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A Room With a View (1985)

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"He's the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn't know what a woman is. He wants you as 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. He doesn't love you."

Twenty years ago, a “A Room With a View” was released. This adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel of 1908 would go on to win three Oscars and numerous other awards. A pleasant morning spent with the film makes it easy to understand why.

Miss Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), on holiday in Italy with her older cousin and chaperon, Miss Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith), encounters two other English tourists, a Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliot) and his son George (Julian Sands). When Miss Honeychurch complains that her room lacks a view, the Messrs. Emerson offer to switch rooms to afford the ladies a view. George is taken with the fetching Miss Honeychurch and pursues her despite being a man of few words, only to be rebuffed by her, under the influence of her chaperon. When back in England, Miss Honeychurch accepts the proposal of a dreadfully boring and shallow Cecil Vyse, only to counter the Emersons again. Finally unable to stand the thought of Cecil marrying a woman he cannot know, much less love, George presses. Lucy later tells the elder Mr. Emerson that George has behaved abominably, but he mildly reproves her, noting that he behaved “Not abominably. He only tried when he should not have tried.” The old man patiently shows her what she has done, whereupon she returns to her senses.

I love this film's dialogue, a critical component in any film. Full of wit, we're not only entertained by skillful use of language, but we gain insight into the characters, making them deeper and livelier than they might otherwise be presented. A favorite exchange is when the Reverend Mr. Eager tells a tour group, “Remember the facts about this church of Santa Croce; how it was built by faith in the full fervour of medievalism.” In response, Mr. Emerson remarks, “Built by faith indeed! That simply means the workers weren't paid properly.”

For all its wit, the truth is that we weren't ten seconds into the film before I was predisposed to approve: it opened with some of the most fantastic and beautiful music ever composed, Puccini's “O Mio Babbino Caro.” That wasn't the end of wonderful music; the sounds of Puccini could be heard throughout the production.

Although originally an independent art-house film, it's no wonder that it went on to get significant mainstream attention.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-10-10 09:34 AM
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