Remains of the Day (Blu-ray) (1993)

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Released 7-Sep-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Documentary: The Filmmakers Journey
Featurette-Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honor: England's Fatal Flaw
Featurette-Making Of-HBO Featurette: Love And Loyalty
Deleted Scenes-6 +/- commentary
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 134:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Ivory
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Emma Thompson
James Fox
Christopher Reeve
Hugh Grant
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Richard Robbins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Remains of the Day has had an interesting life on the large and small screen. Released in 1993, it was a huge critical success combining the red-hot talents of post Silence of the Lambs Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson together with the directorial talents of James Ivory and the clever script work of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It didn't hurt that the novel upon which the film is based, by Japanese English writer Kazuo Ishiguro, was and is widely regarded as a masterpiece, arguably more moving and inspired than his work, also filmed, Never Let Me Go.

     After all the acclaim and hype the film disappeared somewhat into obscurity, no doubt helped by the fact that despite being nominated for eight Oscars and five BAFTAs it won precisely zero. The film appeared on DVD in a collector’s edition which was reviewed by this site way back in October 2003. It is only now that the film has received a Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray is fine in sound and vision terms, presenting the film in the best possible light, although its extras are simply ported from the original collector’s edition.

     The film deserves to be watched and admired by anyone with a love for the world of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. Far from being a celebration of the era, however, the book and film cast an unsparing eye on duty and devotion.

     Mr Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is a butler in the service of Lord Darlington (James Fox) leading a team of dedicated staff in the magnificent estate of Darlington Hall. In need of a housekeeper he interviews and engages Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). 20 years later, after an exchange of correspondence, Mr Stevens travels in his former employer’s Bentley to see Miss Kenton in order to encourage her to return to Darlington Hall, now owned by an American Mr Lewis (Christopher Reeve). As he journeys to meet her he recalls their life together in the grand house.

     It is a life of absolute devotion to his duty. When his father (Peter Vaughan) returns to Darlington Hall to serve as an Under Butler Mr Stevens Jnr is unable to express his feelings for his father, despite his obvious and accelerating decline. More pointedly, he cannot bring himself to even acknowledge his feelings for Miss Kenton when a simple kind word from him could have secured a lifetime of happiness.

     The film is an almost perfect adaptation of the book which took us into the world of Mr Stevens and allowed us to look behind his seemingly simplistic, worldview to observe the emptiness beyond. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were justly nominated for Oscars for their performances. However the film is a success at almost all levels. For those with a keen eye - Lena Headey makes one of her first performances as a junior maid and fellow Game of Thrones alumni Peter Vaughan is superb as the ageing Mr Stevens senior. How amazing is it that he is at the end of his days in a film from 1993 yet plays a key role in a television show in the last few years.

     The film is profoundly moving in its examination of blind devotion. Mr Stevens remains seriously loyal to Lord Darlington despite the very obvious fact that the Lord has been drawn into supporting the rise of Germany and Adolf Hitler. Further, Mr Stevens is buttoned up so tight that he cannot allow a speck of weakness and love to show through. The final scenes are a masterclass in restrained acting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Remains of the Day comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 transfer which is consistent with the original aspect ratio.

     It was shot on Super 35mm which accounts for the slightly higher than usual grain structure. It has a superbly filmic look. Otherwise the print looks extremely good.

     The colours are subdued but clear. The flesh tones are accurate and the level of detail is superb particularly on the faces and uniforms of the staff. Most importantly there is a clarity and depth to Hopkins’ eyes, which are his only source of emotion.

    There are subtitles in English.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

    Remains of the Day contains a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

     This perfectly conveys the dialogue which can be heard clearly throughout as well as the surround sound. There isn't an awful lot for the surrounds and sub-woofer to do but their presence is welcome throughout.

     The score, written by Richard Robbins, was also nominated for an Oscar but lost out to John Williams for Schindler's List. It is a superb score with a restless main theme. As soon as I saw the film on its first release at the cinema I raced out and bought the CD soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Extras

     There is a selection of extra materials on the Blu-ray release. These are:

     Unfortunately these are identical to the extras on the Collector’s Edition. They have not been in any way cleaned up for the Blu-ray release. In particular, the deleted scenes are replete with scratches and film damage.

     The film deserves some additional and new extras

.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A release also has the Director’s Commentary which was on the Collector’s Edition. So for fans of the film who want to immerse themselves all over again that is the best version. If you have the film already and just want the High Definition look, buy local.

Summary

     Remains of the Day is a superb drama about loyalty and devotion and the way in which these can destroy one's chances of happiness. It is great to see the Blu-ray being released in this region although it would have been good to get some updated or at least improved extra material.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, October 10, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 752BD All Region Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayJVC DLX 700 with 4K e-shift on 140" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC -LX 78K 9.2 Channel
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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