Monday, 6 October 2008

'Brideshead Revisited', depression induced alcoholism and Ben Whishaw

We went to see 'Brideshead Revisited' on Saturday. Well, actually, 'Bridshead Revisited', according to the sign outside of the Screen on Baker Street. You'd think that they could find someone who could spell!

We're 'Bridshead virgins', not having seen the 1981 version on tv here or having read the book. But I liked the film. Hated the revolting music. Not one scene was safe from the saccharine infested 'score' and thought the guy playing Charles Ryder a wee bit wet. But loved Ben Whishaw. I've thought highly of him since the first time that I saw him in 'Hamlet' on the stage in London. He was a revelation - probably because everything that he portrayed reminded us of 'Zach'. It was a brilliant depiction of a manic young man.

Obviously, not having read Evelyn Waugh's novel, I don't know why Sebastian Flyte was an alcoholic. Was it simply because he loathed and hated the all-encompassing religion that was imposed on him? Or was it because he hated himself for his homosexuality? Or the more Freudian questions: love of mother or desire for sister? I don't know. In any event, Whishaw once again gave a revealing performance of the utterly depressed, existential young man, whose contempt for life created within him a negation of joy, to the extent that he wished to blot it out by drowning himself in wine, wine and more wine. It certainly made me long for a glass though, so guess that he didn't make it as unattractive a proposition as Amy W. does drugs.

Back to drugs: I'm preparing for my first 'talk' on Friday. Thirty sixteen and seventeen year olds. 'Don't do drugs' is the thrust, although of course I can't actually say that. How do I leave them with one message out of the whole? Difficult to know where to start. Before and after photos? A chapter or two from the book? The knowledge that one in four of them will at some stage of their lives develop a mental health problem - and that invariably these days as a result of some kind of 'recreational' drug? Whoever thought of that nomenclature? I'll ask them to look around at one another and ask themselves who it will be? Difficult at that age when the idea of 'actions resulting in consquences' is anathema to them.

So nothing really changes over the years. Poor Sebastian Flyte probably drunk himself to death because of his deep and overriding depression and a quarter of the population will develop if not depression, then some other mental illness, and maybe a quarter of those will self-medicate with drugs of some kind and I'm supposed to use my experience as a guide why it's not a particularly good thing so to do. More like 'Hampstead Revisited...'

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