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Brideshead Revisited to Push Gay Intrigue


A new theatrical version of Brideshead Revisited set to open in limited release this week will take the gay ambiguity in the Evelyn Waugh novel to a more definitive place.

BridesheadAccording to The Telegraph, "a new film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited will out Sebastian Flyte as a homosexual and even feature a gay kiss between him and Charles. In one controversial scene in the new £10 million film, which has its world premiere in New York on Tuesday, a love struck Sebastian attempts to kiss Charles on the mouth before his amorous advances are resisted. The scene has been welcomed by some gay rights campaigners who have already dubbed the film 'the most overtly' gay Brideshead ever. But it is set to infuriate purists who insist that the relationship between the two friends has been distorted. Brideshead Revisited tells the story of Charles Ryder and his infatuation with Lord Sebastian Flyte, his aristocratic family and their ancestral home, Brideshead. The two men meet while students at Oxford and Ryder finds Flyte’s decadence and loucheness irresistible. Although fans of the novel and the 1981 Granada television adaptation which starred Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews have debated the nature of the relationship between the two friends neither the book, which appeared in 1945, or the TV adaptation carry any overt references to homosexual feelings."

Said screenwriter Andrew Davies: "I think it will probably upset the purists. But one thing we wanted to make clear was that Sebastian was gay and that Charles although terribly fond of him is heading in another direction sexually. Waugh had a very skilful way of skating over the sordid details so we can imagine what we like about them. This ambivalence was probably the result of his own sexual ambivalence."

Sebastian is played by Ben Whishaw, and Charles by Matthew Goode. Below, Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews in the PBS series which transfixed viewers in 1981.

The theatrical trailer for the new Brideshead, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. I loved the original so I will probably love this one. Anthony Andrews was so cute in it, well until the drugs kicked in.

    Posted by: davefromtampa | Jul 21, 2008 10:30:15 AM

  2. WHYYYYY do these studios insist on showing you the whole plot of the movie in their trailers? They assume the audience is stupid and so train the audience to BECOME stupid!!!

    Posted by: lwoolf | Jul 21, 2008 11:23:19 AM

  3. How interesting that they decided to retain Castle Howard from the original 1980s miniseries as the stand-in for Brideshead. It was such a powerful presence in the original film, it's almost as though they had decided to cast Claire Bloom as Lady Marchmain (though I cannot wait to see the brilliant Emma Thompson's version of the matriarch.) It just seems that they have chosen such a different tone for this new film (I see a lot of sweaty naked backs and louche intrigue) one would expect them to have chosen another grand English house, such as Blenheim, as the film's setting.

    Posted by: LD | Jul 21, 2008 12:10:03 PM

  4. I dunno... The "many sins" line from the original left little doubt about these two, even if they didn't show anything. Likewise, the whole thing is hardly gay-positive. Sebastian ends up a complete wastrel and Charles ends up very conservative.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 21, 2008 1:01:02 PM

  5. I thought it was going to go the other way, given what the writer said in the NYTimes:

    “This puts Julia center stage,” Mr. Brock said of the Venice scenes. “When you read the novel, there is a sense that she is slightly the one who comes after Sebastian, that she is No. 2, and I think it’s not quite fair. The true love story for Charles is the one with Julia.”

    Why wouldn't it be fair to focus on Charles/Sebastian?

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Jul 21, 2008 1:09:42 PM

  6. I saw this movie at a screening recently, and I hate to report that the TV miniseries was infinitely better. The guy who plays the new Sebastian is NO Anthony Andrews--he plays him like an annoying flighty airhead. They've added scenes where Julia and Charles are kissing in front of Sebastian! NOT in the book. Overall, the tone of the movie is over-the-top and melodramatic while the TV series was beautiful, understated and simply perfect. Why they insisted on ruining a perfect adaptation is beyond me. And yes, the portrait of Sebastian is FAR, FAR from gay-positive. The movie made me want to get my hands on the Granada production DVD just to rinse out the awful aftertaste of the movie.

    Posted by: Joey Mastroianni | Jul 21, 2008 1:34:06 PM

  7. I watched the miniseries as a 16 year old and I certainly understood the gay theme. Funny how my father recommended the show to me and never picked that up. At least he never said anything to me!

    I think I'll skip the new version and keep my happy memories.

    PS had to look up the work "louche". I learn something new on this site every day!

    Posted by: Ted | Jul 21, 2008 5:13:35 PM

  8. Hmm.... I do like Matthew Goode. I mostly remember him from My Family and Other Animals... absolutely fantastic. He was also in that Scarlet Johanson, Rhys-Myers movie... Matchpoint or something like that (can't remember off the top of my head). It was *okay*, but Goode's role in it was solid, if not very deep.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jul 21, 2008 6:24:03 PM

  9. The book referred to the romance between
    the World War One poet Siegfried Sassoon, who went on to marry and father a child, and Stephen Tennant, [During the twenties and thirties, Tennant was an important member of the "Bright Young Things."]. Neither were favorites of the author Evelyn Waugh.

    Posted by: paul | Jul 21, 2008 9:47:32 PM

  10. I remember seeing the mini-series as a kid & being turned on by Anthony Andrews. Can't wait to see it in the big screen, especially cuz I love Matthew Goode.

    Posted by: scar2 | Jul 22, 2008 12:16:02 AM

  11. As excited as I was over The Dark Knight (and it delivered, IMHO), the literature major in me has a major hankering for BR. When I was in college a hundred years ago, having it forced upon me didn't sit too well, but I've mellowed with age and would love to see the gay overtones are handled in the new adaptation. Should be interesting.

    Posted by: Derrick | Jul 26, 2008 1:13:16 PM

  12. Oh dear. Judging by the trailer this is yet another case of a revisionist's sexed-up version of a classic novel.. Ben Wishaw is not right for the role of Sebastian at all; pretty he may be but he is far too bland and lacklustre. Andrews' portrayal was spiky and brilliant. And they seem to have played it decidedly safe in casting the Jeremy Irons act-alike and look-alike Matthew Goode. Why they bother remaking these classics is beyond me; the original series is an utterly flawless classic.

    Posted by: atheist | Jul 26, 2008 7:22:24 PM

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