Brideshead Revisited, Revisited

It has been 75 years since the publication of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, which continues to produce both warm and chillier reactions in its readers, it has been announced that it will once again be filmed, this time by the BBC. The new adaptation will be written and directed by Luca Guadagnino, the filmmaker behind the acclaimed Call Me by Your Name, and is (somewhat optimistically) slated to begin production in the spring of next year, presumably for broadcast in late 2021 or early 2022.

The projected cast is a star-studded one: Andrew Garfield as Charles Ryder, Rooney Mara as Julia Flyte, Cate Blanchett as Lady Marchmain and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Marchmain. The lesser-known Joe Alwyn, hitherto most famous for being Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, has reportedly been cast in the pivotal role of Sebastian.

On a basic entertainment level, this could be highly diverting Sunday night prestige television. Fiennes and Blanchett, though rather young for their roles, bring a level of sophistication and class to virtually anything that they appear in, and Guadagnino is an arrestingly offbeat choice as a filmmaker. Given his existing reputation, he will bring a visually striking and distinctive aspect to the series’ depictions of Oxford, Venice and whichever stately home stands in for Brideshead: perhaps it is time that Castle Howard was given a rest.

It is also likely that the homoerotic aspects of the relationship between Charles and Sebastian, which were hinted at in the novel without ever being made explicit, will come more fully to the fore. Given that Call Me by Your Name became briefly notorious for its use of a peach in a sex scene, one can only hope that Sebastian’s beloved teddy bear Aloysius is not pressed into similar service.

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