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Howards End - The Merchant Ivory Collection

4.2 out of 5 stars 197 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Feb 15, 2005)
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(Apr 06, 1999)
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(Feb 23, 2010)
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The Criterion Collection
$89.99 $41.96

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Editorial Reviews

Margaret and Helen Schlegel (Oscar® winner Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) are sisters from a well-educated European family: intelligent, free-spirited, cultured, and highly emancipated by the standards of the time. A series of events brings them into a relationship with the Wilcox family: healthy, conservative, conventional, and very English, headed by the prosperous Henry (Anthony Hopkins) and his priggish son, Charles (James Wilby). Both families also come into contact with Leonard Bast (Samuel West) and his wife, a couple near the lowest tier of the rigid class system. Leonard’s desire for cultural and intellectual status attracts the attention of Helen, who must come to terms with her unexpected feelings toward him. At the same time, Margaret must reconcile her independent spirit with her desire for companionship and a comfortable place in Edwardian society; her moral strength is eventually able to resolve the tangle of opposites. First published in 1910, E.M. Forster’s Howards End remains one of the most important English novels of the twentieth century, and Merchant Ivory Productions’ tour-de-force adaptation was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1990s.

Special Features

  • Building Howards End, a new documentary featurette
  • The Design of Howards End, an in-depth look at the costume and production designs for the film, including original design sketches
  • The Wandering Company, a 1984 documentary about the history of Merchant Ivory Productions
  • Original 1992 behind-the-scenes featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Joseph Bennett
  • Directors: Humphrey Dixon, James Ivory
  • Writers: E.M. Forster, John Pym, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Producers: Ann Wingate, Donald Rosenfeld, Ismail Merchant
  • Format: Import, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Merchant Ivory
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Z2NAY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,103 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Howards End - The Merchant Ivory Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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