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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Howards End (Blu-ray) (1992)

Howards End (Blu-ray) (1992)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Critics Wade Major and Lael Lowenstein
Featurette-Conversation James Ivory and Laurence Kardish (26:43)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-James Ivory and Vanessa Redgrave at Cannes (8:08)
Featurette-On-Stage Q&A with James Ivory (27:17)
Featurette-Behind the Scenes (4:32)
Featurette-Building Howards End (42:37)
Featurette-The Design of Howards End (8:58)
Featurette-James Ivory Remembers Ismail Merchant (12:11)
Trailer-Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05)
Trailer-2016 Re-Release Trailer (2:26)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 142:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Ivory
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Anthony Hopkins
Vanessa Redgrave
Helena Bonham Carter
Emma Thompson
James Wilby
Samuel West
Adrian Ross Magenty
Nicola Duffett
Jemma Redgrave
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Richard Robbins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.50:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† Howards End is a Merchant Ivory production based on the book of the same name by E. M. Forster published in 1910. Set in Edwardian England it is a story about the class structure, inheritance and the interconnections between three different families. The Wilcox family, father Henry (Anthony Hopkins), mother Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave) and adult children Charles (James Wilby), Evie (Jemma Redgrave) and Paul (Joseph Bennett) are a wealthy, genteel business family with rubber plantations in Africa. The Schlegels, Margaret (Emma Thompson), Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Tibby (Adrian Ross Magenty), watched over by their Aunt Juley (Prunella Scales), are middle class, well off and somewhat bohemian. In contrast, Leonard Bast (Samuel West), working class and poor but with dreams and aspirations, lives with his rather common wife Jacky (Nicola Duffett) in a cheap garret beside the railway line. Over the course of a couple of years, through misunderstandings and miscommunications, love, birth, infidelity and death, the families will interact with each other and the fate of them all will be linked in some way to the house in the country owned and loved by Ruth Wilcox, the house in which she was born, Howards End.

†††† Although they had been making films together since the mid-1960s, from the mid-1980s the partnership of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala hit a purple patch of prestige, Oscar friendly period films such as A Room with a View (1985), Howards End (1992) and The Remains of the Day (1993) which between them garnered 25 Oscar nominations. Of the six Oscars the films won, it is significant that none were for best film or best direction; two were for the screenplays of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, two were for art / set direction and one for costume design, the other was for Emma Thompson as best actress in Howards End. James Ivory never won a best director Oscar, although he did win a best adapted screenplay Oscar for Call Me By Your Name (2017), at 89 the oldest person ever to win a competitive Oscar.

†††† The winning categories above point to what these Merchant Ivory films have in common; they are opulent period films, with luscious sets, dealing with the English class system. Howards End fits squarely into this category as the set design, especially the rooms where much of the film takes place, are stunningly detailed and realised, with pictures, furniture and bric-a-brac filling every space. When the film ventures outdoors the Edwardian London buildings, cars and horse drawn carriages look wonderful, the steam trains magical and the house and grounds of Howards End idyllic. The production design is so marvellous it is clear that a major part of the filmís reported $8 million budget is right up there on the screen.

†††† Oscar winner Emma Thompson is excellent and she is matched by some great performances from Vanessa Redgrave (who was nominated for best supporting actress), Helena Bonham Carter and Anthony Hopkins, who gives a heart and soul to the rather callous and unsympathetic Henry Wilcox, a man of his class and upbringing. Hopkins had won an Oscar a year earlier for The Silence of the Lambs but surprisingly he was not nominated for an acting Oscar for Howards End despite, to my mind, dominating the picture when he is on the screen. He was nominated the following year for The Remains of the Day, but lost out to Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.

†††† The plot is not the best part of Howards End; there are just too many contrivances in the interconnections between the families although the scripting of the characters themselves and the acting is impressive. And the visuals, be it the countryside, Edwardian London, the costumes or the rooms the characters inhabit are magnificent and carry one along effortlessly during the filmís running time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††††Howards End is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.50:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. This ratio has generated some discussion; the previous Criterion release was 2.35:1, which is the aspect ratio given in the IMDb. However, in interviews director James Ivory speaks about the restoration and as this release is from a 4K restoration of the film that was supervised by Ivory and cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts one may accept that this is their preferred ratio for the film.

†††† This Cohen Film Collection restoration is superb. The detail of the interior sets is stunning; despite the general darkness of Edwardian rooms, the furniture, artefacts, paintings and bric-a-brac are clear to see, in many scenes the filtered light is used to wonderful effect by cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts, who deserved his Oscar nomination. The colour scheme in London and on most of the costumes is sober and based on tones of grey, dark blue or cream, the sombre suits and hats of the men, the dresses of the ladies which sometimes take creamy tones. There are no vibrant colours in London. In contrast, the colours of the countryside around Howards End are natural and beautiful, the field of blue bells, the green leaves or the paddock of grass. Blacks and shadow detail are excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent.

†††† I did not notice any marks, artefacts or blemishes.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a largish, clear white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio choices are English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English LPCM 2.0 stereo and an English commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0. The film was released in theatres with a stereo audio.

†††† Howards End is a film of manners, not an action film. There is a lot of talk, which, given the superb cast, is clear and easy to understand. Effects, such as the horsesí hooves on the London cobbles, the train engine or the car engines, are crisp and the rears and surrounds are used for ambient sound such as the crowd noise at the train station, the wind, the rustle of the leaves, rain and thunder. The original score is by Richard Robbins, who was also nominated for an Oscar. At times it is plaintive and effective, based on a piano, but on other occasions the orchestra fanfare comes over loud and rather dramatic; in their audio commentary the critics suggest that this was to tell the audience of the tensions and passions running under the surface but I found it intrusive. But that may be a matter of taste.

†††† There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††††The audio commentary is on disc 1. All the other extras are on a separate Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

†††† Critics Wade Major and Lael Lowenstein provide a lot of information about the Merchant Ivory style, the cast and their careers, the art direction and costumes, Ismail Merchant, motifs and symbolism, the photography style, changes between the screenplay and the book, Forster, the music. There are pauses as they watch the film but overall this is a decent commentary helping to explain aspects of the film.

A Conversation Between James Ivory and Laurence Kardish (26:43)

†††† Made in 2016, this is entitled Returning to Howards End; Laurence Kardish, former Senior Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art, chats to Ivory about the changes made to the book for the film, how they acquired the rights to Fosterís book, screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, adapting the book, the casting, music, Foster, 70 mm prints and the restoration. This is a relaxed, genuine conversation.

Interview with James Ivory and Vanessa Redgrave at Cannes (8:08)

†††† The restored version of Howards End was shown in the Classics Selection at Cannes in 2016. James Ivory and Vanessa Redgrave are interviewed, brusquely and superficially, in Cannes by Genie Godula about their memories of their earlier Cannes visits, Ismail Merchant and Redgraveís family.

On-Stage Q&A with James Ivory (27:17)

†††† Author Michael Koresky hosts a Q&A with James Ivory at Lincoln Centre, New York, in 2016 after a screening of Howards End. Ivory answers questions about E. M. Foster, gaining the rights to the novels, the cast, production design and his reaction after watching the film again.

Behind the Scenes (4:32)

†††† A 1992 promotional short with a narrator, film clips, some on-set footage and short comments by Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, James Ivory and Ismail Merchant.

Building Howards End (42:37)

†††† A feature made in 2005 for the Criterion Collection. This is an informal and pleasant perspective on the production of the film with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant sitting together and chatting, sometimes talking over each other and disagreeing but in a friendly way, interspersed with film clips, on-set footage and additional interviews with Helena Bonham Carter, production designer Luciana Arrighi and costume designer Jenny Beavan. They discuss what the film is about, the financing, a scene that was not in the film, the cast, relationships within the book and film, the set design and costumes, finding the house, Ivoryís techniques with actors, the Merchant Ivory style.

The Design of Howards End (8:58)

†††† Also from 2005, production designer Luciana Arrighi talks about the colours and tones of the film and shows a number of her watercolour design sketches while, separately, costume designer Jenny Beavan discusses her research for the filmís costumes and finding suitable fabrics.

James Ivory Remembers Ismail Merchant (12:11)

†††† Made in 2009, James Ivory speaks about meeting Ismail Merchant, their collaborations and the character of his long-time producer and friend.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05)

Re-Release Trailer (2:26)

R4 vs R1

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

†††† This is the same Cohen Media Blu-ray release of Howards End that is available in Region A, with the same extras and technical presentation although that release adds a booklet with writings about the film.

Summary

†††† Howards End is a magnificent, opulent film about an age when class mattered, although the times were changing in Edwardian England. The sets, production values, the cast and acting are all superb making this a quintessential Merchant Ivory production.

†††† This Blu-ray release with a 4K restoration overseen by director James Ivory and cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts looks stunning. With an array of excellent extra features this release is easy to recommend to any fan of Merchant Ivory or the cast, or indeed anyone interested in quality filmmaking.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE