So, I watched Howard's End, directed by James Ivory in 1992. It's based on the E.M. Forster novel of the same name. I was a little skeptical about it when it started - it was long, it sounded sort of boring, and I wasn't feeling up to sitting around for something like this. However, once I relaxed and let myself get lost in the story, I really enjoyed it. The story was great, and it was shot really well.
I'm just going to borrow a summary from IMDB so I can get some rest: "Encounter of three social classes of the England at the beginning of the century: the Victorian capitalists (the Wilcoxes) considering themselves as aristocrats, whose only god is money; the enlightened bourgeois (the Schlegels), humanistic and philanthropist; and the workers (the Basts), fighting to survive. The Schlegel sisters' humanism will be torn apart as they try both to softly knock down the Wilcox's prejudices and to help the Basts."
It sounds maybe a little boring, but it's actually really interesting. I loved watching the characters interact, because they all were so incredibly different. They each had really different views about the world and about what should be done in society that all of their interactions were fascinating to watch. I liked that both of the sisters, Margaret and Helen, were really strong and confident in themselves. They didn't always have the most conventional views for the time period, but they didn't back down from them at all. It was very cool.
There were a lot of interesting little subplots as well, which gave the movie a ton of depth. I won't ramble on about all of them because I'm unfortunately suddenly very nauseous (no fault of the film), but they are there, and they really add a lot to the movie. All of them come into play with the main story - so it's tedious to explain how they all work together, but really easy to understand while you watch the movie.
The film just looks beautiful, too. Lots of lush colors, great costuming and sets. It really just captured this different time and place so well. I read in Ebert's essay that these films didn't really have huge budgets, which was surprising to me considering the caliber of the actors and the quality of the sets and costumes. It feels so expensive! It was really great to watch.
I know that period films can be sort of off-putting to a lot of people, but this one was pretty great. It's streaming on Netflix right now, so it's worth checking out if you're ever in the mood for this sort of thing. Let me know if you watch it!
Have any thoughts about Howard's End? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Howard's End
Buy it on Amazon