Adapting Arcadia



Adapting Arcadia explores the enduring appeal of Brideshead Revisited on screen. Crafted from broadcast material, music and archival recordings, it moves deftly between biographical documentary and film soundtrack to draw the listener into the evocative soundworld of Evelyn Waugh’s most celebrated work of fiction.

In 1947, Evelyn Waugh travelled to Hollywood to discuss a proposed film-adaptation of his novel Brideshead Revisited. Reluctant to see his ‘magnum opus’ given the Hollywood treatment, the author wrote a memo to MGM Studios describing in exacting detail just how Brideshead should be translated for cinema. MGM abandoned the project shortly thereafter. Brideshead Revisited would not appear on screen until 1981 in the form of Granada’s landmark television production, widely considered to be one of the greatest novel-to-film adaptations ever produced.

Using Waugh’s MGM memo as a guiding narrative thread, Adapting Arcadia contrasts Evelyn Waugh’s unrealized vision for his story on screen with critical observations on both his book and Granada’s television drama. It captures the unique character of an author who drew from personal experience to create fictional characters and events which continue to seduce, provoke and inspire. 

By reconstructing the soundscapes of the past, Adapting Arcadia brings into focus the ephemeral and intangible nature of Brideshead’s central theme: the echoes and reverberations of memory.

Adapting Arcadia was commissioned by The Brideshead Festival: 75 Years of Print and Screen.

Evelyn Waugh (above)

Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick in Brideshead Revisited (1981)

Created and Produced by Jonathan Webb

Voice of Evelyn Waugh performed by Michael Maloney
Mastered by Stephan Mathieu

Special Thanks:
Jacqueline Burgon
Arabel Charlaff
Jonathan Holmes
Tony Hymas
Adam Low
Ali Murray
Jenny Niven
Emily Richardson
Nicholas Shakespeare
Charles Sturridge

︎ Contact/Info

Adapting Acradia quotes publicly available sound recordings only to the extent required for this non-commercial artwork. Jonathan Webb makes no claim to authorship or ownership over any of the quotations or repurposed recordings used in the production of this work. For practical and artistic reasons it has not been possible to reference and cite them individually.

© 2023 - Jonathan Webb