|"To experience the true Italy, one must be a little daring! |
Eschew the Baedeker, dismiss the Cicerone, and venture out alone..."
— Miss Lavish in A Room With A View
As it is considered a classic story I've always been interested in E.M. Forster's A Room With A View. Since I enjoyed watching the 2007 version on Masterpiece Theatre when it came out I decided to watch the 1985 James Ivory directed film which I knew starred a ton of my favorite period drama actors. Reading up on the film beforehand I knew there was at least one completely objectionable scene that I would be skipping. Armed with this knowledge I watched A Room With A View (1985) on Netflix and really enjoyed it!
Scenery: Filmed on location in Italy, London and Kent, England this film has some gorgeous cinematography! Every shot is such a picturesque scene! There's the city of Florence with various historical sites and there's scenes shot in the amazing Tuscan countryside peppered with poppies! Then the last half of the film is shot in the English countryside at a Foxwold House and St. Mary's Church in Chiddingstone, Kent, England.
Music: Opens with a lovely classical theme and the music throughout is just lovely. There also some lovely Italian songs like "O mio babbino caro" that set a wistful mood. Lucy also plays the piano and her brother Freddy does once as well. Part of the plot rests upon Mr. Beebe's thoughts that “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting--both for us and for her.”
Costumes: Designed by Jenny Beaven the Edwardian fashions are truly scrumptious! The hats, boots, parasols, gloves, blouses, skirts and dresses are so lovely. Lucy Honeychurch's styles are particularly sweet and pretty and her puffy hairstyles are actually very nice (if untidy at times). The gentlemen are always very smart in their dandy outfits with colorful ties and vests to make their outfits unique. Overall the costumes are some of the best I've ever seen for the time period they are portraying.
Objectionable Content: There is a murder at the beginning of the film which isn't gory but can be a bit disturbing if you're not prepared for it. There are a couple longer kissing scenes and one awkward (and hilarious really) kissing scene but they aren't too bad. There is also a more intimate kissing scene between married characters at the very end of the film that could have been cleaned up a lot to make the ending nicer. But the HUGE HORRID scene is rather in the middle of the film and features three men swimming/bathing in the buff. Cecil and Lucy are out for a walk when they encounter the three men and thankfully Lucy's reaction is to use her parasol to shade her eyes. I was so glad I had read about this scene beforehand and was able to skip it entirely. It is really very unnecessary and is a big stain on an otherwise lovely film. Maybe ClearPlay or some other family friendly program might edit that scene out for viewers, but I'm not sure.
Characters & Actors:
- Helena Bonham-Carter as Lucy Honeychurch - Lucy is the heroine of the story, a rather quiet and thoughtful young lady with a bit of an artistic temperament. After growing up in an English country village she is ready for adventure in Italy. Helena Bonham-Carter is not my favorite actress but her talents here are at such a young age and she is so talented and pretty. It's easy to like Lucy and cheer for her to find perfect happiness that she deserves.
- Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett - Lucy's chaperon who is a bit like Mrs. Norris in Mansfield Park. She is very particular about how things are done and keeping to propriety and watching how things might look to others. She also has a tendency to make others feel bad for her to get what she wants. Maggie Smith was so young in this role! She plays it perfectly and you hate but feel sorry for Charlotte at the same time.
- Denholm Elliott as Mr. Emerson - He's a straightforward kind of person with no nonsense about him. He is a bit odd at times and has a lot to say but his heart is always in the right place. He wants his son to have a purpose in life and tries to direct him on the right path. Mr. Emerson turned out to be one of my favorite characters in this film and I prefer Mr. Elliott's portrayal to Timothy Spall in the newer adaptation.
- Julian Sands as George Emerson - He's quiet and rather listless at first not finding much to interest him in life. He has a very kind heart though and cares deeply about the things in life that really matter. When he meets Lucy he immediately likes her and you can tell his love for her is genuine because he starts taking an interest in life and becoming all that he could be. He helps Lucy out of a few scrapes and is always gentlemanly. I've seen Julian Sands portray more villains so it was difficult for me to like him at first but he does a great job with the character, especially portraying the feelings of George without using many words.
- Simon Callow as Reverend Mr. Beebe - The new vicar of Lucy's home town who she and Charlotte meet by chance in Italy. I'm not a huge fan of actor Simon Callow and I generally dislike the characters he plays but the insightful Mr. Beebe is a very necessary character because he often interprets the silences and helps Lucy understand herself. Again it was neat to see an older actor being so young with dark hair!
- Judi Dench as Eleanor Lavish - A free thinking romance writer who Lucy and Charlotte meet and befriend in Italy. She is adventurous and clever though essentially a silly tourist. It was neat to see Judi Dench so young and pretty looking and in a stalwart character unlike some of the sillier characters I've seen her portray. It was also great to see her acting with Maggie Smith as the two have been great friends for years since!
- Rosemary Leach as Mrs. Honeychurch - Lucy's mother who features much in the latter part of the movie when Lucy is back at home. She is very kind and wants the best for her children although she doesn't always know how to help them. As a widow she also longs to have Lucy settled and provided for. She has some lovely hairstyles and dresses and is overall a very nice character.
- Rupert Graves as Freddy Honeychurch - Lucy's younger brother who is quite annoying at times! I'm not a huge fan of Rupert Graves but it was fun to see him so young and playing a fun character. Freddy is a troublemaker sometimes but often moves the story along by telling others things they should know but that Lucy won't tell them. He wears some brightly colored hats and jackets.
- Daniel Day-Lewis as Cecil Vyse - Lucy's fiance who is very proper but very stuck up. I disliked him from the first and am not quite sure how Lucy could put up with such a ridiculous fellow. He got better as time went on but he's just so comical and horrid at the same time that it's hard to know whether to laugh or hate him! Kudos to Daniel Day-Lewis for portraying such a difficult character!
My Thoughts: It's an odd story and the characters are so proper and concerned with seemingly trivial things but there is a great deal of heart too that comes from the Emersons. This 1985 version is quite grand and romantic in it's feel which I don't usually like but I got into the feeling of the story more this time than I did when I watched the 2007 film for the first time. I'm anxious now to re-watch that newer version because I know there's no huge inappropriate scene in it and I do like many of the actors in it.
The actors in A Room With A View (1985) were absolutely brilliant, the costumes were gorgeous, the scenery was stunning and the music was lovely. This is a beautiful film and the story is intriguing and has it's sweet moments. I might watch it again in a year or so but it's not one of those films you can just watch over and over again.
My Recommendations: I can only recommend this film to adult viewers who don't mind skipping over the two objectionable scenes. It is a beautiful film but if you're interested in the story I'd either watch it with ClearPlay or watch the 2007 version.
Have you seen A Room With A View (1985)? How about the 2007 version?
Any thoughts about the costumes featured in these photos?