PG | | Drama, Romance
A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.
Director James Ivory said of this movie: "I first read "The Remains of the Day" in 1989, while we were shooting Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) in Kansas City. One of our actors gave me the book. I knew at once, that I wanted to make it into a film. The story seemed to me to be a sort of classic triangle, with Stevens the butler (Sir Anthony Hopkins) torn between his loyalty to his dubious Master, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and his growing and unsuspected feelings for the housekeeper he has hired, Miss Kenton (Dame Emma Thompson), feelings which went both unexpressed and unexamined. The milieu was also interesting for me, as well as the period: a great aristocratic establishment centered in an English country house just before and after World War II, but seen from the perspective of the staff, and most particularly, the butler. We had touched slightly on this world in Maurice (1987) pre-1914, and I felt it had a lot to offer. I instructed my agent in England to see if the novel's rights were free, but I soon learned they were not. Harold Pinter had optioned the book, and was said to be writing a screenplay for Mike Nichols, who would be making the film for Columbia Pictures. I thought, 'Well, that's that', but I followed the progress of the project anyway, things can always happen, this time through my American agent. And things did happen: Mike Nichols withdrew, his replacement Christopher Menaul also in time withdrew, and Columbia, who already knew I was interested, began looking around to see who might be ready to take up The Remains of the Day (1993). This coincided with the first success of Howards End (1992). The result was that Merchant Ivory ended up forming a partnership with Mike Nichols and John Calley to make the film in the fall of 1992. I felt I needed a different script and Ruth Jhabvala (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala) agreed to supply one. Many of our collaborators from Howards End (1992) were also available: Tony Pierce-Roberts would be the cinematographer; Luciana Arrighi came back as production designer, as did the costume designers Jenny Beavan and John Bright. Andrew Marcus was again to be our editor, and Richard Robbins who has (had at the time) done the musical score for every MIP (Merchant Ivory Productions) film, but one, since The Europeans (1979), came on again as composer. That is probably why the film was made so swiftly."
Sir Geoffrey Wren:
So, gentlemen, you speak of Jews and Gypsies, Negroes, and so on so forth. But one has to regard the racial laws of the Fascists as a sanitary measure much overdue, in my opinion.
Wren's Friend: But imagine trying to enforce such a rule in this country.
Sir Geoffrey Wren: My Lord, my ...
As the camera recedes in the final aerial shot departing from the estate, it briefly reveals a modern, silver-colored hatchback automobile backed up to the left end of the building.
English, French, German
$1,528,982 7 November 1993