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Howards End is E.M. Forster's beautifully subtle story of the crisscrossing paths of the privileged and those they disdain--and of a remarkable pair of women who can see beyond class distinctions. Dramatic and tragic, but also surprisingly funny, this James Ivory film focuses on a pair of unmarried sisters (Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar, and Helena Bonham Carter) who befriend a poor young clerk (Sam West) and, without meaning to, ruin his life. Meanwhile, Thompson also makes the acquaintance of a dying neighbor (Vanessa Redgrave), who leaves her a family home in her will--which her husband (Anthony Hopkins) destroys. But, ironically, he meets and falls in love with Thompson, even as their paths once more intersect with the increasingly miserable young clerk. Nuanced acting, gorgeous but muted cinematography, and a beautifully economical script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, which also won an Oscar. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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HOWARD'S END is set, for the most part, in London, and revolves around two families: the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes. The Schlegels and the Wilcoxes are separated by class; the Schlegels are a middle class family, comfortable, but definitely not "old money," while the Wilcoxes are far more "to the manor born." Society, at the time HOWARD'S END takes place, dictated that the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes definitely not mix. However, mix they do, with disastrous results.
In the Schlegel family are two sisters, Margaret (Emma Thompson), the older and plainer, and Helen (Helena Bonham-Carter), the younger and more beautiful. We know trouble is brewing when Helen becomes involved, though briefly, with young Paul Wilcox. Of course, the Wilcoxes consider Helen (or any Schlegel, for that matter) to be beneath them, but the affair also distresses the Schlegels as well.
The lives of the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes are destined to be intertwined, however, and Margaret befriends Ruth Wilcox (beautifully played by the always-ethereal Vanessa Redgrave), the mother of young Paul. The lives of the two families become further entwined when Ruth Wilcox dies and leaves her lovely country home, "Howard's End," to her good friend, Margaret. Of course, this doesn't sit at all well with the Wilcoxes, who are truly shocked, and Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins), Ruth's husband, tries to cover up Ruth's final wishes and keep Margaret away from "Howard's End.Read more ›
Based on E. M. Forster's 1911 novel, this film is an insightful study of the social classes, their interaction (and lack thereof), and the highly structured and restrained manners that ruled society. Thompson won the Best Actress Oscar for her role, but it really is an ensemble piece and the entire cast is outstanding. The period is carefully recreated using wonderful costumes, sets, and cars and the photography is beautiful. The script (also Oscar-nominated) weaves together many seemingly unrelated characters and subplots, all building to an emotional conclusion at Howards End, which is the source of much desire, jealousy, and sorrow.
This is a thought-provoking and moving drama/tragedy. Highly recommended.
The story revolves around the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and their involvement with various characters including a ruthless businessman and his dying wife, and a down-on-his-luck day clerk. Margaret is the sensible sister, caring but careful, while Helen is the idealist, out to save the world, without realising how condescending she can be in attempting to do so. Their brother is almost an afterthought in the story. Margaret is portrayed by Emma Thompson, veteran Shakespearean and British actress; Helen is played by Merchant-Ivory veteran Helena Bonham Carter. Other players include Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins, James Wilby (also in other Merchant-Ivory productions), Samuel West, and the great Vanessa Redgrave. (Look for Prunella Scales, best known as Sybil Fawlty from 'Fawlty Towers' in what might be described as an extended cameo role.)
The characters show some of the principal social class divisions of late Victorian/Edwardian England. The Wilcoxes are a successful business family, unlettered and conservative; the Schlegels are genteel aristocrats with an idealistic bent but slowly declining economic fortunes; the Basts are underprivileged but yearning for more.Read more ›
This film explores the results of reasonably small human actions that are greatly magnified, either through indifference or emotions that take control of common sense and a reasoned response to a given plight. The events and the consequences are exacerbated as the players come from 3 very different strata of London Society. And in this tale the three not only meet, they mix, and the results are dramatic at the very least, and tragic at their worst. The differing groups even join when Emma Thompson marries in to the highest level leaving her sister in the middle, while she, Helena Bonham Carter, insists on crashing every convention when she champions the cause of a poor couple whose plight she blames on her new in-laws. The relationship between the sisters that begins the film as warm and humorous, becomes strained, damaged, and nearly severed before the film's end.
This is one of the richer Merchant and Ivory productions as it is not confined to a few picturesque homes, but is expanded to include vast cityscapes full of period transportation people and their costumes. This is not my favorite film they have done, but is certainly excellent when compared to films in general, and very good for this remarkable team of filmmakers.
Most recent customer reviews
Movie not made for North American market. Returned, no credit to datePublished 3 months ago by ROBERT N DONNELL
Unable to use it. Formatted for Germany. They refunded me, but I still don't have a copy I can use.Published 6 months ago by C.L. Seamus
Criterion does an incredible job at making this Merchant Ivory classic shine!Published 7 months ago by r_duke
This is one of my favorite British movies and was pleased to find it sold in Canada. However, I am in the process of purchasing an all region DVD player so I can watch it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dianne
In spite of its challenging plot 'Howards End' is redolent of a bygone England and the complex interplay between the classes of Edwardian society. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr Elgin M Loney
I think Howards End was a great movie very well done enjoyed every moment of it ,Anthony Hopkins of course was superb.j.a.Published on Aug. 13 2013 by J. M. Arnold
I usually enjoy a non action packed movie as long as the movie has a good story, but this one seems to drag a bit, back and forth quite a bit, don't let a story line or... Read morePublished on June 24 2012 by Frances