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The Remains of the Day (1993)

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A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.

Director:

James Ivory

Writers:

Kazuo Ishiguro (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,047 ( 568)
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Haycraft John Haycraft ... Auctioneer
Christopher Reeve ... Lewis
Anthony Hopkins ... Stevens
Emma Thompson ... Miss Kenton
Caroline Hunt Caroline Hunt ... Landlady
James Fox ... Lord Darlington
Peter Vaughan ... Father
Paula Jacobs Paula Jacobs ... Mrs. Mortimer, the Cook
Ben Chaplin ... Charlie, Head Footman
Steve Dibben ... George, Second Footman
Abigail Hopkins ... Housemaid (as Abigail Harrison)
Patrick Godfrey ... Spencer
Peter Cellier ... Sir Leonard Bax
Peter Halliday ... Canon Tufnell
Hugh Grant ... Cardinal
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Storyline

Rule bound head butler Stevens' (Sir Anthony Hopkins') world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of housekeeper Miss Kenton (Dame Emma Thompson), who falls in love with him in pre-World War II Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for themes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

19 November 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Remains of the Day See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,528,982, 7 November 1993

Gross USA:

$23,237,911

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,237,911
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR (35 mm prints)| SDDS (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It was while shooting Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) in Kansas City, that Remak Ramsay, who was reading "The Remains of the Day" (1989) novel, while playing a part in the movie, gave the book to Director James Ivory to read, thinking that its subject and setting might intrigue Ivory. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film, the now elderly Stevens sets down a rack of toast on the breakfast table for Congressman Lewis, who is now the master of the house. Lewis is seen reading the paper and talking with Stevens. He doesn't take a slice of toast from the rack. The camera cuts to Stevens, who is bringing a cup of tea to the table. When he arrives at the table, Lewis is halfway into eating a now buttered slice of toast. See more »

Quotes

James Stevens: If two members of staff have to fall in love and decide to get married, there's nothing one can say. But what I do find a major irritation are those persons who are simply going from post to post looking for romance.
See more »


Soundtracks

Roll Along Prairie Moon
Composed by Ted Fio Rito, Albert von Tilzer and Harry MacPherson
Performed by Gracie Fields
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User Reviews

 
The best story of unrequited love in cinema history.
30 July 2003 | by sdillon-1See all my reviews

This is, in my opinion, the finest film in the Merchant Ivory canon. And to hail it as such is to grossly undersell it. It is not only that but also the best story of unrequited love in cinema history, and a masterpiece of understated emotion. It also boasts some of the finest performances ever put on film, most notably from the peerless Anthony Hopkins.

Then again, understatement is the key to this film. Writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Director James Ivory adapt Kazuo Ishiguro's poignant novel with such delicacy that it gets under ones skin in a deeply profound way difficult to express in a few words.

The plot opens in the 1950's as meticulous and emotionally repressed butler Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) reviews a lifetime of service in Darlington Hall. The story flashes back to the 1930's where Stevens formed a close friendship with housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). This relationship grew slowly over several years and ultimately the pair developed romantic feelings for one another, although neither admitted it. Whilst all this was happening, Steven's employer Lord Darlington (Edward Fox) gradually became a misguided Nazi sympathiser in pre-war Europe. Unfortunately, loyalty to his master caused Stevens to reject the delicate advances of Miss Kenton. History took its inevitable course, and Darlington's involvement in appeasement contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Now Stevens realises he made a mistake and wants to make amends.

To describe Anthony Hopkins as brilliant is completely redundant. His turn here goes way beyond mere acting, and it was criminal he was denied the Oscar at the 1994 Academy awards. Stevens absurdly repressed personality gently takes the audience from laughter to tears in the most emotionally devastating finale I have ever seen. Hopkin's mesmerising performance is matched by a career-best turn from Emma Thompson. The supporting cast is uniformly superb, including a pre-Four Weddings Hugh Grant and Christopher Reeve in one of his last roles before the accident that paralysed him.

Needless to say, the cinematography, music, editing and art direction are immaculate. The understated beauty of the English countryside that was so important to the book translates brilliantly to film here.

This is a lovely, melancholic film, which effortlessly embraces complex themes such as misguided loyalty, dignity, pride, wasted lives, and unrequited love. It would be all too much to bear if it weren't for the film's genuine good-humoured understanding of English culture (all the more remarkable for having been initially penned by a Japanese author). In fact, humour is an important element in the film. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, which make the tragic part of the story all the more real and poignant. All in all, The Remains of the Day is a milestone film – an unforgettable tragedy of a man who pays the terrible price of denying his own feelings.


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