Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 06.18.09 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Aloysius is Missed


I knew it would be bad, because (as with the BBC Pride & Prejudice) what two-hour film could compare to a multi-hour, multi-part original. But I was shocked by how bad, how insidiously bad, last year’s remake of Brideshead Revisited was. The only good thing about it was the sumptuous architectural photography: new, often silvery views of Castle Howard, the Yorkshire estate designed by Sir Charles Vanbrugh that figures prominently in the miniseries and is practically a character in the drama; golden glimpses of Oxford; the Paddington townhouse of Ryder, Senior, that’s supposed to look shabby but, with its navy walls, is completely au courant; even a nice romantic chase down a hall of staterooms on an Art Deco ocean liner. The tailoring was perfect, the flapper dresses silken. Even the copious amounts of alcohol were filmed to maximum jewel-like effect.

But meanwhile, back in the world of women and men, the filmmakers turned a twentieth century tale of inchoate desire, class difference, Catholic guilt and the pursuit of happiness into a nineteenth century story of heterosexual romance and money. Starting with the miscasting of Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), who should be, as Anthony Andrews was in the miniseries, the most beautiful boy in the world, continuing on with the complete lack of menace in Charles Ryder (people keep accusing him of being predatory, but Matthew Goode’s beautiful, thinned-out face only reflects amity) and ending with the far greater charms of Hayley Atwell, as Julia Flyte, the whole balance of power is thrown off. All you need to know is that Ryder is played by a young, already drawn Jeremy Irons in the miniseries to summon the appropriate sense of the character as not quite knowing if he is shark or prey.

It has been years since I watched the 1981 miniseries, on VHS no less, but I remember Sebastian casting a shadow over two-thirds of the episodes. In the film, his love for Charles is more of an unrequited crush, and there’s no sense of the possibility of multiple couplings. Combine that with the relative lack of drama generated today by revelations of homosexuality and/or Catholicism, and the whole thing just falls flat. The stakes are too low, and in the second half of the movie, the dialogue diverges from Evelyn Waugh’s novel and becomes anachronistic, preposterous, and vulgar. There’s no tension, and it is a predictable film with a good-looking cipher at its center.

Aloysius, BTW, is Sebastian’s beloved bear, who makes it all the way to Morocco with his master in the miniseries, disappears after first meeting in the movie.
|
Share This Story

Comments

Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>

RELATED POSTS


Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).

The Filmic Page: Chris Marker's Commentaires
The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.

Horror Movie Posters
Accidental Mysteries for November 3, 2012 highlights vintage horror movie posters.

From the Archive: Brian Eno, Artist of Light
An early profile of ambient musician and producer Brian Eno’s parallel career as a visual artist.

An Archive of Czech Film Posters
Accidental Mysteries for June 30, 2013 showcases an archive of Czech film posters.