A Room with a View
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Merchant Ivory Productions, led by director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant (Howards End), became a household name with A Room with a View, the first of their extraordinary adaptations of E. M. Forster novels. A cherubic nineteen-year-old Helena Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, a young, independent-minded, upper-class Edwardian woman who is trying to sort out her burgeoning romantic feelings, divided between an enigmatic free spirit (Leaving Las Vegas’s Julian Sands) she meets on vacation in Florence and the priggish bookworm (Lincoln’s Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back in the more corseted Surrey. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this gargantuan art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast—including Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Judi Dench (Philomena), Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)—and remains a touchstone of intelligent romantic cinema. DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts, with 2.0 surround Master Audio soundtrack • New interviews with director James Ivory, Pierce-Roberts, costume designer John Bright, and actors Helena Bonham Carter, Simon Callow, and Julian Sands • Segment about Merchant Ivory Productions from a 1985 NBC television program • Trailer • PLUS: An essay by film critic Farran Smith Nehme
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So after watching this blu ray with unblinking wide eyes for nearly two hours, I feel a tremendous sense of relief that this kind of redemptive restoration is still happening, and for home video, too. I used to frequent that sad site, Home Theatre Forum, and would argue correct aspect ratios with the basement-dwellers there. I insisted over and over that A Room with a View was originally released in 1.66 and even that charlatan film "restorer" Robert Harris (whose only real claim to fame was making Lawrence of Arabia too damned long) would argue back that 1.66 was no longer being projected in America, if it ever was, since the seventies or sixties. His pack of sycophantic lickspittles followed suit, groaning that a 1.78 crop was not harmful, that it was only a slight sliver. This disc proves it does indeed matter, for the point of digital restoration, any kind of restoration, is to remain true to the film's original intent. This is a stunning blu ray, with film grain intact, but a fresh image that you can step right into. The film, like the novel it is based on, transports one to another time and place - Italy and England in 1908. Thank you Criterion, for this. I almost forgive you for the debacle of Howards End!
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Worst? The movie ended. PLEASE, filmmakers, do not try to remake this perfect film !!