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The Remains Of The Day (DVD)

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5 Reviews

Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1993 / Director: James Ivory / Actors: John Haycraft, Christopher Reeve ... / DVD released 22 October, 2001 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL, Widescreen

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    5 Reviews
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      20.02.2013 01:18
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      Well worth a watch!

      RELEASED: 1993, Cert. U

      RUNNING TIME: Approx. 135 mins

      DIRECTOR: James Ivory

      PRODUCERS: John Calley, Ismail Merchant & Mike Nichols

      SCREENPLAY: Ruth Prawer Jhabyala

      MUSIC: Richard Robbins

      MAIN CAST:-

      Anthony Hopkins as James Stevens
      Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton
      James Fox as Lord Darlington
      Christopher Reeve as Jack Lewis
      Hugh Grant as Reginald Cardinal

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      FILM ONLY REVIEW

      Adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name, The Remains Of The Day begins in what I believe is meant to be the early 1950s, with wealthy American Reginald Cardinal buying Darlington Hall, after the death of its previous owner, Lord Darlington. James Stevens has been head butler of the huge country house for many years, and continues his service under Reginald Cardinal.

      As a long shot, James Stevens contacts Miss Kenton, who he had previously employed as head housekeeper prior to WW2 with the view of asking her if she will return and take up her old position in the house. After receiving a letter from Miss Kenton, James drives from Darlington Hall in rural Oxfordshire, down to the West Country to see her.

      The film then flashes back to just before WW2 in Darlington Hall, to the day when James Stevens first employed Miss Kenton. After she accepts the job, the storyline continues mostly in this flashback format, following James's and Miss Kenton's growing, yet unacknowledged attraction towards one another.

      Meanwhile, Lord Darlington entertains various foreign political figures at the house, with heated discussions taking place over what should be done to avert the first rumblings of WW2.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      The Remains Of The Day starts off well, taking the viewer back to a long-ago England...one of country mansions, fox-hunting, maids, butlers and the political corruption exercised by the ruling classes. James Stevens and Miss Kenton go about their daily tasks with a calm demeanour, never letting their professional stance slip.

      The historic aspects of this film are put across extremely well. The style of clothes, domestic décor, appearance of shops and streets in the nearby village etc. are spot-on. I was trying hard to detect something small that the film director may have missed (cruel of me, I know!) such as an unnoticed passer-by in the street doing something like using a mobile phone, but I didn't see any slip-ups at all. Those historic accuracy levels resulted in me whilst watching The Remains Of The Day, truly feeling as though I'd been stepped into a time machine and gone back to another era.

      The acting in The Remains Of The Day is extremely good by the whole main cast, with Anthony Hopkins as head butler James Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton flawlessly stealing the show. Although his part was much smaller, despite being significant, Hugh Grant was surprisingly delightful as good-natured political journalist Reginald Cardinal, and although nothing in the film is intended to contain any comedy in the slightest, I couldn't help raising a smile at one or two little quirks in his character. Christopher Reeve also gave a decent performance as the easy-going, liberal-minded Jack Lewis, the wealthy American who buys Darlington Hall after the death of Lord Darlington. James Fox as Lord Darlington himself is also very good, although it is my opinion that his equally involved part was less demanding than the other main characters.

      The music to The Remains Of The Day is orchestral in nature, changing in mood as appropriate to whatever is happening during the story, but much of the time I only had a vague awareness of it, as it slid nicely into the background.

      This is a film which relies heavily on character development, and how people's perceptions of one another gradually shift under a thick veneer of professional self-control....mingled with political wheeling, dealing and well-veiled subterfuge. I found that I needed to expend some concentration whilst attempting to stay on the level with the story and focus on the off to the side issues, once or twice getting a little confused about which parts were flashbacks and which weren't, but I think I did manage to stay with the plot.

      Although The Remains Of The Day is a very slick, polished romantic drama set in an atmosphere of almost obscene wealth and political wrangling, I did find it a bit slow moving at times, feeling that some scenes were unnecessary to the overall storyline and its impact. I feel that impact could have been more powerful were the film just a little shorter.

      It was also distracting for me in that I just can't help typecasting Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, and in The Remains Of The Day (which wasn't made too long after Silence Of The Lambs), the way Hopkins delivers most of his lines, and some of his facial expressions are identical to that of Lecter....this is a pity, because overall Anthony Hopkins is an actor of admirable worth and ability, who for me, seems to have become irretrievably trapped in one of his previous cinematic personas. I realise that is my problem rather than any flaw in Hopkins' acting though, but it did mar my enjoyment of The Remains Of The Day just a tiny bit.

      Overall and despite my very minor niggles outlined above, The Remains Of The Day nonetheless is an interesting, well-acted, well-presented and constructed film where the characterisation has been carefully thought out, along with great attention having been paid to historical accuracy. The drama levels are tasteful and quiet, which makes a pleasant change from films which are in your face, and overall it is a sleek, professional production that I'm sure would appeal to most people who love something with a bit of class.

      However, despite for the most part having enjoyed The Remains Of The Day very much, I don't think it is something I'd choose to see again as it isn't the type of film that would make me hanker for second helpings. It is really worth watching though, and does come highly recommended from me, but I believe it may appeal to women slightly more than men....possibly because of the romantic element, even if such is veiled.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      At the time of writing, The Remains Of The Day can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

      New: from £4.50 to £29.99
      Used: from £1.25 to £7.00

      Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

      Thanks for reading!

      ~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~

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      • More +
        25.10.2009 11:23
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        A Classic

        The remains of the day is a true classic merchant ivory film.

        The film centres on proud a proud Butler and a wonderfull spirited housekeeper who's unspoken love is centre of the film.

        Hopkins plays Stevens who has served his master for many years and his job as pushed the love of his life away. The film is bout regret and how you deal with your choice.

        The two main characters are so in love with eachother but dont even get to kiss throughout the film, its through stares and interaction you see the repressed love in the chacters eyes with pride pushing Miss kenton away from hopkins Butler.

        The Costumes are magnificent and the attention to detail is admirable.
        The setting is almost real and the acting and direction so impressive you feel you are being part of the era.

        The commentry on the dvd is standard with tales of hoe great the actors were and how they ended up pursuading to use peoples houses for the film

        All in all a wonderfull love story with powerhouse performance from Hopkins and Thompson

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          18.12.2000 16:43
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          This is a great film lifted almost in it's entirity from the book of the same name. It focuses on the life of Stevens the butler of Darlington Hall were he's been serving loyally since the dawn of time. The film opens in the the 1950's as the house passes into the ownership of Senator Lewis (Christopher Reeve)who persuades Stevens to take a driving holiday to Devon and into his past. Much of the film is told in flashback and concerns Steven's relationship with Miss Kenton (Emma Thomson)the house's fiesty housekeeper. We see the house in it's glory days in the 1930's with it's army of servants and grand occasions. The owner Lord Darlington is suckered by the Germans and is branded a traitor after the second world war. Despite the potential shame of working for a Nazi sympathiser Stevens is oblivious and seeks only to serve. Miss Kenton is more aware but backs down for fear of being lonley even when her Jewish maids are dismissed. The class system and the nature of dignity are all constant themes but the main story is the unspoken love and affection the main characters feel for each other. Unable to speak any emotion life passes Stevens by and he soon contemplates the point of his existence beyond his dogsbody duties. Sad and poignent the film is deliciously shot and played,with Anthony Hopkins never better as the ageing butler. The supporting cast is great too with Peter'Grouty'Vaughn as Steven's father, another butler who realises his wasted life just as he's dying. Hugh Grant also appears as the Lord's nephew,and there's a great scene where the unworldly wise Stevens struggles to tell him the facts of life. The film is slightly softer than the book with Stevens even getting a christian name (James/Jim). He also goes to the weeping Miss Kenton whereas in the book he just listens at the door-still that's Hollywood for you!. A enjoyable and moving film tha
          t may just prompt you to tell that girl in accounts how you really feel!.

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            13.09.2000 02:28
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            This is a beautifully romantic film. Okay, it's not in the most obvious way, but this is the way true romantic films should be. In this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same title, Anthony Hopkins plays Stevens, a Butler who is so utterly loyal and dedicated to his job that he appears almost inhuman. The film tracks his memories of a relationship with Miss Kenton, the housekeeper, (Emma Thompson) as he embarks upon a journey to reunite with her after twenty years have passed. Although there is never physical romance, or even spoken words of love to show how close the two become, their feelings for each other become obvious to the audience. The subtle way in which their relationship is presented makes each look, facial expression and sentence ten times as meaningful as it would otherwise be. This is a film which stays in your mind, as so much is said with so little. The book is equally impressive, although I recommend you read the book first, otherwise you will only be able to imagine Stevens the Butler as Hopkins, the way he appears in the film. The film is acted beautifully - Hopkins and Thompson really do their characters justice. The story of what was going on elsewhere in the house, which runs alongside the story of the relationship, is also engaging and emotional. The dark scenery reflect the dark subplots, which hide the truth regarding the object of Stevens' misguided loyalty at the time of the sinister approach of World War II. Similarly, the rather colourless backdrops of the house seems to reflect the mask of each character as he plays his role in the house. However it is really unnecessary to note such detail in a watching - the real drama takes place in the body language and unspoken words. In the "present" scenes, there is a driving rain which worsens as Stevens returns to his love and faces his feelings, all without a word or a touch, and still holding fiercely to his Butler
            's starched pride. The film was subtly and successfully directed by James Ivory. I was unsurprised to find several excellent films in this director's repetoire - before Remains of the Day he directed Howards End and A Room With a View in 1986. James Ivory certainly chooses to work with experienced and admired actors, but he is surely due some credit for extracting the best performances from them, Remains of the Day being no exception. This is an excellent film if you like drama films and subtle but deep characters. Although it is a period drama in some sense, this is not an overpowering feature of the film. Rather, it is one one of the many understated details which have contributed to this rounded, layered and thoroughly enjoyable film.

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              24.08.2000 11:22
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              I was so excited when this film came out, having read the book by Kazuo Ishiguro. I made my son come with me to see it and he fell asleep; literally nodded off in the cinema. It's not an action movie, one could call it an 'inaction movie', but/and I love it. Screenplay I believe is by another wonderful author and Merchant Ivory collaborator - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - and the actors - Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson do justice to their script. This is one of those films which is uncanningly like the book. It is not a matter of detail but of spirit. It happened with the Asterix film. I suspect it happened with 'Rogue Trader. There are differences in emphasis; the film seemed far more political, but the overall feeling is the same. Come to think of it, meticulous detail is of the spirit of this film. It's not sentimental. There is no raw emotion. It didn't win Oscars, although it was nominated for quite a few. Either it is the sort of thing you like, or it isn't. No, that's wrong. There is no 'sort of thing' about either the book or the film. It stands alone. Hate to say it, but I think it is Art.

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          • Product Details

            The Remains of the Day is one of Merchant-Ivory's most thought-provoking films. Anthony Hopkins is a model of restraint and propriety as Stevens, the butler who "knows his place"; Emma Thompson is the animated and sympathetic Miss Kenton, the housekeeper whose attraction to Stevens is doomed to disappointment. As Nazi appeaser Lord Darlington, James Fox clings to the notion of a gentleman's agreement in the ruthless political climate before World War Two. Hugh Grant is his journalist nephew all too aware of reality, while Christopher Reeves gives a spirited portrayal of an American senator, whose purchase of Darlington Hall 20 years on sends Stevens on a journey to right the mistake he made out of loyalty. As a period drama with an ever-relevant message, this 1993 film is absorbing viewing all the way. On the DVD: the letterbox widescreen format reproduces the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with absolute clarity. Subtitles are in French and German, with audio subtitles also in English, Italian and Spanish, and with 28 separate chapter selections. The "making-of" featurette and retrospective documentary complement each other with their "during and after" perspectives, while "Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honour" is an interesting short on the question of appeasement and war. The running commentary from Thompson, Merchant and Ivory is more of a once-only diversion. --Richard Whitehouse