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Adapting Arcadia explores the enduring appeal of Brideshead Revisited on screen. Crafted from archival recordings and historical broadcasts, it moves deftly between biographical documentary, radio drama 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 one of the most faithful and carefully crafted novel-to-film adaptations ever produced.
Using Waugh’s Hollywood memo as a guiding narrative thread, Adapting Arcadia contrasts Granada’s adaptation with Evelyn Waugh’s vision for his story on film. 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.
This project was originally commisioned 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