With the big screen adaptation of Brideshead Revisited on the horizon Eddie Harrison examines other upcoming revamps
The home of Lord and Lady Brideshead, immortalised in Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel, is revisited by director Julian Jarrold for a 2008 fall release. A more accurate description of the project might be Brideshead Rebooted, since Waugh’s study of the British aristocracy has already had a memorable screen incarnation - a 659 minute long ITV series in 1981. The new version may look magnificent, but purists may ask, is it really Waugh?
The golden-sunset sentimentality associated with the television production of Brideshead is not the only theme extracted from Waugh’s 1945 book. Jarrold’s 135 minute version, based on a script by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies, attempts a more pointed version of the novel’s original love triangle. With racy taglines like ‘Every temptation has its price’, the 2008 Brideshead is steelier than the languid television production; the squalling guitars in the trailer suggest a thriller rather than a period piece. Despite rumours of Jude Law, Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly taking the roles of Charles, Sebastian and Julia, Jarrold’s Brideshead puts Matthew Goode, Ben Wishaw and Haley Atwell centre-stage; Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson lend star-power as Lord and Lady Marchmain.
It’s not the only reboot in the works. Kevin MacDonald is currently working on State of Play, adapted from the popular BBC drama. And in Hollywood, Darren Aronofsky, creator of Pi and Requiem For a Dream, has signed up to revamp Robocop. The success of The Dark Knight is likely to inspire studios to look backwards rather than forwards for new ideas; strangely enough, it’s exactly the kind of unimaginative, grasping thinking which Waugh’s best work so cuttingly satirised.
Brideshead Revisited is released on Fri 3 Oct