7.9/10
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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.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Popularity
1,028 ( 739)

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 25 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 pre-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)
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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

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 »

Goofs

In the scene where everyone is listening to the Baroness sing, Mr. Stevens pours Reginald Cardinal the same glass of wine twice in two continuous shots. See more »

Quotes

Miss Kenton: Look at it! Is that or is it not the wrong chinaman?
Stevens: Miss Kenton, I'm very busy. I am surprised that you have nothing better to do than stand around all day...
Miss Kenton: Mr. Stevens, look at that chinaman and tell me the truth!
Stevens: 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?
Miss Kenton: And I would ask you, Mr. Stevens, to turn around and look at the chinaman.
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Connections

Referenced in Downton Abbey: Episode #2.1 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Sei mir gegrüsst
Composed by Franz Schubert
Text by Friedrich Rückert
Sung by Ann Murray
Piano: Graham Johnson
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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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