29 August 2009 | rboysdad
All is not lost
I was unaware of this film adaptation of Waugh's trilogy until today's showing on British freeview TV, and missing the first half hour, also missed the chance to record it to DVD. Drat. Until I saw it. Very pretty production by Channel 4 TV and Talkback, made some 8 years back, before Daniel Craig became a superstar.
I've read and reread a lot of Waugh but believed Sword of Honour to be an inexplicably stolid, inaccessibly unreadable work, so big, so long, so dull. Brideshead was the beginning of the end, the trilogy was the end writ large.
Until I found the BBC radio adaptation from 1974, over 11 hours rather than this film's 4. After a few hours I began to see the early Waugh wrapped inside the less obviously satirical wrappings, his humour and gravity. The genius, in short.
They don't make them like Waugh any more, nor do they make the people; the 1974 recording was made in time to catch many authentic sounding voices from the era, and some very fine acting. A gem which I recommend to any Waugh fans.
This film seems to be, probably, a rather adroit shot at a script which condenses a huge tome to a few hours, but the vowels are comprehensive school, Craig is hopelessly wrong, and there are but a few flashes of sharp observation and very little wit. But the audio version is available on the internet, and of course the pictures are better.