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Howards End (The Criterion Collection)

188 customer reviews

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(Feb 23, 2010)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The pinnacle of the decades-long collaboration between director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, Howards End is a thought-provoking, luminous vision of E. M. Forster’s cutting 1910 novel about class divisions in Edwardian England. Emma Thompson won an Academy Award for her dynamic portrayal of Margaret Schlegel, a flighty yet compassionate middle-class intellectual whose friendship with the dying wife (Vanessa Redgrave) of rich capitalist Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) commences an intricately woven tale of money, love, and death that encompasses the country’s highest and lowest social echelons. With a brilliant, layered script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (who also won an Oscar) and a roster of gripping performances, Howards End is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness, and one of cinema’s greatest literary adaptations.

Howards End is E.M. Forster's beautifully subtle story of the crisscrossing paths of the privileged and those they disdain--and of a remarkable pair of women who can see beyond class distinctions. Dramatic and tragic, but also surprisingly funny, this James Ivory film focuses on a pair of unmarried sisters (Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar, and Helena Bonham Carter) who befriend a poor young clerk (Sam West) and, without meaning to, ruin his life. Meanwhile, Thompson also makes the acquaintance of a dying neighbor (Vanessa Redgrave), who leaves her a family home in her will--which her husband (Anthony Hopkins) destroys. But, ironically, he meets and falls in love with Thompson, even as their paths once more intersect with the increasingly miserable young clerk. Nuanced acting, gorgeous but muted cinematography, and a beautifully economical script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, which also won an Oscar. --Marshall Fine

Special Features

High-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts

New appreciation of the late Ismail Merchant by director James Ivory

Building: Howards End, a documentary featuring interviews with Ivory, Merchant, Helena Bonham Carter, costume designer Jenny Beavan, and Academy Award–winning production designer Luciana Arrighi

The Design of: Howards End, a detailed look at the costume and production designs for the film, including original sketches

The Wandering Company (1984), a 50-minute documentary about the history of Merchant Ivory Productions

Original 1992 behind-the-scenes featurette

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: An essay by critic Kenneth Turanfilm info

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Joseph Bennett
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Writers: E.M. Forster, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Producers: Ann Wingate, Donald Rosenfeld, Ismail Merchant, Paul Bradley
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 23, 2010
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002XUL6RQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,472 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Howards End (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: DVD
The DVD edition at last does visual justice to this film, one of the great films in English of the last twenty years. James Ivory's painterly eye can be appreciated only in the widescreen format: one can see details here (and hear the rich layers of the soundtrack) that have been absent for years in the VHS version. This film will remind you why you invested in a DVD player and why Merchant-Ivory has become synonymous with the period film. Subtle, inspired, and moving.
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By anna-joelle on November 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is a must-watch for everyone who loves meaningful dramas. The cast is first-rate, the acting brilliant all round. Emma Thompson gave a definitely Oscar-worthy portrayal of a gentlewoman, Margaret Schlegel who is generous, honest, kind but torn between love for her sister, Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and her pompous-and-brute-of-a-husband, Henry Wilcox (played by Anthony Hopkins). At the centre of the story is Howard's End, the beautiful country house/cottage which is a Wilcox's family jewel.
The story reminds me of an Asian belief that if something is meant to be yours (eg. Howard's End rightfully belongs to Margaret as it was actually "willed" to her by the first Mrs Wilcox before she died), then you will get it in the end, no matter what. Everything comes a full circle in the end, that's what it means.
This is one of the best period dramas I've ever watched - it's definitely worth your 2-1/2 hours.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 20, 2001
Format: DVD
The filmmaking duo of Merchant-Ivory score yet again with this wonderful rendition of the E. M. Forster novel. There are many ideas that flow smoothly throughout the film: how fate has a way of catching up; how what is meant to be will be; how one can pay for the consequences of one's acts in totally unimagined ways. But beyond being a thought provoking film, this film also succeeds at every level as just a film. The absolute top acting talent is used for every role, with Emma Thompson deservedly winning the Oscar for hers. Anthony Hopkins renders the British capitalist of this time period flawlessly.

His best line is, "The poor are poor because they are and there you have it." This is said in dismissing the plight of a young man to whom he gave the wrong advice. The opening scenes with Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Thompson showcase two different generations of English acting powerhouses on stage and screen. They are a delight to watch together. The costumes are out of this world and were obviously well researched and made to conform to every detail of the period. The same is done with the settings both in London and the country so that you feel as if you are back in that era yourself.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I believe anyone who has read Forster's, "Howard's End", would agree that this dramatic portrayal is the novel come to life. This brilliant interpretation hits squarely on Forster's central theme, "Only Connect!". The Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala/Robbins collaboration is perfectly cast - all of the characters from the novel are portrayed just as Forster must have envisioned them ninety years ago. Emma Thompson is exquisitely awkward as Margaret Schlegel and Helena Bonham-Carter breaks her ingenue mold with this performance. Anthony Hopkins epitomizes the Ewardian, gentleman mogul in the role of Henry Wilcox while Vanessa Redgrave embodies the role of Ruth, his compliant, soulful wife. Samuel West evokes pity and scorn as the doomed Leonard Bast. I don't know the other actors names but they all performed as if they stepped out of the book. The locations, set decorations and costumes are luscious - while Robbins' haunting and melancholy score follows the drama perfectly. I love this film and it inspired me to read the novel - as well as Forster's five other novels (four of which have been made into marvelous films like this one). When you view "Howard's End" - let yourself get beyond the distance in time and place. These same people and situations are around us even now - I encounter Wilcoxes and Schlegels and Basts every day. However, my cast of characters is not presented by Merchant/Ivory - but I try to be imaginative!
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Travis T. Black on November 16, 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I have loved this movie since I was a teenager. As far as Edwardian-set period films go, this is definitely one of the all time best. That's why it breaks my heart that after months of anticipating owning this film in high definition, the final product that I received is of extremely poor quality to say the least.

Unfortunately, it appears that there is a major issue with either the way this disc is being pressed over at Criterion or the way the HD master is being transferred onto the Blu-ray. The picture on my copy is FILLED with digital noise and snow. It's not just a mild amount that might have proved mildly distracting, but a thick layer of white grain that looks as if I'm peering through a blizzard.

I logged on to amazon earlier today to see if anyone else was having this same issue and sure enough, others are reporting the same problem on varying levels. The issue is definitely not with my player. I have a magnificent Oppo BDP-83 which always delivers the finest High Definition picture possible on my new Samsung LCD. Should I return my defective disc in hopes of receiving a corrected copy or just inquire about receiving a full refund? I'm really not sure, but I am certainly sad that I am being deprived of enjoying one of my favorite films due to a production error from the otherwise phenomenal Criterion collection.
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