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The Remains of the Day (1993)

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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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3,858 ( 799)
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
Peter Halliday ...
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

The picture's director James Ivory said of this film: "I first read The Remains of the Day in 1989 while we were shooting Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) in Kansas City. One of our actors gave me the book. I knew at once that I wanted to make it into a film. The story seemed to me to be a sort of classic triangle, with Stevens the butler (Anthony Hopkins) torn between his loyalty to his dubious master, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and his growing and unsuspected feelings for the housekeeper he has hired, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), feelings which went both unexpressed and unexamined. The milieu was also interesting for me, as well as the period: a great aristocratic establishment centered in an English country house just before and after the Second World War, but seen from the perspective of the staff, and most particularly, the butler. We had touched slightly on this world in Maurice (1987) pre-1914, and I felt it had a lot to offer. I instructed my agent in England to see if the novel's rights were free, but I soon learned they were not. Harold Pinter had optioned the book and was said to be writing a screenplay for Mike Nichols, who would be making the film for Columbia Pictures. I thought, 'Well, that's that', but I followed the progress of the project anyway, things can always happen, this time through my American agent. And things did happen: Mike Nichols withdrew, his replacement Christopher Menaul also in time withdrew, and Columbia, who already knew I was interested, began looking around to see who might be ready to take up The Remains of the Day (1993). This coincided with the first success of Howards End (1992). The result was that Merchant Ivory ended up forming a partnership with Mike Nichols and John Calley to make the film in the fall of 1992. I felt I needed a different script and Ruth Jhabvala [Ruth Prawer Jhabvala] agreed to supply one. Many of our collaborators from Howards End (1992) were also available: Tony Pierce-Roberts would be the cinematographer; Luciana Arrighi came back as production designer, as did the costume designers Jenny Beavan and John Bright. Andrew Marcus was again to be our editor, and Richard Robbins who has [had at the time] done the musical score for every MIP [Merchant Ivory Productions] film but one since 'The Europeans (1979), came on again as composer. That is probably why the film was made so swiftly". See more »

Goofs

As the camera recedes in the final aerial shot departing from the estate, it briefly reveals a modern, silver-colored hatchback automobile backed up to the left end of the building. See more »

Quotes

Stevens: You know what I am doing, Miss Kenton? I am placing my thoughts elsewhere while you chatter away.
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Soundtracks

Roll Along Prairie Moon
Composed by Ted Fio Rito, Albert von Tilzer and Harry MacPherson
Performed by Gracie Fields
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User Reviews

 
If you have a normal 21st century attention span, you won't get it
18 April 2007 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

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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