Howards End (film)

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Howards End
Howards end poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Ivory
Produced by Ismail Merchant
Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Based on Howards End
by E. M. Forster
Starring
Music by Richard Robbins
Percy Grainger (opening and end title)
Cinematography Tony Pierce-Roberts
Edited by Andrew Marcus
Production
company
Distributed by Mayfair (UK)
Sony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • 13 March 1992 (1992-03-13) (United States)
  • 1 May 1992 (1992-05-01) (United Kingdom)
  • 26 August 2016 (2016-08-26) (United States re-release)
Running time
142 minutes[1][2]
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • United States[3]
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $26.1 million

Howards End is a 1992 British romantic drama film based upon the novel of the same name by E. M. Forster (published in 1910), a story of class relations in turn-of-the-20th-century Britain. The film — produced by Merchant Ivory Productions as their third adaptation of a Forster novel (following A Room with a View in 1985 and Maurice in 1987) — was the first film to be released by Sony Pictures Classics. The screenplay was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, directed by James Ivory, and produced by Ismail Merchant.

Howards End was entered as official selection for Cannes International Film Festival and won 45th Anniversary Award. In 1993, the film received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture for Ismail Merchant and Best Director for James Ivory. The film won three awards, including for Best Art Direction (Art Direction: Luciana Arrighi; Set Decoration: Ian Whittaker). Ruth Prawer Jhabvala earned her second Academy Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, while Emma Thompson won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Actress.

Plot[edit]

In Edwardian Britain, Helen Schlegel becomes engaged to Paul Wilcox during a moment of passion, while she is staying at the country home of the Wilcox family, Howards End, the Schlegels are an intellectual family of Anglo-German bourgeoisie, while the Wilcoxes are conservative and wealthy, headed by hard-headed businessman Henry. Helen and Paul quickly decide against the engagement, but Helen has already sent a telegram informing her sister Margaret, which causes an uproar when the sisters' Aunt Juley arrives and causes a scene. Months later, when the Wilcox family takes a flat across the street from the Schlegels in London, Margaret resumes her acquaintance with Ruth Wilcox, whom she had briefly met before. Ruth is descended from English yeoman stock and it is through her family that the Wilcoxes have come to own Howards End, a house she loves dearly.

Over the course of the next few months, the two women become very good friends, even as Mrs. Wilcox's health declines. Hearing that the lease on the Schlegels' house is due to expire, Ruth on her death bed bequeaths Howards End to Margaret, this causes great consternation to the Wilcoxes, who refuse to believe that Ruth was in her "right mind" or could possibly have intended her home to go to a relative stranger. The Wilcoxes burn the piece of paper on which Ruth's bequest is written, deciding to ignore it completely. Henry begins to develop an attraction to Margaret, offering to assist her in finding a new home. Eventually he proposes marriage, which Margaret accepts.

Some time before this, the Schlegels had befriended a young clerk, Leonard Bast, who lives with a woman of dubious origins named Jacky. Both sisters find Leonard remarkable, appreciating his intellectual curiosity and desire to improve his lot in life, the sisters pass along advice from Henry to the effect that Leonard must leave his post, because the insurance company he works for is supposedly heading for bankruptcy. Leonard takes the advice and quits, but has to settle for a job paying much less, which he eventually loses altogether. Helen is later enraged to learn that Henry's advice was wrong and the company was perfectly sound.

Months later, Henry and Margaret host the wedding of his daughter Evie at his Shropshire estate. Margaret is shocked when Helen arrives with the Basts, whom she has found living in deep poverty. Considering that Henry is responsible for their plight, she demands he help them, however Jacky becomes drunk at the reception, and when she sees Henry she recognises and exposes him as a former lover from years ago. Henry is embarrassed and ashamed to have been revealed as an adulterer in front of Margaret, but she forgives him and agrees to send the Basts away, after the wedding, Helen, upset with Margaret's decision to marry a man she loathes, leaves for Germany, but not before having sex with Leonard.

Margaret and Henry marry, with the pair arranging to use Howards End as storage for Margaret's belongings, after months of only hearing from Helen through postcards, Margaret grows concerned. When Aunt Juley falls ill, Helen returns to England to visit her but, when she receives word that her aunt has recovered, avoids seeing Margaret or any of her family. Thinking that Helen is mentally unstable, Margaret lures her to Howards End to collect her belongings, only to turn up herself with Henry and a doctor. However, on first glance she realises that Helen is heavily pregnant. Helen insists on returning to Germany to raise her baby alone, but asks that she be allowed to stay the night at Howards End before she leaves. When Margaret requests this from Henry, he stubbornly refuses and the two bicker.

The next day, Leonard, still living unhappily in poverty with Jacky, leaves London and travels to Howards End to see the Schlegels. When he arrives he finds the pair, as well as Henry's brutish eldest son Charles. Charles quickly realizes that Leonard is the baby's father, and begins assaulting him for "dishonouring" Helen; in his rage, he beats him with the flat of a sword, which causes Leonard to have a heart attack and die. The police charge Charles with manslaughter and Henry breaks down when Margaret tells him that she is leaving him to help raise Helen's baby.

A year later, Paul, Evie, and Charles's wife Dolly gather at Howards End. Henry and Margaret are still together, and living with Helen and her young son. Henry tells the others that upon his death, Margaret will receive Howards End, but no money, at her own request. Dolly points out the irony of Margaret inheriting the house, revealing Mrs. Wilcox's dying wish to Margaret for the first time. Henry admits to what happened, and Margaret appears to forgive him.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Financing[edit]

Merchant-Ivory had considerable difficulty securing funding for Howards End, the budget of which stood at $8 million, this was considerably larger than that of Maurice and A Room with a View, which led to trouble in raising capital in the UK and the United States. Orion Pictures, the film's distributor, was on the verge of bankruptcy and only contributed a small amount to the overall budget.[4] A solution presented itself when Merchant Ivory sought funding through an intermediary in Japan, where the previous Forster adaptations, particularly Maurice, had been very successful. Eventually Japanese companies including the Sumitomo Corporation, Japan Satellite Broadcasting and the Imagica Corporation provided the bulk of the film's financing, the distribution problem would be solved when the heads of Orion Classics departed the company for Sony Pictures, creating the entirely new division of Sony Pictures Classics. Howards End would become the first title distributed by this new division.[5]

Casting[edit]

Anthony Hopkins accepted the part of Henry Wilcox after reading the script, passed to him by a young woman who was helping edit Slaves of New York and The Silence of the Lambs simultaneously in the same building. Phoebe Nicholls, Joely Richardson, Miranda Richardson and Tilda Swinton were all considered for the part of Margaret Schlegel before Emma Thompson accepted the role. Jemma Redgrave (Evie Wilcox), who played the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave (Ruth Wilcox), is her niece off-screen. Samuel West, who played Leonard Bast, is the son of Prunella Scales, who played Aunt Juley.

Music[edit]

The score was composed by Richard Robbins, with elements of the score based on Percy Grainger's works "Bridal Lullaby" and "Mock Morris", the piano pieces were performed by the English concert pianist Martin Jones.

Filming locations[edit]

Filming locations in London included a house in Victoria Square, which stood in for the Schlegel home, Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, Simpson's-in-the-Strand restaurant, and St. Pancras Station.[6] Areas around the Admiralty Arch and in front of the Royal Exchange in the City of London were dressed to film traffic scenes of 1910 London. The scene where Margaret and Helen stroll with Henry in the evening was filmed on Chiswick Mall in Chiswick, London, the bank where Leonard encounters Helen is the lobby of the Baltic Exchange, 30 St. Mary Axe, London. Soon after filming the building was bombed and destroyed by the IRA, the Rosewood London on High Holborn, which was then the Pearl Assurance Building, represented the Porphyrion Fire Insurance Company.[6]

The quadrangle of the Founder's Building at Royal Holloway, University of London stood in for the hospital where Margaret visits Mrs. Wilcox. [1] The "Howards End" house in the countryside is Peppard Cottage in Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire; Dolly and Charles's house is nearby, as is the bluebell wood where Leonard strolls in his dream.[7] Henry's country house, Honiton, was actually Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire, near the Welsh border.[8] Bewdley railway station on the historic Severn Valley Railway featured as Hilton station.[9]

Release[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received massive critical acclaim, on 5 June 2005, Roger Ebert included it on his list of "Great Movies".[10] Leonard Maltin awarded the film a rare 4 out of 4 star rating, and called the film "Extraordinarily good on every level."[11]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 93%, based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A superbly-mounted adaptation of E.M. Forster's tale of British class tension, with exceptional performances all round, Howards End ranks among the best of Merchant-Ivory's work."[12] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 89 out of 100, based on 10 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[13]

According to the website Box Office Mojo, the total gross of the film stands at $26.1 million.[14]

In 2016, the film was selected for screening as part of the Cannes Classics section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival,[15] and was released theatrically after restoration on August 26, 2016.[16]

Home media[edit]

The Criterion Collection released Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film on November 3, 2009 that have since gone out of print. The release was unfortunately subject to a bronzing issue which would discolor the disc bronze and render it unplayable, this was due to a pressing issue with the factory, though not every disc was subject to bronzing. Cohen Film Collection released their own special edition Blu-ray on December 6, 2016.

Awards and nominations[edit]

65th Academy Awards (1992)

46th British Academy Film (BAFTA) Awards (1992)

50th Golden Globe Awards (1992)

1992 Directors Guild of America Awards

  • Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures - James Ivory

1992 Writers Guild of America Awards

  • Nominated: Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

1992 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

1992 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

1992 National Society of Film Critics Awards

1992 National Board of Review Awards

Cannes Film Festival

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HOWARDS END". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 26 December 2017. 
  2. ^ "HOWARDS END - Festival de Cannes". Festival de Cannes. 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2017. 
  3. ^ "British Council Film: Howards End". British Council. 28 April 2016. UK, Japan, US coproduction 
  4. ^ Building Howards End (dvd). Criterion Collection. 2005. 
  5. ^ "Sony Pictures Classics - About Us". SonyClassics.com. 
  6. ^ a b John Pym (1995). Merchant Ivory's English Landscape. p. 93. 
  7. ^ "Howard's End". The Castles and Manor Houses of Cinema's Greatest Period Films. Architectural Digest. January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Country Life. "Interview, Edward Harley". Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Howards End film locations". Movie-locations.com. Retrieved 9 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Howards End (1992)". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  11. ^ Martin, Leonard (2015). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. Signet Books. p. 653. ISBN 978-0-451-46849-9. 
  12. ^ "Howards End". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Howards End". Metacritic. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Howards End". Box Office Mojo. 
  15. ^ "Cannes Classics 2016". Cannes Film Festival. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (17 June 2016). "Restored 'Howards End' to Be Released in Theaters". Variety.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017. 
  17. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Howards End". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 

External links[edit]