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Revisiting Brideshead Revisited


Castle Howard was designed early in the 18th century for the 3rd Earl of Carlise by John Vanbrugh with assistance from Nicholas Hawksmoor. It was under construction for 100 years. In 1940 fire destroyed a large part of the house, including the dome, but it was rebuilt, and appeared in the 1981 television production of Evelyn Waugh's novel.

Revisiting Brideshead Revisited with another film production feels a little like substituting strangers for members of your own family. This may be an attractive idea to some, but it's discombobulating to me. I can't imagine the Brideshead family except with actress Claire Bloom playing Lady Marchmain. Anthony Andrews is Sebastian; and Jeremy Irons is Charles (and seems always to be searching in his subsequent films for the road back to enchantment).

But I like hearing good news about Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson, and it has just been announced that she will play Lady Marchmain in the 2008 production. The starring part has not changed hands. It belongs, once again, to Castle Howard in the role of Brideshead.