Room with a View, A (Umbrella Ent) (1985)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Apr-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Gallery-a gallery of stills, cinema lobby-cards and poster art
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 111:58
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Ivory

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Maggie Smith
Helena Bonham Carter
Denholm Elliott
Julian Sands
Simon Callow
Patrick Godfrey
Judi Dench
Fabia Drake
Joan Henley
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Richard Robbins

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     E.M.Forster may have died in 1970 at the age of 91 but he will forever be known for his classic early 20th-century novels set in the English Edwardian era of the late 19th-century/early 20th century. His works have been made into major films such as David Lean's A Passage to India or by director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala who made Maurice, Howard's End and of course this film, A Room with a View. Forster's themes mainly deal with class distinction, individualistic independence against socially or class accepted norms and repressed sexuality.

     A Room with a View has all three of these themes. Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter in her first cinematic feature role at age 19) is an upper-class young woman who is holidaying in Florence, Italy with her chaperone elder cousin, Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith). They stay in a hotel, the Pensione Bertolini, but their room has no view. At dinner, they meet the independent, free-thinking Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) and his handsome son, George (Julian Sands), who offer to swap rooms because they don't need a view. While in Florence, Lucy finds herself both repulsed and attracted to George who steals a kiss in a barley field (in the novel it was a field of violets). Back in England we meet Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) an uptight, but respectable and wealthy man. Lucy assumes she will never see George again until she learns that Cecil has let a nearby villa to the Emersons. The Emersons find that they do not fit in with the local culture and seek to move, but not before George confronts Lucy about her feelings. Lucy chooses to go with her heart, breaking off her engagement with the stiff and uptight Cecil and elopes to Florence with George. This 1985 adaptation of the novel also stars Simon Callow as the Reverend Mr. Beebe and Judi Dench as Eleanor Lavish, a novelist who uses George and Lucy's experience in the barley field as the premise for a new novel.

     The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and it won three: Best Art Direction (Brian Ackland-Snow), Best Costume Design (Jenny Beavan) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). The Merchant-Ivory team would go on and win another three Academy Awards in 1992 for Howard's End, another E.M.Forster adaptation and they would reach the apex of their career with 1993's The Remains of the Day, a film nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning none as it was the year of Schindler's List).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     A Room with a View has been released in Region 4 previously by Roadshow. That release was reviewed on this site here. This new release of the film is by Umbrella Entertainment.

     As with the previous release, the film has been transferred onto DVD in a 1:78:1 aspect ratio, instead of its 1:66:1 cinematic ratio. The 1:78:1 aspect ratio is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions. Sharpness and shadow detail is similar to the previous Region 4 release which was adequate, but unremarkable. Despite the average bitrate of 8.31 m/b per sec on this transfer, the image still looks grainy at times.

     Colour is muted. The image looks stately, in keeping with the Victorian era the film is set in.

     Film artefacts are uncommon, mainly black (positive) artefacts, but there are more instances of macro-blocking where the transfer is not adequate in displaying blacks while aliasing also occurs from time-to-time.

Subtitles are provided in English.

     The RSDL change occurs at 58:25, during a scene change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     For this audio transfer the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack on the previous Region 4 release has been not included.

The main soundtrack is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear yet audio is sometimes not 100% synchronised.

     The music soundtrack is both diegetic (sourced from within the film) and non-diegetic (sourced from outside the film action). It features beautiful versions of Beethoven and Schubert piano works and Puccini arias.

     The surround channel usage is mainly limited to the front speakers, except when weather effects are employed to simulate thunder and rain. The subwoofer was mainly heard during the scenes that featured thunder, which was rare.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The only extra included is a 49 picture gallery of production stills in colour and black-and-white, some poster art and cinema lobby-cards. The audio commentary found on the previous Region 4 DVD by Roadshow with Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, Tony Pierce-Roberts (cinematographer) and actor Simon Callow has not been included on this release.

R4 vs R1

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

     A Room with a View has been released previously in Region 4 by Roadshow in 2005. The average bitrate for the video transfer is 6.73 m/b per sec. Despite a lower bitrate than the 2010 Umbrella release, the transfer is identical with the same flaws. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and an audio commentary featuring Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, Tony Pierce-Roberts (cinematographer) and actor Simon Callow was also included. Although this commentary is rather lacklustre, it's hard to understand why it was dropped from the 2010 Umbrella release.

     The Region 1 United States 2-disc Special Edition includes the audio commentary, Spanish and French Dolby 2.0 tracks, three short interviews - two with Simon Callow, one with Daniel Day-Lewis, a short news report on popularity of the film in the US, a profile of the Merchant/Ivory team and a BBC produced tribute to E.M. Forster.

     The Region 2 United Kingdom release has limited extras; a photo gallery, cast and crew filmographies and the original theatrical trailer. The video transfer for this release is not 16x9 enhanced.

     The Region 1 US Special Edition therefore remains the best available release on DVD.


     This 2010 Umbrella release of A Room with a View offers nothing new in the way of video and audio transfers or extras, in fact it offers less. Ultimately, this is very disappointing because the 2005 Region 4 Roadshow release was not that great either. Sadly, Region 4 fans still await a decent release of Merchant/Ivory films onto DVD/Blu-ray, such as the recent DVD/Blu-ray release of Howard's End by the Criterion Collection in Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE