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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.

Director:

James Ivory

Writers:

Kazuo Ishiguro (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,337 ( 137)
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Haycraft John Haycraft ... Auctioneer
Christopher Reeve ... Lewis
Anthony Hopkins ... Stevens
Emma Thompson ... Miss Kenton
Caroline Hunt Caroline Hunt ... Landlady
James Fox ... Lord Darlington
Peter Vaughan ... Father
Paula Jacobs Paula Jacobs ... Mrs. Mortimer, the Cook
Ben Chaplin ... Charlie, Head Footman
Steve Dibben ... George, Second Footman
Abigail Hopkins ... Housemaid (as Abigail Harrison)
Patrick Godfrey ... Spencer
Peter Cellier ... Sir Leonard Bax
Peter Halliday ... Canon Tufnell
Hugh Grant ... Cardinal
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

19 November 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lo que queda del día See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$22,954,968
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR (35 mm prints)| SDDS (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The butler's job is just to serve his Master, and to accommodate these great dinners and banquets and house parties", noted Sir Anthony Hopkins, whose chilling portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) had, just prior to the picture, won him a Best Actor Academy Award. Hopkins added: "Hitler's Ambassador comes to Darlington Hall to meet secretly with Prime Minister Chamberlain, and yet Stevens always remains detached. He even says at one point during the film, when Darlington's godson challenges him to comment on what's going on, 'It's none of my business, sir, to know. My business is to serve'." 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

Lewis: You are, all of you, amateurs. And international affairs should never be run by gentlemen amateurs. Do you have any idea of what sort of place the world is becoming all around you? The days when you could just act out of your noble instincts, are over. Europe has become the arena of realpolitik, the politics of reality. If you like: real politics. What you need is not gentlemen politicians, but real ones. You need professionals to run your affairs, or you're headed for disaster!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Something Borrowed (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Touching, tragic tale of one man's duty
4 February 2002 | by bob the mooSee 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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