Monday, June 01, 2009

A Room with a View

1985, UK, directed by James Ivory

Although much of the film is set in Italy, A Room with a View is very much about visions of England. When one character comments that the countryside near Florence reminds her of Shropshire it's an amusing line but also catches a certain essential truth in the film's view of England as a green and pleasant land, where mundane matters such as personal finance are barely on the horizon. While Forster's book and the film satirize Cecil Vyse for his conceited objections to professional careers, even those characters who allegedly hold down jobs are never shown at work, enjoying lives of great leisure. The film constantly emphasizes the idea of pastoral idyll, most notably in a scene where several of the male characters frolic in a woodland pond - classical tropes abound - with the peasantry, where it appears at all, cast at best as sun-dappled background.

Although it's at times very amusing, especially in the second half - paradoxically the film is far more alive in restrained Edwardian England than among the hot-blooded Latins - the film founders on its own inability to see that it's a participant in what it claims to satirize. It also, of course, launched another wave of English heritage filmmaking, with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant returning several times to Forster (their adaptation of Howard's End is a more rounded vision of England, although it's clumsy in dealing with working class characters).

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States