Room with a View, A (Roadshow) (1985)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-James Ivory (Director)
Gallery-Photo-A Black And White View of 'A Room With A View'
Gallery-Original Cinema Lobby Cards And Poster
|Year Of Production||1985|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||James Ivory|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Helena Bonham Carter
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Whilst the eternally popular novels of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen have undergone numerous translations to the silver screen at the hands of almost countless directors, screenwriters and actors, E.M. Forster, assuming he approves of the filming of his literary creations, owes much to a creative team of just three for reinvigorating interest in his works. Since the great British director David Lean's epic telling of A Passage to India in 1984 - the master's last film - there have been four adaptations of Forster novels, three of them by the trio of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhablava, who won an Academy Award for her work on this, the first of their Forster adaptations, A Room With a View.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the Merchant Ivory team's interpretation of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, but been bored by much of their lauded take on Forster's Howard's End, it was with a sense of uncertainty that I sat down to review this equally acclaimed film, which garnered eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture in 1986. Set in 1907, both in Edwardian England and the less buttoned-up world of romantic Florence, it is the story of a young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch (a nineteen year old Helena Bonham Carter in her first movie role) who, whilst enjoying the greater freedom a trip to the continent provides (though her older cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith) does her best to limit this) falls in love with the dashing, but somewhat unorthodox George Emerson (Julian Sands).
Their love is discovered and before it can develop further Lucy is whisked home to her mother's country estate, where she accepts the proposal of a more 'suitable' man (Daniel Day-Lewis), but one for whom she cannot ever feel the same affection. Gradually Lucy comes to realise, with the help of fate's guiding (and it turns out Italianate) hand, that in matters of love, it is best to follow the heart rather than the head. As with any story of this type and era, as important as the narrative are the witty observations about the manners and mannerisms of those in society, and those trying their best to avoid falling into the trap of observing its sometimes ludicrous rules (Denholm Elliot's portrayal of George Emerson's character is particularly illuminating in this regard).
This is a finely wrought story, with good performances from a British cast of some pedigree, including Judi Dench and Simon Callow in small but important roles. There are times when I felt Helena Bonham Carter's performance was somewhat stilted and wooden, and the story did venture too much at times into drawing room nothingness, but the locations are sumptuous, the dialogue clever and urbane, and the film as a whole eminently civilised.
We have been presented with a video transfer that swings between the very good and the disappointing. It is framed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement which is relatively close to the apparent original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, so much so that nothing appears to have been lost in the reframing. Note: the cover says the transfer is 2.35:1, letterboxed. This is thankfully incorrect.
Levels of sharpness are solid and stable if not excellent. Shadow detail is acceptable although some of the lighting disallows the clearest picture.
There are some occasional instances of grain but these aren't overly distracting, although they do detract from what is some beautifully caught scenery.
The colour palette is quite muted and dominated by rustic colours, with the occasional burst of (normally floral) colour. Skin tones are generally well rendered.
Aliasing and other film to video artefacts were not of major concern, although there are pans that cause some shimmering.
Whilst film artefacts are kept to a relative minimum, there were some occasional moments of juddering that were very disconcerting. The film looks as if it was a little worn when the transfer was done.
We are presented with two English tracks, Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Stereo 2.0 track, both of which are perfectly acceptable, making one wonder why a 5.1 track was needed in this dialogue heavy film.
Audio sync is generally very good, although on occasion I thought some less than absolutely perfect ADR work had been done.
There were no detectable dropouts or audio blemishes to worry about.
Dialogue is well presented, with English accents proving relatively easy to grasp.
The surrounds and subwoofer are, unsurprisingly, given little to do, although in the 5.1 track they do add a little more ambience and depth to an admittedly beautiful selection of classical music, including Beethoven and Schubert piano works and Puccini arias.
|Surround Channel Use|
The sole notable extra is sadly not as notable as one would have liked. It is an audio commentary from director Ivory, producer Merchant, director of photography Tony Pierce-Roberts and Simon Callow, who plays Revered Beebe in the film. They are quite chummy and praise one another, and the cast who aren't present, but there isn't a whole lot of valuable information divulged.
There are two galleries of photographs - one stylishly presented collection of black & white stills, taken during production, and another gallery of advertising posters and cinema lobby cards - as the English call them.
A Special Edition Region 1 release of the film is available, and compared to that we miss out on:
The Region 1 release misses out on:
Now I don't know why these admittedly pitiful extras weren't included when the audio commentary was, but in my humble opinion we aren't missing out on a whole lot. The Region 1 release is the better package however, so, considering the currently favourable exchange rate I would be inclined to go for it over the local product...just. If the Region 4 is cheap however, and I think it will retail for less than $20, you won't be disappointed with it.
A prim and tasteful film that for me lacked the emotional core of The Remains of the Day.
The video quality is reasonable but marred by some ugly juddering.
The audio is fine.
The extras are not particularly interesting.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S100, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Yamaha DVR-S100 (built in)|
|Speakers||Yamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer|