The 1981 film adaptation of the brilliant Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited was broadcast on American television in 1982. The miniseries won 3 British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards and 17 international awards.
For many years the videotape set has been available as well the unabridged audiobook — narrated by Jeremy Irons (cassette and CD) — and the classical film score by Geoffrey Burgon. The novel has even been adapted as a stage play.
On June 25, 2002, a digitally remastered version of the 11-hour miniseries was made available in a 3-DVD set.
“On a sheep cropped knoll, under a clump of elms, we ate the strawberries and drank the wine…. we lit fat, turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastians eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile…..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 earth and hold us suspended. “Just the place to bury a crock of gold” Sebastian said. “I should like to bury something precious in every place that I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”
The delicious film features outstanding and memorable performances by Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, Phoebe Nichols, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Diana Quick, Jane Asher, Claire Bloom, Nicholas Grace, Simon Jones.
I have loved this miniseries since the opening scenes at Castle Howard and I have even visited the film locations myself in London, Oxford and York, England. Besides the superb acting, the masterful director’s hand, eloquent musical score and sensitive art direction, another marvelous aspect of this film is that the screenplay is throughout respectfully lifted almost verbatim from the late-penned masterpiece that is Waugh’s novel and is the best film adaptation of a novel I have seen. And given the substance and sweep of the story, this is quite an achievement.
“I could tell him, too, that to know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom. But I felt no need for these sophistries as I sat before my cousin, saw him, freed from his inconclusive struggle with Pindar, in his grey dark suit, his white tie, his scholar’s gown; heard his grave tones and, all the time, savoured the gilly flowers in full bloom under my window. I had my secret and sure defence, like a talisman worn in the bosom, felt for in the moment of danger, found and firmly grasped. So I told him what was infact not the truth, that I usually had a glass of champagne about that time, and asked him to join me.”
- Scene Index
- Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
- Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
- Full-screen format
- Brideshead Revisited companion guide, director’s introduction, episode descriptions, Evelyn Waugh biography
- Location shots
- Production notes
- Photo album
- Cast and crew biographies
- Facts and photos from Castle Howard, the real Brideshead
The Rocky Road to Brideshead. By Susan King, Los Angeles Times June 25, 2002. It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Anglophiles were in the throes of “Brideshead Revisited” fever. Every Monday night, viewers were glued to PBS’ “Great Performances” to catch the latest installment in the 11-hour miniseries based on Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel about the waning days of the British aristocracy between the two world wars.
A Companion to Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. By David Cliffe. Welcome to this website dedicated to understanding the historical and cultural meaning of one of the most popular novels of the twentieth century.
Brideshead Revisited: An Overview. By David Oswell and Guy Jowett, The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Brideshead Revisited was made by Granada television, scripted by John Mortimer and originally shown on ITV in October 1981.
Put Out More Waugh. A review of “Evelyn Waugh: A Literary Life” by David Wykes. Reviewed by Richard Eder, The New York Times, October 10, 1999. A bonanza for Waugh completists and an acute, affectionate interpretive biography.
Brideshead Revisited: A Book Review. By John K. Hutchens, The New York Times, December 30, 1945. [T]he brightly devastating satirist of England’s Twenties and Thirties moves from one world to another and a larger one: from the lunacy of a burlesqued Mayfair, very glib and funny and masking the serious point in farce, to a world in which people credibly think and feel.
Brideshead Revisited: A Twitch Upon the Thread. By Paul Elmen, Christian Century May 26, 1982. The recently completed 11-and-one-half-hour Public Broadcasting System series based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited proved a smash hit. Across the country bridge parties and pancake suppers were rescheduled so as not to compete with Charles Ryder’s memories.
Brideshead Revisited. Fansite by [unknown]. A tribute to the book and television series.
Doubting Hall. Fansite by John Porter. A guided tour around the works of Evelyn Waugh.