneliness and just wanting to belong, a second stab at childhood, themes that young people at a volatile time in their lives might relate to. However, as Angus Ledingham suggests, there may be a more straightforward explanation for the series popularity: Or maybe its just the unbearable toffs making prats of themselves.


Daniel Janes




@: mini-series, bubbles

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17:00 

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Brideshead
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Brideashead revisited