Monday, August 18, 2008

Revisiting Brideshead & photos pt 1

Woe, Elizabeth, for the dying of your bees! I was just praising your attempt to do your part in encouraging pollination across Shelby County to the Cooks this evening. I guess I spoke too soon. Is there anywhere you can order a queen? Maybe online? Don't toss in the towel on your agrarian aspirations yet.

Well, as promised, I am here to review the film version of Brideshead Revisited. My neighbor and I left Dan with the 8 kids (his comment when I asked him how things went: "I don't want to talk about it.") to run over to the Naro for the show last Thursday. I was prepared for the homosexual tendencies of Sebastian to be emphasized, but they were overblown. Not that I let this undermine my enjoyment of a night out w/o kids. The movie was beautifully filmed, although it tended to overplay the melodramatic facial close-ups so popular in cinematography today. Unfortunately, many of these facial focuses are not nearly as readable as a good Evelyn Waugh sentence. The actor who played Charles Ryder was hard to accept as an artist. He had little to say, but lots of unmeaningful looks. Movie Julia was pretty, but not nearly as witty or intellectual as the book Julia. She came across as morose, cynical, and almost adolescent. Meanwhile, Cordelia's role was radically diminished - in the book she's much more present, and seems to tie together the themes in her last few speeches (I pulled the book off the shelf on Friday and ignored the kids and husband and Olympics for a few hours to review some of the scenes. I thought maybe I missed some innuendo in the book that the screenwriter picked up on. I definitely missed some, whether out of ignorance or a desire to read the book my way, but the movie takes liberties. Surprise.) The best actor was Emma Thompson who captures Lady Marchmain's imperiousness and her final vulnerability well. The worst actor was the guy who played Sebastian; he was wispy and dreary and had none of the exuberance and careless desire for fun that Sebastian seems to exude in the beginning of the novel. Charles is attracted to Sebastian's crowd because they are witty and lively and handsome, just as he's attracted to the beauty of all of the Brideshead family members and the home. Where the film plays up a tragic love triangle btwn Sebastian, Charles and Julia (and the bleakness of the rules and duties of Catholicism), the book emphasizes Charles' love of beauty without understanding truth, in contrast to Lady Marchmain's relentless attachment to truth, w/o allowing her children to enjoy the corresponding beauty, but to which they return in the end. I thought I might have misread the connection between Charles and Sebastian, but reaffirmed that Charles never really is in love with Sebastian, except in the sense of being fascinated and charmed by him. Sebastian, and everyone else, seems to understand from the beginning that Charles is in love with Julia. The filmmakers can't seem to fathom that Sebastian would be driven to drink because of his struggle with God, so they play up the love affair. The movie has none of the enduring depth of the book because it can't take seriously the struggle the Brideshead children have with their faith, nor the emptiness Charles feels for being outside, not just the idea of belonging to a family and to titles/money, both of which he lacks, but finally for being outside of belief. The book ends with Charles standing before the tabernacle in the nearly deserted Brideshead manor during WWII; the movie ends with him nearly extinguishing a candle in front of a Madonna, but then refraining.

In other news, we are pretty much unpacked and trying to get organized for the school year. The kids are all begging for playdates and staying up until 10:30 watching Olympic swimming (Go Dara Torres! My Olympic dreams don't have to die yet! And Eliz, did you see that the silver medalist in the vault is 33? Time to dust off that leotard and get back in the gym!) and beach volleyball, so we haven't accomplished much in that regard. (The bikinis for which, by the way, are not that bad. So I spent twenty minutes criticizing them to Rachel based on Mom adn Dad's testimony for no reason. We did think it funny that the Brazilian team's tops say "Bra 1" and "Bra 2." A good teaching moment: I double checked that all my kids do know what a bra is, so that I don't let them fall too far behind their public school peers.)

Here are few photos from the visit to rest your eyes on after this verbose entry. Will post to Kodak gallery eventually. I realize most of my funny pictures involve the Duffy family. Since Eliz was nice to me, I opted for the portrait of her below. I couldn't decide the best angle for a photo of Daniel, so I included two good views.


Now I have to open another post to put more photos on since these are large format.

1 comment:

Betty Duffy said...

Thanks for the review of Brideshead. It is painful to see a rich story stripped of it's deepest meaning--but I plan to see it anyway. A little Brideshead is better than none.

Good bee news. Dad and I went last night to check on a swarm that a lady at our church has. We're going to pick it up tomorrow night once the bees have come home from their days' activities. It's very late in the season for this swarm--so my hopes are not high. But we'll give it our best.

Now for something very weird: Jane woke up this morning and said, "I had a really funny dream last night, Mommy. I dreamed that you and Aunt Emily were sharing a potty." Now tell me--were there kids around when we were talking about our childhood experiments, or is my daughter a mystic?

Finally, the beach volley ball players are obnoxious. So their bikinis are not thongs, but the fact that they are on every single night, every time you turn on the TV, definitely has something to do with their swimsuits.