What a comfort it is to learn that the makers of the new Brideshead Revisited tried to ignore the famous mini-series and "return to the book" for inspiration. This act of fidelity to what Waugh wrote would be slightly more impressive if they had actually decided to adapt what they found in its pages, rather than ... well, I'll let the filmmakers tell it:
As much as it is a story about a lost period of English history — a final shining moment before everything changed forever — “Brideshead” is a novel about the inexorable pull of Catholicism. The issues it raises are particularly relevant now, Mr. Brock said, though viewers may interpret what they see differently depending on the role of faith in their own lives ...
“In that tug between individual freedom and fundamentalist religion, there’s a story that’s apposite for our time,” Mr. Brock said. “In the modern age that’s something we’re all dealing with.”
An important divergence in tone from Waugh’s novel, Mr. Jarrold said, comes in the closing scene, when Charles — now back at Brideshead during World War II — talks to Lieutenant Hooper, a fellow soldier who has a rough accent and the forthright views of a modern man unimpressed by the aristocracy. How to portray him led to long discussions about the way that Waugh “is sometimes profoundly undemocratic” and disdainful of Hooper and what he represents, Mr. Jerrold said.
In the book Hooper is “described as a traveling salesman with a wet handshake,” he said. “But he’s the future of England, and the hope of the 1945 generation, and we’ve put a positive spin on him.”
We’ve put a positive spin on him ... I love it! And so would Waugh, I suspect, since the two men sound, frankly, less like real-life Hollywood boobs than like Wavian caricatures of the same. Catholicism is wicked and fundamentalist, Hooper is the hope of the future - but of course they're being very faithful to the book!