By Australian Council on Children and the Media
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Brideshead Revisited
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Rating
  • Parental guidance recommended
Recommendations
  • Not recommended for children under 13
  • Suitable for children over 15
Warnings
  • Contains high [low] level of nudity
  • Contains sexual references or sexual scenes
Genre Drama
Length 133 minutes
Release Date 23/10/2008

Story

Based on Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel, Brideshead Revisited follows the story of Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) an aspiring artist who leaves his modest home and indifferent father to study history at Oxford. There he is befriended by Sebastian Flyte (Ben Wishaw) a wealthy homosexual who uses alcohol to ease his conscience. Sebastian invites Charles to spend the summer with him at Brideshead, the lavish estate where he lives with his mother the pious Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), his sister Julia (Hayley Atwell) and brother Bridley (Ed Stoppard) all of whom are deeply religious Roman Catholics. Despite the fact that Charles is a self proclaimed atheist, they are charmed by him and encourage him to “look after” Sebastian.

Charles is dazzled by the beauty of Brideshead and also by Julia whom he adores. Although Julia is captivated by Charles she refuses to go against her mother’s wishes and instead marries a Catholic man whom she does not love. Charles leaves broken-hearted. Sebastian too is broken-hearted as he realizes that Charles cannot love him the way that he desires and he begins to drink more heavily.

Charles goes on with his painting and enters a loveless marriage. It is four years before he associates with the family again. Eventually Lady Marchmain approaches him and begs him to help her find Sebastian who has disappeared in Morocco. Charles discovers Sebastian convalescing in a hospital, where the ravages of alcoholism have taken their toll. Sebastian remains in Morocco and his mother dies without seeing him again.

Charles spends two years painting in the jungles of South America and returns to England as a celebrated artist. On a ship he encounters Julia and after a whirlwind affair they decide to run way together. Charles promises to settle things with her husband and they return to Brideshead where the religious atmosphere casts a shadow over their love and slowly destroys it.

Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.

Homosexuality; alcoholism; adultery; religion

Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.

There is some violence in this movie including a scuffle in the streets of Morocco.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five.

For example, at a masked party Julia is whisked away by people wearing creepy masks. She tries to get free from them but can’t and Charles chases her through the shadowy tunnels. He finds her and she is fine, but the masked people may be disturbing to younger viewers

From 5-8

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including a scene in which Julia is at her father’s bedside with a priest offering the last rites when the father dies.

From 8-13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie. For example:

  • A friend of Sebastian speaks to a crowd of people about rape and sodomising.
  • Charles suggests that Julia’s husband has not been faithful.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie. For example:

  • There is extremely frequent use of wine, champagne and all manner of alcoholic beverages. The alcohol is served at home, in pubs, at parties, on boats, at picnics, at meals, from hip flasks and so on.
  • Towards the middle of the film, Sebastian appears to be perpetually drunk.
  • There is frequent smoking.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:

  • Sebastian and Charles kiss each other.
  • Sebastian kisses other men.
  • Sebastian and Charles go swimming together naked – back view only.
  • Julia finds them standing naked beside some bushes – back view only.
  • Sebastian rises out of his bath naked.
  • Charles paints a nude woman.
  • There is a sex scene between Charles and Julia that includes them both kissing and getting undressed. Julia’s breasts are almost fully exposed when she is on top of him. Together they move up and down, roll on the floor and kiss passionately.

Product placement

None

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Brideshead Revisited is a slow-paced, drama featuring some beautiful locations that will appeal to mature audiences and fans of the book. Children are likely to find it extremely dull.

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself, to beware of greed and that love, while precious, is also painful. You might wish to discuss the following values with your children: faithfulness, friendship, helpfulness and honesty.

This movie could also give you the opportunity to discuss with your children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as the effects of alcoholism, not only on an individual but on an entire family, and what happens when you force your beliefs, religious or otherwise, on other people.

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  • Last Reviewed 2008-11-03