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A Room With A View [1986] (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1986 / Director: James Ivory / Actors: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter ... / DVD released 19 March, 2001 at Universal Pictures UK / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      31.01.2012 12:05
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      A beautiful piece of feel-good romantic drama

      A Room with a View adapted from the novel by E M Forster is one of my all time favourite films. This period drama boasts a fantastic cast of actors who are arguably amongst the greatest talents this country has to offer. To be able to utter the names Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench and Simon Callow in the same breath is a feat indeed. While we also have a young Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel-Day Lewis and Rupert Graves who have all gone on to shine in the acting profession. I was first introduced to this film, which was released to critical acclaim in 1986, at a young age, so young I was made to turn away at the rather violent scene in the square in Florence and was exceedingly embarrassed when some of the male characters decided to go for a bathe - naked. And as time has gone on I have never tired of this film and get more and more out of it as my own life experiences allow me to see the story and the character from different perspectives. For a film to be able to do that is a mark of a great piece of art, while at the same time the film has the ability to transport me back to a time of great innocence, where true love conquered all and life was peaceful and beautiful and played out in beautiful country mansions and lush Tuscan landscapes. The plot follows the central character Lucy Honeychurch, played by a youthful Bonham Carter, who is forced to tow the line as a young Edwardian lady, complete with the ever comic and witty, and slightly frazzled Dame Maggie as chaperone Charlotte. But we sense there is a restless spirit under the surface as she appears stifled and restricted in the drawing rooms of her family home and plays the piano was such force and passion. As Mr Beebe, played by Simon Callow, comments, if Lucy lived out life with as much passion as she puts into her piano playing she would become truly wonderful. Lucy is set to marry the uptight, studious and staid Cecil, brought to life by Day-Lewis, but we can see this is a most inappropriate match. Her trip to Italy opens her eyes to a whole new world of expression and beauty and most monumentally she meets George who is the antithesis of Cecil. He is quiet and unable to express himself in words unlike the bookish Cecil but he is handsome and romantic and falls hard for Lucy. The scene in the barley when he pulls her to him and kisses her is one of the romantic scenes in cinematic history and as an audience we find ourselves willing on Lucy to fall in love with him. But at the same time I couldn't help but empathise with Cecil who is by no means an unlikeable character. Even though we know he is unable to appreciate Lucy as she should be - to him she is an object, a work of art to admire, not a person to love and cherish - I believe we cannot treat him too harshly for this. Scenes such as when he goes to kiss Lucy and his spectacles get in the way show his vulnerability, while providing a great juxtaposition to Lucy and George's kiss. Tension is built in the plot as we hold our breath against Cecil finding out about this kiss from reading the novel of Charlotte's friend Eleanor Lavish, played by Dame Judi, who has used their budding love as inspiration for her own book. Cecil is a true gentleman on finding out that Lucy's heart is not in their engagement and he leaves the house to the glee of all the family we discover, especially Rupert Graves' character, Lucy's little brother Freddie. As in true British drama the plot still takes a few more twists and turns, built on misunderstandings and cross purposes, before Lucy and George finally get together and we have the lovely scenes at the end when they return to Italy as husband and wife. The film is wonderfully sentimental, arty and beautiful and incredibly old-fashioned, seeming to be a product of a decade prior to the 80s. Touches such as chapter headings to clunky piano music and the striking up of the orchestra for romance and beats on the percussion for drama and suspense really add to this old-fashioned piece and there is not a single special effect in sight. This is British cinema at its best.

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        14.02.2009 16:49
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        A Room with a View is a 1986 period film directed by James Ivory and adapted from E.M Forster's novel with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The film was widely praised by critics and nominated for several Academy Awards and its famous cast features, amongst others, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The central character in A Room with a View is Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), a youthful and somewhat repressed product of Edwardian England and the establishment. Lucy is naturally expected to marry a wealthy husband and to be prim and dutiful, but her carefully ordered and chaperoned life - and values - are gradually turned upside down by a chance meeting with the iconoclastic and romantic George Emerson (Julian Sands) during a trip to Italy. The unconventional George, in addition to the lush countryside and beautiful art of Florence, makes Lucy begin to wonder if there isn't more to life than her stuffy upbringing would suggest... Although I find some of the Merchant Ivory films I have seen a tad dull, A Room with a View is an exception for me and two pleasant hours of upscale, sophisticated entertainment featuring a suitably strong cast of British actors. Perhaps the best thing about the film is that it isn't too ponderous or serious or arty but instead ends up rather playful and frivolous with a fairly light tone. The final result is an enjoyable and stylish film. Use of amusing chapter titles ("Lying to George" "Lying to Cecil" etc) in A Room with a View is a nicely cynical device and captures the sly spirit of the film. It is of course also exceptionally well made with the British countryside and some beautiful locations in Italy supplying wonderful backdrops and adding greatly to the charm of the film. A Room with a View a very polished comedy of manners and you do find yourself rooting for the central protagonists and hoping that everything resolves itself happily. A Room with a View is a smaller, more compact, and more enjoyable film than, for example, David Lean's 'A Passage To India' Forster adaption of a few years before. The coming of age and arc of Lucy Honeychurch is the heart of the film and the vague love triangle that develops between her, George and Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) helps to draw you into the film more and more and very eager to see how it turns out in the end. Daniel Day-Lewis does a pretty good job as the nerdy, bookish and oily Cecil, a man so uptight and dull he makes John Major look like Jim Carrey. Despite being a berk, Cecil offers security and wealth and Lucy, as a product of the establishment, is prim and proper in his presence, making plans for their unquestioned future together. It's just assumed in this era that a young woman like Lucy will marry a man like Cecil. Daniel Day-Lewis seems to have good fun with the character of Cecil Vyse, an arrogant upper-class twit who unknowingly competes with George for Lucy. "He's the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman," says George of Cecil. "He doesn't know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn't want you to be real, and to think and to live." Lucy begins the film as an observer of life but the arrival of George slowly makes her begin to question everything, including old Cecil. Her true personality has never been allowed to develop but George, and his equally eccentric and free-spirited father (Denholm Elliott), awaken Lucy's feelings and sense of herself. The brief encounter between Lucy and George in a barley field is a very famous and romantic scene in A Room with a View. Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast as Lucy Honeychurch. In an endless array of very authentic and buttoned up period costumes, she genuinely looks and sounds as if she's just walked out of another era. Bonham Carter also does a good job in conveying a sense of growing independence and passion beneath the prim exterior and has one of the sulkiest and most charming frowns in cinematic history. You couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. Julian Sands is, let's be honest, probably not the world's greatest actor. However, he is suitably dashing as George in A Room with a View and his slightly odd delivery adds to the offbeat and unconventional nature of his character in a strange way. I have no idea what Sands is up to now but he'll probably always be remembered for his role here as George Emerson. You do always want George and Lucy to ditch Cecil and run away together so A Room with a View always keeps your attention once it has it. Elsewhere, Maggie Smith is memorable and excellent as Lucy's fussy chaperone Charlotte Bartlett and Judi Dench brings her usual twitchy authority to the role of Eleanor Lavish. Simon Callow camps it up a bit as The Reverend Mr Beebe and Rupert Graves is a tad annoying as Lucy's floppy haired and hyperactive Hooray Henry brother Freddy, but Denholm Elliott is excellent as usual as the eccentric but wise Mr Emerson. Elliott creates a warm, distinctive and very likeable character and adds to the overall charm and pleasant nature of the film. "I don't care what I see outside. My vision is within!" says Mr Emerson. The lush visuals are enhanced by a pleasant and well chosen score and A Room with a View reeks of elegance which transforms it into a very nice piece of escapism. The film is, of course, very romantic and old fashioned too. A Room with a View is a bit mannered in places but overall is a charming and very well made film that contains much to enjoy. The locations alone make it worth a look.

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          02.12.2008 11:32
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          If you love Merchant Ivory films in general, or have a love for Florence you'll enjoy the film !!

          This is one of my favourite novel adaptations of all time. I fell in love with the book as a teenager, falling in love with Florence along with it and still enjoy the film just as much now as I did when I first watched it. This is the Helena-Bonham Carter version, as there is now an updated version which I didn't enjoy as much. This is a Merchant-Ivory production so if you're a fan of the likes of The White Countess, Remains of the Day and Howard's End then you'll probably enjoy this production too, told with the same classy production, well cast and a lovely soundtrack to boot !! As already stated, the film is based the novel "A room with a view" by E. M Forster, who based the final novel on various writings written by Forster ( which were later published under the name "The Lucy Novels" ) and there are some parts of those Lucy Novels that are contained in the film, although not in the finished novel, such as the scene between Lucy HoneyChurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter ) and the guide in the Sante Croce. The film begins by the arrival of Luch HoneyChurch and Charlotte Bartlett ( played by Maggie Smith ) and are left disappointed when the rooms with views they were promised do not materialise. However, at dinner they meet a father and son ( Mr Emerson played by Denholm Elliot and George Emerson played by Julian Sands ) who are willing to swop their rooms with views for those occupied by Lucy and Charlotte. However, Charlotte is less than impressed with the conduct of the father and son, and feels uncomfortable at feeling in debted to the duo if she were to accept. However, under the guidance of Reverand Beebe ( one of my favourite characters, played by Simon Gallow ) Charlotte backs down and allows the swop to take place. The 'relationship' between George and Lucy has now begun but it's not until a meeting in the Piazza Signora square, after Lucy faints, that they begin to become closer. Lucy struggles with her feelings ( throughout most of the book infact ! ) but George is pretty upfront and honest with what he perceives is going on between them. Later, a meeting in a field in Fiesole one day, cements their feelings when George kisses Lucy. Charlotte on witnessing the act is horrified and presumes that George will tell everyone about their encounter. As a result, Charlotte and Lucy return to Summerstreet. Other characters that we meet in Italy include the Miss Allens and Miss Lavish ( a novelist, played by Judi Dench. ) This is where we meet Lucy's brother Freddy, her Mother and Lucy's soon-to-be fiance Cecil ( played by Daniel Day Lewis. ) Here we also learn that not only is Rv Beebe to be their new local clergyman but that Sir Harry Otway a local landlord if looking for new tenants for his villa. Lucy recommends the Miss Allens but through a chance meeting with the Emersons, Cecil invites the father and son to view the villa, which they accept. Lucy is horrified as she is now engaged and when she finds out that Miss Lavish writes about her and George's encounter in Italy (after George kisses her again ) she demands that he leaves, never to return. George pleads with her that Cecil is not the man for her and she should know that he is, Lucy continues to shun George but breaks off her engagement with Cecil and plans to travel with the Miss Allens to get away from it all. It isn't until she finds out that the Emersons are leaving Summerstreet that she admits to her feelings and George and Lucy are finally united. The film ends back in Florence, where it seems that Lucy an George are very happy. In the book, it is hinted that George later dies during World War I but it is not written as fact so we do not know for sure. Therefore, the film ends happier than the book. It's a wonderfully shot film, well cast and well acted, with beautiful scenery and music !!

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            12.09.2008 11:51
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            An excellent adaptation of a wonderful novel

            A Room with a View is a Merchant Ivory film based on a book of the same name by E. M. Forster. Winning three Oscars in 1987, while being nominated for several more, the film was a critical and popular success. After reading a novel it's my usual practice to seek out a good adaptation of it therefore upon finishing Forster's wonderful book it was natural that I'd find this movie. The story follows Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bohnam-Carter) who is a young woman under the charge of her cousin Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith). The two are vacationing in Florence when they fall into the acquaintance of Mr. Emerson (Denholm Eliott) and his son, George (Julian Sands); both are free spirited men unlike the generally stiff Edwardian company they are used to. When George, quite improperly and passionately, kisses Lucy she is whisked back to England and shortly becomes engaged to the emotionally cold and rather rigid Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis). The central themes of both the novel and the movie are about growing up, falling in love and the repression of emotions. Cecil is the prime example of a man who is sexually and emotionally reserved, his relationship with Lucy is passionless, a complete contrast to the relationship between George and Lucy. Another key theme is the disparity between the old fashioned and more revolutionary characters in the novel which mirrored the situation that was beginning in society; this is after all set only a few years before the suffrage movement. A Room With a View was the first major outing for the actress Helena Bonham Carter who I now a major star and incidentally one of my all time favorite actresses. She plays Lucy so wonderfully that I can no longer imagine any one else in the role. Maggie Smith is delightful as always and we even get a chance to see her play against the marvelous Judi Dench again. Daniel Day Lewis is perfect as Cecil, his character is so convincingly emotionally stunted and repressed that I was hooked by his performance. A little note goes to Rupert Graves who I found completely adorable as Lucy's brother Freddy. The only weak link in the cast goes to Julian Sands who unfortunately has a rather important role as George Emerson. His portray was frustrating because there were times that I really liked the character and others were I found him a bit irritating and embarrassing. Ultimately he wasn't the character I'd imagined when reading the book but even that didn't ruin this wonderful production for me. The movie is split into two locations, the first half being set in Florence and the second half in England. When reading the novel Florence quickly went on my must visit list but after watching this movie it shot to the top, right next to St Petersburg (thanks to Crime and Punishment). The location shots are beautiful and playing O Mio Babbino on the score probably helped me get the feel for the location. The scenes in the city itself showcase the historic buildings to perfection but also the scene with the kiss is nicely shot to show the fields and countryside. One note of warning, there is one unexpected and somewhat unnecessary scene featuring a lot of nudity. When I first watched the film I was used to my BBC production on a Sunday evening were the thought of nudity was unimaginable so I was utterly shocked when I saw the scene featuring three of the male characters basically skinny dipping and baring all. Ultimately this is by far the best adaptation of E. M. Forsters novel and a brilliant film in its own right. The cast is great as is the script and costume design. There really is very little to fault, it's a thoroughly enjoyable few hours of television.

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              17.10.2000 23:38
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              A Room With A View This Ivory-Merchant period comedy-drama boasts an impressive cast: Helen Bonham-Carter, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, Simon Callow and Denholm Elliot to name but a few and not one of them lets the side down. The film is based on E.M Forster's novel of the same name and is remarkably faithful to the book. Set shortly before the First World War it opens with Lucy Honeychurch (Helen Bonham-Carter) and her spinster cousin and chaperone Charlotte (Maggie Smith) arriving in Florence as they tour Europe. In their Florence pension they meet an array of British tourists who will change their lives. Among the mixed bag of travelers are the Emmerson's, an unconventional father and son (Denholm Elliot and Julian Sands), a lady novelist Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), the elderly spinster sisters the Misses Alans and a familiar face from home - their vicar Rev Beebe (Simon Callow). The scenery of Florence and the surrounding countryside makes this a beautifully visual film and it is in this setting Lucy's approach to life is challenged by George Emmerson (Sands) who's unorthodox and informal embrace on life is at odds with the starchy social requirements leftover from the Victorian era. The glorious Italian setting perfectly echoes the awakening passions of this young Edwardian woman. On her return to England the binds of her life become more apparent, especially embodied in her fiancé Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) who is every inch the nerd! Fate deems that her experiences in Italy and her comparatively dull, uptight English life will meet and need to be resolved but what will she choose when George Emmerson unexpectedly re-enters her life? I'm not going to go into any more story detail in fear of spoiling it for those who have yet to see the film. And yes, this is the film with Simon Callow, Rupert Graves and Julian Sands running naked around a pool but in Kenny Everett's words 'it's all in the best possible taste' and the outcome is very funny! If you enjoy costume and period drama I would highly recommend this film. Of all Ivory-Merchants offerings I would say this has to be their best. I have seen this film many times and I never tire of it. As I said before, it is a visually stunning film, very atmospheric with excellent performances from all concerned. It is wonderfully romantic and an amusing satire on the social constraints on of the time. It has a superb score including extracts from Puccini operas which add to the ambience perfectly. Sit back for 2hrs with a bottle of Italian wine and enjoy!

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              The prestigious film-making trio of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala had made other critically acclaimed films before A Room with a View was released in 1985, but it was this popular film that made them art-house superstars. Splendidly adapted from the novel by E.M. Forster, it's a comedy of the heart, a passionate romance and a study of repression within the class system of manners and mores. It's that system of rigid behaviour that prevents young Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) from accepting the loving advances of a free-spirited suitor (Julian Sands), who fears that she will follow through with her engagement to a priggish intellectual (Daniel Day-Lewis) whose capacity for passion is virtually non-existent. During and after a trip to Italy with her protective companion (Maggie Smith), Lucy gradually gets in touch with her true emotions. The fun of watching A Room with a View comes from seeing how Lucy's thoughts and feelings finally arrive at the same romantic conclusion. Through an abundance of humour both subtle and overt, the film rose to an unexpected level of popular appeal. The Merchant-Ivory team received eight Academy Award nominations for their efforts, and won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Costume Design. --Jeff Shannon