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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you have a normal 21st century attention span, you won't get it
I am disappointed to see reviewers refer to this movie as anti-war or a story of unrequited love or Lord Darlington as a Nazi or WWII as a nuclear holocaust. I think that perhaps these comments reflect both the lack of an adequate attention span and a lack of a proper knowledge and perspective of the times. "The Remains of the Day" requires both. I found it to be an interesting movie with many facets, each of which could be used as the sole theme of a movie. It is a movie that has great acting, is beautifully filmed in and around one of England's great mansions, and tells a fascinating and complex story as well.
It is true that the movie is about, in part, what many in the audience would believe is a romance that never has a chance because of Mr. Stevens' devotion to and pride in the occupation he has chosen. It is important to recognize that it is the job of his choosing, not one that has been forced upon him. It is tempting to write the job off as no more than servant of the wealthy, but it is actually the equivalent of presidency of a small company. Stevens is in charge of seeing that the large staff serving Darlington gets all of the many jobs in the household done - to perfection - every day of the week. I doubt that the White House has standards that approach those of Lord Darlington. So, each viewer can decide for himself or herself whether there could have ever been a woman in Stevens' life to whom he could give husband-like devotion.
Darlington is not a Nazi sympathizer. He is a man who exhibits the ideals of 20th century Britain: honor, fairness, and full devotion to what is right. He believes, most would say correctly, that the Treaty of Versailles was unduly harsh in its treatment of post-WWI Germany. Unfortunately, he fails to recognize, as many Americans do now, that unfairness in the past cannot be rectified by stupid policies in the present. So, by seeking what he considers fairness for Germany in the 1930's, when Hitler's evil and expansionist aims should have been clearly evident, he and others set the stage for a world-wide conflict that cost 60 million lives, of which the lives lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki constitute less than one-half of one percent.
One of my tests of a movie is how far into it I start looking at my watch. In this case I began looking at my watch not to see how much more I had to sit through: rather, I was hoping to assure myself that there was enough movie left to provide a satisfactory ending. There was: however, I could have enjoyed much more of the talent and story I was seeing.
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