Encounter of three social classes of England at the beginning of the 20th century : the Victorian capitalists (the Wilcoxes) considering themselves as aristocrats, whose only god is money ; the enlightened bourgeois (the Schlegels), humanistic and philanthropic ; and the workers (the Basts), fighting to survive. The Schlegel sisters' humanism will be torn apart as they try both to softly knock down the Wilcox's prejudices and to help the Basts. Written by
When Charlie and Dolly Wilcox are hiding from Margaret Schlegel in the castle, the scene closes with low angle wide shot of the castle with a view of the sky behind it, revealing an aircraft contrail. There were no aircraft capable of leaving high-altitude contrails in the time period this movie is set in. See more »
Dearest Meg, I'm having a glorious time. I like them all. They are the very happiest, jolliest family that you can imagine. The fun of it is that they think me a noodle, and say so - at least, Mr. Wilcox does. Oh Meg, should we ever learn to talk less.
See more »
The literary period piece is a difficult genre to master, requiring a difficult balancing between restraint and flowing emotion. Few films effectively achieve this as beautifully as Merchant-Ivory's astounding HOWARDS END, making it probably the best period film of the 1990's. The film juxtapositions the intellectual, emotionally unhindered Schlegel sisters against the restrained, imperious Wilcox family, and, for good measure, mixes in the differing attitudes toward class emerging early in the century. What could quite easily have been a dry study in the cultural dynamics of pre-WWI England becomes an enveloping tale, thanks in no small part to the performances by Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Vanessa Redgrave, whose Ruth Wilcox remains enigmatic after every viewing. The emotions ringing through by film's end - not to mention its astoundingly pointed social criticism - give the film its power, a power missing even from Forster's rambling, distant novel. And this story is nestled amongst some of the most beautiful art direction, music, and cinematography to ever grace the screen. The haunting journey to HOWARDS END is one few other recent films can rival.
50 of 54 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?