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Maurice' had a deep emotional impact on me when I first saw it in my early
teens, more than ten years ago. I just saw it again for the first time since
then and I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed, but then I was
definitely not. It still had the same magic.
To me, this is the #1 Merchant-Ivory work. I find this movie astoundingly profound compared to several other of their movies. This movie is above all accomplished by the excellent acting. It tells a pure and convincing story about struggling to be true to oneself in a world of not only prejudice and firm standards but even serious legal sanctions.
I think Maurice' is far more romantic, and sexy, than most heterosexual love stories I have seen. The love and longing of these men seems so real and pure, especially by the fact that they are consistently being told that their inclination is `unspeakable', and their futures and careers are at stake.
It is great to see Hugh Grant in an early role (his first real movie role?) that is so different from the mainstream comedy entertainer he has become. The ending is stunning. I love that the movie ended exactly where it did, although it is a dread to acknowledge that the war would break out soon after. The music score is enthralling. And Alec Scudder is so beautiful that it hurts.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The filmmakers did an incredible job of bringing E.M. Forster's touching
novel to life -- and I suspect that was no easy task because so much of
novel involves the main character's innermost thoughts and feelings.
However, Merchant and Ivory did a beautiful job conveying the loneliness,
fear and desperation of the main character, Maurice Hall.
The movie follows Maurice (James Wilby) down his road of self-discovery; from his embarrassing teen years to Cambridge (where he gets his first exhilarating taste of love) to his post-collegiate years as a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality in a time when homosexuals were mercilessly persecuted.
The movie is also very much about class struggle. Maurice is a gentleman born and bred, with a penchant for snobbery. As he comes to terms with his sexuality, he is forced to deal with differences in class when he realizes he is in love with someone from the serving class.
Readers of the novel will be delighted as much of the wonderful dialogue from the book appears in the film.
The characters were perfectly cast, with Hugh Grant (before he was a mega star) as Clive Durham, the perfect young gentleman from Cambridge (and Maurice's first love), Rupert Graves as the smoldering, lower class hunk who wins Maurice's heart, and Ben Kingsley in a hilarious turn as Maurice's junk-psychologist. James Wilby was spot-on in the title role and he perfectly captures the isolation, sadness and ultimate joy of the conflicted Maurice.
"Maurice" is a touching love story that anyone -- straight or gay -- can enjoy. Romance knows neither of these terms. And, the movie *is* unabashedly romantic and optimistic -- your heart will soar when Maurice finally gives in, casts societal conventions aside and visits his beloved at the boathouse. The hopeful ending is inspiring, though the close-up of Clive at the window at the end of the movie will break your heart.
Beautifully filmed, superbly acted -- a must-see film.
Before I watch Maurice, I almost had no idea of the life of gays. I
used to hold the notion that homosexuality was unacceptable and
disgusting, which was under the influence of some so-called orthodox
thinking. As the time goes by, I gradually realized that you can't make
a judgment before truly knowing something about it. Truth is not told
by "everybody" but explored and medicated by yourself. And the movie
"Maurice" has provided me with a good chance to have a better look at
the true life of gays, to perceive their pure and pristine affections
towards the same sex, to feel their struggle and desperation under
public prejudice and pressure. Though my life is a far cry from that of
Maurice and Clive portrayed in the movie, it seems that I can
understand them perfectly and are quite empathetic with them. I think
that is because what is expressed in the movie is undoubtedly part of
human nature, which can strike a chord in the depth of every human
being's heart. For that reason, one line in the movie stroke me deeply.
When Maurice's psychological doctor advised him to emigrate to
countries such as France and Italy where homosexuality was no longer
criminal, he said:" England has always been disinclined to accept human
A great movie!
I ran into this movie a long, long time ago, watching the TV news one evening back in 1987. I felt as I couldn't miss it as soon as I realized it had been shot in Cambridge, my favorite place in the world, but all my feelings went much beyond that when I saw it. I didn't feel uneasy about homosexuality at all but it was with that movie that I finally realized it was only love, no matter whether it involved a man and a woman, or two men, or two women.... The set is magnificent, the actors at their best (a great Hugh Grant who was so great as to show how Mr E.M.Forster had become tired with Clive...), and I must say that Mr Ivory did a pretty good job with his version of the story, very well adapted. In fact I do believe the book is superior in many moments but, on the other hand, the film is far far superior in many other moments, and you can't really say this all the times. I suggest everybody should watch it and enjoy it, no matter what your sexual preferences are. A masterpiece, indeed!
E. M. Forster's novel, "Maurice," is given a first-rate screen adaptation by
this British production. James Ivory's direction is very cinematic,
conveying the multi-layered story through a series of dramatic scenes, with
just a bit of over-voice narration. Its impact comes through an incremental
effect, reaching moving proportions by the end of the lengthy presentation.
James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves and Helena Bonham Carter are all
excellent, heading a superior cast. Every aspect of the production has been
carefully prepared and executed.
What emerges for me is the tragedy of societal constraint, under the guise of virtue. It is a tightrope to walk for the free-wheeling, independent thinker in this society: he who steps outside the bounds of regularity is subject to scorn and persecution. That the drama's heros do not fall into the mode of so-called "normalcy" leave them open to a lifestyle of tension and risk. Forster beautifully conveys this in the novel, and Ivory transfers it to the screen with great skill.
Certainly "Maurice" is one of the top motion pictures of the 80s. Kudos to all who took part in bringing this poignant novel to the screen.
I remember I saw this movie I was about 17. I'd read the book and fell
in love. It tells a love story between two men and the way they have to
carry it out despite society rules (with some changes it still happens
The general message would be "love conquers all" but is it really so? Are Maurice and Scudder able to live happily ever after? I doubt, and on the beginning of the XXth century it would be even worse.
Despite all, it's lovely to watch the same kind of story we're used to watching in movies that portray society in different times, but now speaking about love between men! Although James Ivory's work is beyond criticism, in my point a view, there were some scenes in the book (the one when they are in London, sitting naked by the fire, for instance) that really should be in the movie.
But it's a tender and romantic approach of of book (only published after E.M. Foster's death) that surely would have pleased it's author.
A gay classic that is situated at the beginning of the twentieth
century. 'Maurice' is the story of Maurice Hall, a student at the
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. There he meets Clive Durham.
Both men develop a strong friendship, which to a certain level, becomes
physical. Clive is gay, but Maurice doesn't want to know anything about
it. Until he admits he also has feelings for persons of the same sex,
even though in intellectual circles homosexuality is 'the love that
dare not speak its name'.
Maurice doesn't know how to behave. Of course he wants to be himself, but society doesn't accept gay people. When he more or less decides to live as a gay man bosom friend Clive changes his mind, frightened by a lawsuit against a gay man. According to Clive the physical friendship between Maurice and Clive must end and from that moment on he wants to experience real love: the love of a woman. The relation between Maurice and Clive gets tense.
Even Maurice tries to get his sexual preference changed by visiting a hypnotist, but the treatment fails. That becomes very clear when Maurice sleeps with Scudder, Clive's under gamekeeper. A passionate love develops between Scudder and Maurice, which makes Clive realize what kind of appearance he has to keep up as a 'converted' gay man.
'Maurice' is based on the novel of the same name written by E.M. Forster. The film is beautiful and made with a feeling for historical notion. The actors playing the leading roles are straight in real life but act the gay roles in a beautiful way. Actually everything in the film is right: image, usage of language, costumes and music.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd like to add my two cents' worth of speculation about what the
impact of class differences would have been on Alec and Maurice as a
Maurice is middle class, not upper class, as Clive's mother makes clear when Maurice offers her his hand at their first meeting. The gaffe is surprising, because even here in America it was a rule that a man never offered his hand to a woman unless she extended hers first. Maurice seems not to know this, for he extends his hand to Clive's mother even though she has not offered it. We see a flash of surprise on her face as she tepidly accepts and shakes his hand. It's funny, and a little painful, if you understand what's happening.
That little bit of business shows us that the gulf between upper class Clive and middle class Maurice is every bit as wide as that between Maurice and working class Alec. If we take it as a matter of fact that Maurice could survive in Clive's world--and we see him doing so--why should we be any less willing to admit that Alec could survive in Maurice's?
We shouldn't. Maurice expects Clive to treat him as an equal just as Alec expects Maurice to treat him as an equal. In fact, Alec demonstrates repeatedly that he IS Maurice's equal, and he even tells Maurice so to his face. After they've "shared" Alec drops some of his deference to Maurice (but not entirely, after all, some of it is just automatic from habit), but he talks to him as an equal: "Ordering me about again--you would!" and "My people wouldn't take to you either, and I wouldn't blame them" and, most effectively, "What does your engagement matter?"
And, too, a lot of what might be thought of as their class difference is perhaps more about the differences in their environments. Alec is a country boy and Maurice is a suburban/urban boy. These are lifestyles that are very different but they are lifestyles that can become familiar, even comfortable, with exposure.
Alec would make the relationship work. Alec has initiative (he climbs in the window and stays), and determination (he goes to London). We need to remember that when we express apprehension about the happy couple's future.
Overall I had the impression that Alec would be a quick study, adapting easily to whatever joint lifestyle he chooses for them. After all, Alec will be the boss of the relationship, as made apparent when he delivers what is probably THE most romantic line in all of gay cinema, "Now we shan't never be parted. It's finished."
I too think they would have emigrated, to Canada or the U.S., or anyplace where the differences in their accents would not be so obvious. They would live someplace where they would be perceived as two Englishmen, rather than as two different kinds of Englishmen.
After a couple years, Alec's eye would wander, and he would stray. But he'd be sure to be home every night with Maurice, snug as bugs in a rug.
Many viewers and critics have criticised the happy ending of this film
as being 'unrealistic' or even 'impossible'. After all an upper class
and working class man could never live as a couple in Edwardian
England? In fact E.M. Forster's inspiration for writing the book
Maurice was a real gay couple, one upper class and the other working
class, who lived together openly in England for about 35 years until
1928. They are buried in the same grave.
Edward Carpenter was a close friend of E.M.Forster, who named Carpenter's working class gay partner, George Merrill, as the inspiration for his novel Maurice. He had visited Carpenter and Merrill at Millthorpe in Derbyshire on several occasions: once, in 1913, Merrill "touched my backside - gently and just above the buttocks. I believe he touched most people's. The sensation was unusual and I still remember it, as I remember the position of a long vanished tooth. He made a profound impression on me and touched a creative spring" That was the origin for the writing of Maurice.
"Maurice" (prononced "Morris") is the film adaption of the book by E.M. Forster and stated to be semi-autobiographical of his life. The book was banned for many years and it wasn't until 1987 that this visually splendid film was released from Merchant-Ivory - ("A Room With A View", "Howard's End"). Set in early 19th century England, it details the coming of age story of Maurice Hall, an upper-class aristocrat who falls in love with fellow classmate Clive Durham (Hugh Grant). Shortly after their romance begins, a fellow student is entrapped and imprisoned for soliciting a military officer. Out of fear of losing his inheritance and political future, Clive decides to get married. Although hurt and feeling very alone, Maurice continues a close platonic relationship with Clive. After attempts to "cure" his homosexuality fail, Maurice finds himself falling in love with Clive's gamekeeper, Scudder. With the threat of exposure and blackmail always a real possibility, they must risk everything to build a future together. Supporting performances by Denholm Elliot, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley help make this a true classic. The lush and elegant score is available as part a 3-disc set of Merchant-Ivory film scores. Guys, if you're looking for a great "first-date" video, it really doesn't get much better than "Maurice"!
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