The Remains of the Day: Collector's Edition (1993)

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Released 10-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director, Producer and Emma Thompson (Actor)
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
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 128:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (87:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Ivory
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Emma Thompson
James Fox
Christopher Reeve
Hugh Grant
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Richard Robbins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Danish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Snubbed by the Academy and BAFTA Awards in 1994, The Remains Of The Day was nominated for eight Oscars and five BAFTAs but failed to win any of them.

    However, the years have been kind to this film. Watching it again reminded me just how good it is. Produced by the Terrific Trio at Merchant Ivory Productions - producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - this film represents the culmination of a trilogy of Merchant Ivory films focusing on aspects of English life and society that have now all but disappeared. A Room With A View and Howard's End were both adaptations of novels by E. M. Forster. The Remains Of The Day is based on a novel by the Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro.

    What, a Japanese born author writing a book about an English lord and his household in the period between the two World Wars? It's not as silly as it sounds. Mr. Ishiguro may have been born in Nagasaki, Japan, but he's been in Britain since he was a child of six in 1960, so it's not exactly as if the subject matter is foreign to him. Interestingly, I found many parallels between the enclosed, hierarchical structure of an Edwardian country house and the samurai culture of feudal Japan. Furthermore, the notions of honour, duty, obedience and servitude are of course far from strangers in either society.

    Mr. James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is the head butler of Darlington Hall, an enormous country house formerly inhabited by an aristocratic and influential Lord Darlington (James Fox). At the start of the film, we find that Mr. Stevens has recently received correspondence from a former housekeeper of the house - formerly Ms. Sally Kenton (Emma Thompson) and now Mrs. Benn. The letter refers to Darlington Hall and all its possessions being auctioned by the surviving heirs of the late Lord in a more austere post-World War II, before being purchased by a wealthy American called Mr. Lewis (Christopher Reeve).

    Most of the film is told in flashback, alternating between "present day reality" and the past glory days in the years before World War II.

    In the present day, James is making a road trip to the West Country to visit Sally - ostensibly to persuade her to resume a role as part of the new household staff. We suspect, however, that he is looking for a reconciliation with a woman that he has strong feelings for but has never been able to admit, even to himself. Along the way, he meets people who remind him that the general opinion of the late Lord Darlington is not good - most thought he was at worst a Nazi sympathiser and traitor, and at best a misguided, naive fool who was manipulated by the Germans.

    In contrast, the flashbacks to the past show Lord Darlington and the house in their prime, when he was influential and highly regarded to the point where famous and important people from all over the world would pay him a visit; world history seemed to be in the making.

    And through all of it, during good times and bad, Mr. Stevens was the head butler managing a large household staff. We get scenes of Ms. Kenton joining the household, Mr. Stevens hiring his own father (Peter Vaughan) as an under-butler, and problems with new hired help. James and Sally start off being frustrated with each other, which then turns to trust, admiration and perhaps affection, but Mr. Stevens is unable to admit or even recognise his personal feelings - he has long trained himself to be the "perfect" servant whose actions mirror every single desire and command of his master, and hence he cannot afford to have thoughts of his own.

    Two momentous occasions at the house coincide with deeply personal events for Mr. Stevens - the international "conference" over Germany which coincides with his father dying of a stroke, and the Prime Minister of Britain and the Ambassador of Germany arriving at the house just when the frustated Ms. Kenton decides to leave Mr. Stevens and the house to marry Mr. Benn (Tim Pigott-Smith). In both those occasions, Mr. Stevens chooses to submerge his personal feelings to attend to the wishes of his master.

    The end of the film is perfectly fitting. We sense that there is an awakening of sorts within Mr. Stevens, but too much time has elapsed to rectify mistakes in the remains of the day.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a fine widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer from Columbia Tristar, presented in the intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1, based on an anamorphic 35mm film print shot using Super 35.

    The film seems to have been contrast-enhanced and colour-corrected, for most scenes look fairly "punchy" with vibrant, strong colours. However, shadow detail seems to have been lost in the process, resulting in a lot of dark, featureless blacks.

    Watching on my DVD-RP82 revealed minor instances of pixelization, haloing from edge enhancement, and minor Gibb's effect ringing. However, the picture quality on a home theatre PC was more than adequate.

    There are many subtitle tracks on this disc: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Danish, French Audio Commentary, German Audio Commentary, Italian Audio Commentary, Spanish Audio Commentary, and Dutch Audio Commentary. I turned on the English subtitle track briefly just to verify that it was there. The accuracy of dialogue transcription seemed about average.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 20 at 87:15. Although there is a noticeable pause, it occurs at a quiet moment in between scenes.

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

Audio

    There are several audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is excellent.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, and the overall soundtrack is atmospheric with a full-bodied sound. There are no issues with audio synchronization.

    The background music by Richard Robbins is excellent and suits the film really well, with an overall dreamy romantic lush sound but with a strong under-current of unreleased tension.

    The original soundtrack was encoded in Dolby Stereo, so the 5.1 track appears to have been remixed and remastered. The surround channels are primarily used for background music ambience and various atmospheric effects. The subwoofer does not appear to be utilized.

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

Extras

    This is a disc that's worthy of being called Special Edition, containing three featurettes, deleted scenes, an audio commentary track and a theatrical trailer. Note that there are actually two menus of extras, which is not entirely obvious when you select the "Special Features" section of the disc.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced. In addition, the main menus are animated and include menu transitions and background audio.

Audio Commentary-Director, Producer and Emma Thompson (Actor)

    This is a commentary track featuring Emma Thompson ("Miss Kenton"), producer Ismail Merchant, and director James Ivory. The trio are obviously recorded together whilst watching the film. They sound pretty chummy and in good humour. There are a number of really interesting anecdotes about the making of the film, and some comparisons to the book and earlier versions of the script, but in general the commentary pointed out plot or screen details that seemed fairly obvious to me. There are some moments of silence where the underlying film soundtrack can be heard.

Featurette - Documentary: The Filmmakers Journey (29:53)

    This is a retrospective documentary, produced in 2001, featuring interviews with cast & crew, behind the scenes footage, production photographs, and excerpts from the film. It is presented in full frame (film excerpts are approximately 1.95:1 letterboxed) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Interviews include:

    The documentary talks about the genesis of the film, the casting, the storyline, locations, costumes, the music, and the critical response to the film.

Featurette - Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honor: England's Fatal Flaw (14:52)

    This is another retrospective documentary, produced at the same time as the previous one, featuring interviews with similar cast & crew members, as well as behind the scenes footage, historical footage, and excerpts from the film. It is also presented in full frame (film excerpts are approximately 1.95:1 letterboxed) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Interviews include:

    The documentary focuses on the historical and political context of the book and the film, and include historical footage.

Featurette-Making Of-HBO (28:38)

    This is a promotional documentary made at the time of the film's theatrical release entitled Love & Loyalty: The Making Of The Remains Of The Day. It features interviews with cast & crew members, behind the scenes footage, production photographs, and excerpts from the film. It is presented in full frame (film excerpts are presented open matte) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Interviews include:

    The documentary focuses on aspects of the film, and includes discussion of other Merchant Ivory films and the books of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

Deleted Scenes - 6 +/- commentary

    This is a set of deleted scenes, presented with or without director's commentary, in full frame/open matte (the microphone can occasionally be seen at the top of the frame) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The scenes include:

    The director's commentary track is useful in explaining the context of the scenes and why they were deleted.

Filmographies - Cast & Crew

    This is a set of stills providing filmographies for:

Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

    This is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s).

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Both versions appear similar apart from foreign language content.

Summary

    The Remains Of The Day is a superb Merchant Ivory film about an English butler who sacrifices his personal and emotional life in the duty of serving his master, based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

    The video transfer is excellent, though perhaps just a bit soft.

    The audio transfer is also excellent.

    There are lots of extras on this Special Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
woo hoo! - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Contrast "enhancement" was a big mistake -