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Monday, 29 September 2008


Christopher Hitchens, the ostentatiously atheistic writer has a surprising assessment of Waugh's great novel, bashing the latest film treatment for its unjust and wrong-headed depiction of, of all things, Catholicism.

I do not consider myself a sympathiser with Roman Catholicism, but this film seems motivated by the cheaper sort of malice against it. Lady Marchmain is represented as a blazing-eyed fanatic, capable of compelling a male guest to attend a Catholic service (at which, laughably, she herself officiates). Julia does something that neither a true aristocrat nor a true Catholic would do, by asking whether this same guest is "one of us". Her crucial later monologue on sin is badly truncated. The rather subtle way in which Waugh makes Charles feel that perhaps there is something banal about his own "agnosticism" - miscast in the film as atheism - is at no point even acknowledged.

I have no intention of the film-makers getting my 9.50, so I shouldn't comment on a film I shall not see until it's free, but word before its release was that absurdly, it left the Catholicism out of the story; but the actual film seem to demonstrate an even less wise move on the part of the film-makers -- the Faith is, impossibly, the villain of the piece. (So what if the story doesn't make any sense then? over and over we see that movies nowadays, given enough sex and 'splosions, don't need to make sense to earn back their costs.)

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