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 (Sir 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 World War II, 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
Look at it! Is that or is it not the wrong chinaman?
Miss Kenton, I'm very busy. I am surprised that you have nothing better to do than stand around all day...
Mr. Stevens, look at that chinaman and tell me the truth!
Miss Kenton, I would ask you to keep your voice down. What would the other servants think to hear us shouting at the top of our voices about... chinamen?
And I would ask you, Mr. Stevens, to turn around and look at the chinaman.