Absolutely the worst movie.
A brilliant film that helped define a genre
Clever, believable, and super fun to watch. It totally has replay value.
When a movie has you begging for it to end not even half way through it's pure crap. We've all seen this movie and this characters millions of times, nothing new in it. Don't waste your time.
Howards End is a story of class in a society evolving as it goes from the Victorian to the Edwardian era.The Schlegel's are a middle class, open minded liberal family who have originated from Germany. The Wilcox are an upper class family, living a comfortable existence.As Henry Cox (Anthony Hopkins) states during the film 'The poor are poor, and one's sorry for them but there it is.'Howards End is a house in the fringe of the country owned by Mrs Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave) left to her by her brother. In ill health and enchanted Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) she scribbled in a piece of paper in pencil that she wanted to have Margaret have the house. Margaret does not know about this as the family burnt the piece of paper after her death.Leonard Bast a lowly clerk comes across Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham Carter) who mistakenly took his umbrella a chain of events that will ultimately lead to a downward spiral for him and his wife.The chain is linked as we go through the film, Helen had a fling with on the the Wilcox's children. Later on it emerges that Mr Wilcox once had a fling with Mrs Bast.We see as the film progresses that the families have different attitude. Leonard Bast might be lower class but he has his pride as he strives for employment. The Schlegel's are in essence Fabians striving for radical reform, votes for women.The Wilcox are paternal, a rather superior and supercilious attitude that pervades with their children that will eventually result in tragic consequences.Eventually Margaret winds up marrying Mr Wilcox, we can never fathom why she wants to marry this older widower who appears to be cold even aloof and has grown up children. In doing so Margaret feels the need to social climb and maintain a facade of not rocking the establishment until Helen ends up in a spot of bother.By then Margaret realises the hypocrisy of the upper classes. Forster wrote about themes of class hypocrisy and hidden passion. Here we also notice in the adapted screenplay who thing come around to bite you on the backside.Early on in the film after The Wilcox move into the apartment opposite them, the Schlegel brother remarks here is the boy I was suppose to thrash. A remark that is thrown back at him in contempt later on by one of the Wilcox children.Of course at the conclusion Howards End, the house itself makes a poetic journey to its rightful owner.The film is long, it can be dense leisurely going on as a picture pretty chocolate box Merchant/Ivory production. It does require a second viewing for you to get the subtleties of the Oscar winning screenplay.
The story opens in Edwardian England, where we meet Margaret and Helen Schlegel (Emma Thompson, Helena Bodham Carter), genteel sisters who are concerned with the lot of the poor. When they meet a lowly clerk who is struggling to get by, they try to mentor him but their advice only makes his situation worse. Meanwhile, Margaret develops a friendship with the Wilcoxes (Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave), a wealthy family whose country home, Howards End, will become an important part of all their lives.Based on E. M. Forster's 1911 novel, this film is an insightful study of the social classes, their interaction (and lack thereof), and the highly structured and restrained manners that ruled society. Thompson won the Best Actress Oscar for her role, but it really is an ensemble piece and the entire cast is outstanding. The period is carefully recreated using wonderful costumes, sets, and cars and the photography is beautiful. The script (also Oscar-nominated) weaves together many seemingly unrelated characters and subplots, all building to an emotional conclusion at Howards End, which is the source of much desire, jealousy, and sorrow.This is a thought-provoking and moving drama/tragedy. Highly recommended.
Quite a disappointment. This movie fit a class that I run into from time to time: the movie that engages me well for the whole movie, such that I don't find out that I hate it until I get to the ending. In this case, it was the kind of ending where the movie doesn't so much end as run out of stuff. That is, there's no real resolution that ties everything together or anything, and you realize that what we've seen is more a series-of-events rather than a cohesive plot. Was it a happy ending? A sad ending? I still can't tell. But it certainly was an unsatisfying ending.If the plot isn't coherent, neither are the characters. I *still* don't understand a lot of the characters' motivations. Why was Wilcox such an obnoxious, stubborn fool about letting Helen stay one night in the house? When Meg has clearly and superbly delineated his hypocrisy, it just bounces right off of him. He doesn't concede the point, he doesn't deny the point, he just ignores it. That was just a weird way to behave. If nothing else, it paints the guy as a complete, irredeemable jerk. So the movie seems to strike a triumphant note when Meg finally tells him she's leaving him. That was the kind of wonderful moment which made it seem like the film was going somewhere. But then, *poof*, nothing comes of it, she's still with him and kissing him at the end. Huh? She ultimately makes no sense as a character, one can never see what she sees in this jerk, or why she constantly kowtows to him, despite being a strong enough character with everybody else. Then there's the brother, Tippy or Flippy or whatever his name was. Why? Why is he in this movie? He does NOTHING. He adds nothing, does nothing, says almost nothing, he's more a piece of the set than a character. Someone else here also pointed that out. And speaking of props-rather-than-characters, there was Jackie. The first thing I noticed at the end of the film was that she was given NO resolution. So ultimately, she, as a character, went nowhere and amounted to nothing. You could have entirely omitted her and nothing would've been any different. It was also pointed out, very appropriately, the way that Helen's character is slapdash. There's the whole big deal about her stealing umbrellas, then that utterly disappears. Comes off as pretty contrived. And what about the whole original thing with her having the aborted affair with young Wilcox? That too went nowhere and amounted to nothing.And, by the way, I waited half the movie for the family-history tidbit about the original Mrs. Wilcox having a brother or uncle or someone who asked for that other woman's hand and was rejected-- I waited half the movie for that to become relevant, trying to figure out who that might've been and how they tied in. Answer? Went nowhere, meant nothing, just another irrelevant detail. This movie was a complete soup of irrelevant details.Yes, the performances were fine (given what the actors had to work with). Yes, the sets and costumes and all provide a fine period recreation. And the music was quite good (but more about that in a minute). For those three things I gave it three stars instead of one. But the fact is, at the end of the movie I find myself frustrated and cheated. There was no real plot, and, in the end, there wasn't a single character in the movie that I *liked*. I had liked Meg for almost the whole movie, but when she went back with The Jerk at the end, that was just too much for me.And finally, let's talk about the music. I was enraptured when they did the bit with the Beethoven fifth (some of the finest, most moving music ever written). Especially when the naked piano version from the lecture hall morphs into the full, powerful orchestral score. I was excited, thinking, "Excellent! They're using the wonderful 3rd movement as a leitmotif! This'll be great!" But no, as with all else in this film, it means nothing and goes nowhere. It comes back exactly once, and only as a concrete flashback, when Umbrella Man is dreaming of the day he met Helen. What did it signify? Nothing. Just the concrete event.In short, this film did a great deal to raise my expectations and hopes and extremely little to actually fulfill them.
I'm sure that even in 1910 when Kaiser Wilhelm still had a few fans who remembered he was the grandson of Queen Victoria and not ruler of the soon to be hated foe of World War I, E.M. Forster must have come in for a few critic's slings in having some of his protagonists of Howards End have a German surname. Even that early time there were many who saw Germany as a potential foe.These two Schlegel sisters played by Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter befriend the Wilcoxes, a family of newly rich plutocrats headed by Anthony Hopkins who seem to be a version of Lillian Hellman's the Hubbards lite. Their mother is the class of the family and she's played by Vanessa Redgrave who is in poor health.While Bonham-Carter is rejected by Hopkins's son James Wilby as a suitable wife for marriage, Vanessa befriends Thompson finding her to be a kindred intellectual spirit in a house full of moneygrubbers. In fact before she dies she writes an unsigned note asking that a cottage that's in her family's name called Howards End be given to the Schlegel sisters. When Hopkins and the rest of the family find the note after she's dead it gets torn up and burned. Unsigned it has no probative value in any event.But as fate would have it Thompson and Hopkins get into a relationship and they soon marry and she tries to polish some of the rough edges off him. Especially in regard to snobbery. Hopkins is the kind of man who wants no reminders of where he came from. Particularly with another of the Schlegel sisters friends, a young clerk named Leonard Bast played by Samuel West trying to make his way in the world as the Wilcoxes have.Emma Thompson won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Howards End that year and the film also won Oscars for Art&Set Direction and for adapted screenplay. Though Thompson won the Oscar, my absolute favorite in this film is Susie Lindeman as Mrs. Dolly Bast. She's so incredibly common and obviously holding him back, you can't blame West for eventually getting involved with Bonham-Carter which leads to tragedy.The team of Ismail Merchant producer and James Ivory director succeed again at bringing the look and manners of Edwardian England as seen by E.M. Forster to life. Who says they don't make literate films any more, whoever says that have them see Howards End.