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Benjamin James
Benjamin James

A Room With A View Extra Quality



A Room with a View is a 1985 British romance film directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. It is written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who adapted E. M. Forster's 1908 novel A Room with a View. Set in England and Italy, it is about a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) in the final throes of the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian England, and her developing love for a free-spirited young man, George Emerson (Julian Sands). Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Simon Callow feature in supporting roles. The film closely follows the novel by use of chapter titles to distinguish thematic segments.




A Room With a View



A Room with a View received universal critical acclaim and was a box-office success. At the 59th Academy Awards, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and a Golden Globe. In 1999, the British Film Institute placed A Room with a View 73rd on its list of the top 100 British films.


In 1907, a young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), and her spinster cousin and chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith), stay at the Pensione Bertolini while on holiday in Florence. They are disappointed their rooms lack a view of the River Arno as promised. At dinner, they meet other English guests: the Reverend Mr Beebe (Simon Callow), two elderly spinster sisters, the Misses Alan (Fabia Drake and Joan Henley), romance author Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), and the freethinking Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) and his quiet, handsome son, George (Julian Sands).


Learning about Charlotte and Lucy's view predicament, Mr. Emerson and George offer to exchange rooms, though Charlotte considers the suggestion indelicate. Mr Beebe mediates, and the switch is made. While touring the Piazza della Signoria the next day, Lucy witnesses a local man being brutally stabbed and killed. She faints but George Emerson appears and comes to her aid. When Lucy has recovered, the two have a brief, but unchaperoned discussion before returning to the pensione.


Upon returning to Surrey in England, Lucy says nothing to her mother about the incident and pretends to forget it. She is soon engaged to Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis), a wealthy and socially prominent man who is cold, snobbish and pretentious. Cecil loves Lucy but he and his mother consider the Honeychurch family their social inferiors, which offends Mrs. Honeychurch. Lucy soon learns that Mr. Emerson is moving into Sir Harry Otway's rental cottage, with George visiting on weekends. Lucy intended for the two Misses Alan to live there and is cross with Cecil upon learning that through a chance meeting with the Emersons in London, Cecil recommended the cottage to them. He proclaims his motive was to annoy Sir Harry, who Cecil considers a snob; he assumes Harry will find the Emersons too common."


George's presence upends Lucy's life, and her suppressed feelings for him surface. Meanwhile, Lucy's brother, Freddy (Rupert Graves), becomes friends with George. Freddy invites George to play tennis at Windy Corner, the Honeychurch home, during which Cecil mockingly reads aloud from Miss Lavish's latest novel set in Italy. Cecil, still reading, is oblivious when George passionately kisses Lucy in the garden. As Cecil continues reading aloud, Lucy recognizes a scene as being identical to her encounter with George in Fiesole. She confronts Charlotte, who admits to telling Miss Lavish about the kiss in the poppy field, who then used it in her story. Lucy orders George to leave Windy Corner and never return. He says that Cecil sees her only as a possession and will never love her for herself, as he would. Lucy seems unmoved, but soon after ends her engagement to Cecil, saying they are incompatible. To escape the ensuing fallout, she arranges to travel to Greece with the Misses Alan. George, unable to be around Lucy, arranges for his father to move to London, unaware Lucy is no longer engaged. When Lucy stops by Mr. Beebe's home to fetch Charlotte, she is confronted by Mr. Emerson, who happens to be there. She finally realizes and admits her true feelings for George. At the end, newlyweds George and Lucy honeymoon at the Italian pensione where they met, in the room with a view, overlooking Florence's Duomo.


Forster's early draft of the novel, entitled Lucy, has the triangle of Lucy, Miss Bartlett, and a shadowy George Emerson already in place, as well as the two Miss Alans and the novelist, Miss Lavish. In these first notes, the story begins in the Pensione Bertolini in Florence but breaks off before the return to England, and its various sketchy episodes bear little resemblance to the finished work. In 1903, Forster went on with his novel, and now Cecil Vyse makes his appearance, as well as old Mr. Emerson, Reverend Beebe, and Lucy's mother and brother Freddy. The action, commencing in Italy as before, is carried forward to England, but the plot was unresolved when Forster laid the novel away for the second time. In this version, the story ended with George riding his bicycle into a tree during a storm.These early drafts have been published by Edward Arnold in The Lucy Novels (1977), edited by Oliver Stallybrass. In it, one may follow to some extent the development of the novel. He liked, too, the character of Lucy Honeychurch and, somewhat dyspeptically comparing her with the women in Howards End (1910), counting her as one of his few successes. The character of Lucy anticipates that of Adela Quested in A Passage To India, published in 1924. Both women seem to be fighting their own best natures, to be hysterically turning away from any kind of honest introspection, and at a crucial point in the story, to be embarking on an enterprise which will plunge them and everyone who loves them into misery.The Lucy Novels also contain some bits that were used in the film, not in the published novel. The scene between Lucy and the guide in Santa Croce, for instance, with its mishmash of Italian and pidgin English, is from Forster's notebook. It is revealing, too, about the originals of some of the characters: George Emerson began as Forster's Cambridge friend, Hugh Meredith, Forster designating the character by the initials H.O.M. in his notes. As a type, Miss Lavish was based on Emily Spender, a writer Forster and his mother met in their travels, swinging about in a military cape and affecting thin cigars in the pensione smoking room.


In 1946, 20th Century Fox offered $25.000 for the film rights to A Room with a View, but Forster did not hold cinema in high regard and refused even though the studio was willing to pay him even more.[6] Following Forster's death in 1970, the board of fellows of King's College at Cambridge inherited the rights to his books.[7] However, Donald A Parry, chief executor, turned down all approaches. Ten years later, the film rights for Forster's novels became available when the film enthusiast Professor Bernard Williams became chief executor.[8]The trustees of Forster's estate invited producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory to Cambridge to discuss filming Forster.[8] Merchant and Ivory surprised their hosts with their interest in A Room with a View, which the fellows of King's College considered "A little inconsequential early novel", rather than A Passage to India, which was generally considered to be the writer's best. Merchant and Ivory had no interest in A Passage to India because they had just finished a film featuring the British Raj: Heat and Dust was released in 1983.[citation needed]


The role of Lucy Honeychurch was Helena Bonham Carter's breakthrough as a film actress.[9] She was nineteen at the time and had just finished the art-house film Lady Jane (1986).[10] Ivory gave her the role as he found "she was very quick, very smart, and very beautiful".[9] She fit Forster's description of Lucy as "a young lady with a quantity of dark hair and a very pretty, pale, undeveloped face" .


Daniel Day-Lewis came to the attention of Ivory though his role in the play Another Country as the gay student Guy Bennet.[11] Given the choice of either George Emerson or Cecil Vyse, he took on the more challenging role of Cecil.[12] The role of Freddy Honeychurch, Lucy's brother, went to Rupert Graves, in his film debut.[12] He had had a minor role as one of the schoolboys in the play Another Country.[12] Simon Callow had been Ivory's original choice for the character of Harry Hamilton-Paul, the friend of the Nawab, in the Merchant Ivory film Heat and Dust, but had committed to a play in London's West End.[9] He had created the role of Mozart in the original London stage production of Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus (1979) and made his film debut in a small role in the film adaptation.[9] In A Room with a View, he was cast as the vicar Mr. Beebe.[13]


The supporting cast included veteran performers: Five years earlier, Maggie Smith had worked in another Merchant Ivory film, Quartet.[14] With a prominent theater career, Judi Dench had made her film debut in 1964, but she took the supporting role of Eleanor Lavish. Dench and Ivory had disagreements during the filming of A Room with a View because, among other things, he suggested that she play her character as a Scot.[15]


A Room with a View was shot extensively on location in Florence, where Merchant Ivory had the Piazza della Signoria cleared for filming.[17] Villa di Maiano in Fiesole served as the Pensione Bertolini.[18] From its decoration of the walls they asked a painter to do a series of decorative artworks called grotesques that were used for titles between sections of the film, like chapter headings, following chapter titles in Forster's novel.[19]


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