7.9/10
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159 user 58 critic

The Remains of the Day (1993)

A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Haycraft ...
Auctioneer
...
Jack Lewis
...
...
Caroline Hunt ...
Landlady
...
Lord Darlington
...
William Stevens
Paula Jacobs ...
Mrs. Mortimer, the Cook
...
Charlie, Head Footman
...
George, Second Footman
...
Housemaid (as Abigail Harrison)
...
Spencer
Peter Cellier ...
Sir Leonard Bax
...
Canon Tufnell
...
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Storyline

A rule bound head butler's world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper who falls in love with him in post-WWII Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for themes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

19 November 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lo que queda del día  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$22,954,968 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dyrham Park was a natural choice for the exteriors of Darlington Hall. Built around the turn of the eighteenth century for a minister of William III, the honey-colored stone structure stands in the cleft of a valley, with a network of fields and unspoiled scenery stretching clear to the horizon, a long and winding drive providing captivating views through carefully-crafted gaps in the surrounding park. See more »

Goofs

The road markings at the junction outside the George Inn in Norton St Philip are modern; dashed double white lines were not around in the 1950s. See more »

Quotes

James Stevens: If two members of staff have to fall in love and decide to get married, there's nothing one can say. But what I do find a major irritation are those persons who are simply going from post to post looking for romance.
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Soundtracks

Blue Moon
Composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
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User Reviews

Touching, tragic tale of one man's duty
4 February 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Ishiguro's story of duty finds career butler Mr Stevens preparing to meet Miss Kenton, once the head maid in his household. They have not seen each other for 15 years and once had an unspoken love. As he journeys down to meet her he remembers a lifetime spent in quiet, honourable service.

I don't like period pieces. Merchant-Ivory stuff usually feels very false and stifled to me. Here I didn't know what to expect but I was blown away from start to finish. To say the story is about a romance isn't the whole picture, to say it's about British-German politics pre-WW2 is not the full story. In fact the film is about it all - but the focus is Mr Stevens. He serves dinner while his father dies in an upstairs room, he puts his own opinions so far back that he doesn't have any, he is so focused on the proper way to serve that he never finds his own life. To describe in like this makes it sound very dull, and to some people it may be, but trust me - the story is beautifully observed and has so much going on in the background that it'll keep you interested. The main reason it works is a faultless central performance by Hopkins.

Hopkins drives the whole film. His face and his speech reveal more about his inner feelings than anything else. It can be frustrating to see him always put on a brave face and bury his emotions, but once you get his character (a man of quiet honour, dignity and respect - any wonder he seems otherworldly by modern standards) it's fine. He is fantastic - I cannot say it enough. His lot in life is moving, but what is incredibly moving is that he seems content to let his life slide by. The scene where Thompson's Miss Kenton confronts him about the book he is quietly reading is beautiful, truly beautiful - revealing their closeness and the depth of Stevens' heart. Thompson is also excellent in her role but doesn't have as much screen time as Hopkins. Fox, Reeves and Chaplin are all excellent in their roles.

If the film has a weakness it is that it doesn't judge the rich - even the Nazi sympathisers. It almost seems to revere the elite - I know they are not the focus but Merchant-Ivory always seems to be obsessed with how the other half live (or maybe they are part of the other half!). The ending is also a little disappointing because it's quite low-key, but it's very, very touching.

Overall this is excellent - I didn't think it would be that good, but it totally blew me away. Sit down and let this story unfold before you, let the characters develop and ensnare you. I guarantee you will be deeply moved by Hopkins. The rather crude message of `seize the day' is beautifully told in a rich tapestry of one man's life.


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