Columbia Pictures | Release Date: November 5, 1993
8.3
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Universal acclaim based on 36 Ratings
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8
SpangleMay 26, 2017
My first Merchant-Ivory production and, well, The Remains of the Day is splendid. Set in the 1950s with flashbacks to the 1930s, The Remains of the Day details the time and events held in Darlington Hall as seen by its longtime head butlerMy first Merchant-Ivory production and, well, The Remains of the Day is splendid. Set in the 1950s with flashbacks to the 1930s, The Remains of the Day details the time and events held in Darlington Hall as seen by its longtime head butler Mr. James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins). From serving Lord Darlington (James Fox), a naive man who got tricked by the Nazis into joining their cause, to serving former American congressman Jack Lewis (Christopher Reeve), Mr. Stevens has been around for a lot, but he has experienced very little. In the name of serving, he has sacrificed himself, his happiness, and his life to fulfill his duties as a man-servant with honor, dignity, and respect. By the time he begins to regret some of these choices and miss the things he looked past, it is far too late to actually go back and experience them. Brimming with rigidity and staunchly set in its period design and mannerisms, The Remains of the Day is a film about a man who was never afforded time to actually be himself.

Set in the British class system of the 1930s, Mr. Stevens is a man who puts dignity above all else. His father may be dying and he may be quickly gaining feelings for housekeeper Ms. Sally Kenton (Emma Thompson), but neither the loss nor the love are allowed to be felt. For one, his father would have wanted him to focus on his work and dignity. Second, it is improper for a butler to be married to a fellow servant. As such, neither event gets explored and instead, they get compartmentalized and dumped into the abyss Mr. Stevens has created within his soul. He is the human embodiment of Spongebob in the episode where he only knows "fine dining and breathing." However, the latter is entirely optional should he be requested otherwise. For Mr. Stevens, being a butler is his life. No matter how many dignitaries or politicians arrive at Darlington Hall, Mr. Stevens is oblivious to the goings on of the manor in regard to conversation. When it comes to running the place, he runs a tight ship and expects the very best of the fellow servants and holds them to the same standard he holds himself. Unfortunately, in shutting his eyes and ears to what goes on around the manor, he loses sight of events. While Lord Darlington quickly falling into the grasp of the Nazis, Mr. Stevens remains oblivious. He is just there to serve his well-mannered and gracious lord who is not to be questioned or debated with. Rather, he must only appear when requested and do as instructed. As time and life passes him by, Mr. Stevens remains committed to servitude, but with regrets. As the world around changes into one that is less structured and less focused upon gentlemanly behavior, he realizes that his efforts in remaining dignified may have been misguided. Above all, watching Ms. Kenton get married and divorced leaves him wondering what could have been had he actually indulged in his love for her, which was certainly requited. He was a man so committed to his career and a false sense of duty that he was unaware of the humanity of the home. He knew where everything went, where every room was, and what everybody's duty was in the home. However, when tasked with explaining the "birds and the bees" to Mr. Cardinal (Hugh Grant), he was rendered speechless. Through working so much, he had forgotten what it mean to truly live his life. When there begin to be cracks in his own rough exterior, he tries to suppress them and throw himself into his work. Through years of service, he has learned how to not feel and just do. This, however, has left him frightfully unfulfilled and constantly forced to endure the solemn recognition that his dedication left him working through life and never taking time to smell the roses and enjoy life. Now that his time is becoming increasingly limited and any reunion with Ms. Kenton out of the question, things will only become lonelier for this man who sacrificed himself to what he believed to be a noble pursuit.

In many films that depict butlers, their actions and work are background noise to the important conversations going on. However, here, the work is front-and-center. In exploring the life and times of a butler surrounded by important events, director James Ivory is not just able to explore the subtle changing of the times in Britain before and after the second World War, but also able to explore the life of a butler itself. Featuring complete self-sacrifice and dedication, the life is not an easy one, but it is one approached with pride by men such as Mr. Stevens who find it to be an honor that he is able to sacrifice his life in such a way. This is his calling. His passion. He takes it seriously and expects everybody else to do so as well. Ivory's film honors the men and women who dedicate themselves to servitude and receive very little in return for their honor, dignity, and manners. However, in honoring them, it equally mourns their dedication and expresses a desire for these people to be able to live
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7
DirigiblePulpApr 22, 2017
This film truly envelopes you in its world. It is immaculately constructed and warms you in an atmosphere of such a specific time and place you feel wholly part of it. I just wish I felt the same way about the "romance" at the center of this.This film truly envelopes you in its world. It is immaculately constructed and warms you in an atmosphere of such a specific time and place you feel wholly part of it. I just wish I felt the same way about the "romance" at the center of this. It's not that I didn't buy it I just never felt it and I get that Hopkins (who gives a greatly restrained and impassioned performance) is supposed to be withholding but I didn't get the fierce devotion that seemingly developed between him and Thompson. There are some gorgeously composed and affecting scenes at the end but they feel separate from the whole. Expand
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BroyaxJan 13, 2017
Chouettes acteurs qu'on a là, dites-moi ! et... bordel de merde je me suis encore endormi, 5 mn après le début. J'ai repris en avance rapide et ça m'a pris quand même un certain temps, eu égard à la durée de ce long-métrage qui semble neChouettes acteurs qu'on a là, dites-moi ! et... bordel de merde je me suis encore endormi, 5 mn après le début. J'ai repris en avance rapide et ça m'a pris quand même un certain temps, eu égard à la durée de ce long-métrage qui semble ne devoir jamais se terminer. D'ailleurs, à voir tous ces nobliaux et leur suite de larbins déblatérer sans fin d'un bout à l'autre du film, on ne saurait dire à quel moment on se trouve : on pourrait remonter tout ça dans le désordre et à l'envers qu'on y verrait que du feu.

Cette galerie de trous de balle qui lâchent un vent à chaque réplique, cette fête de la constipation permanente et cette pédanterie omniprésente mériteraient de figurer dans le livre des records intergalactiques. Dire que c'est ennuyeux tient de l'euphémisme assassin à traduire en justice et je m'insurge qu'on ait jamais pu infliger tel film à de tels acteurs, victimes innocentes de ce cloaque cinémachiatique.
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10
AkashVijayJan 19, 2015
Having now seen nearly every Merchany-Ivory film, I can legitimately say that the Remains of the Day remains their best one, by a long distance. If you lack patience, you'll never be able to appreciate the subtle strength of this film. TheHaving now seen nearly every Merchany-Ivory film, I can legitimately say that the Remains of the Day remains their best one, by a long distance. If you lack patience, you'll never be able to appreciate the subtle strength of this film. The poignancy in the Remains of the Day doesn't arise because we're able to connect with our characters and understand their actions. On the contrary, the part of the movie that I found most emotionally frustrating was my inability to comprehend Stevens (Brilliantly played by Anthony Hopkins) and his line of thought. But Anthony Hopkins clearly apprehends who Stevens is at his core and who he's trying to be. He's a man obsessed with his job, adamant about his role in Lord Darlington's House and resolute about his place in the world. He won't have anyone change his ways. He can't because that's all he knows how to do; that's all he ever does. He doesn't think too much about himself, perhaps because neither does anyone else. Miss Kenton (played by the impeccable Emma Thompson), the new housekeeper, unintentionally ignites the hidden fires within Stevens, of which he knew nothing about. Both fell for each other, neither prepared to take the first step. Not much happens in the remains of the day but whatever does happen, is felt intensely. Mr. Ivory cleverly doesn't sentimentalize or condemn: he merely captures as a passive observer. Was it Stevens' fear or his pride that triggered his dishonesty with himself about himself. He refuses to accept that he was falling in love with Miss Kenton.
The Remains of the Day is exasperating right to the very end but it stays true to its characters all the way through. Not all love stories have a happy ending. As we've seen with Stevens and Miss Kenton, sometimes people just give up or are too afraid to know what comes next.
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10
CritiqueGirlMar 1, 2011
I am still surprised as to how much I liked this movie. A butler? Really? And yet it was so well written, acted, directed that I thought it was outstanding.
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10
MIraqiOct 2, 2010
Ù
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10
NikkiM.Jun 14, 2007
Phenomenal film! Thompson and Hopkins are both extraordinary in their roles.
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8
ShahzadaG.Jul 3, 2004
?Dignity in Remains of the day ? An American mother lost four out of five of her sons at war in Vietnam during 1954. Yet her head is as high as Mount Everest with patriotic dignity. But it?s not the same dignity that we see in Stevens?s life ?Dignity in Remains of the day ? An American mother lost four out of five of her sons at war in Vietnam during 1954. Yet her head is as high as Mount Everest with patriotic dignity. But it?s not the same dignity that we see in Stevens?s life depicted on both in Kazuo Ishiguro?s novel and James Ivory?s film Remains of the day. It is Stevens? dignity that provokes questions to the readers and the viewers mind. It poses them to ponder what dignity actually means in life when they read or watch the film. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is the protagonist whose dormant feelings and self-indulgence have been suppressed by the concept of ?dignity? that he cherished with profound delicacy throughout his service life at Darlington hall. But unfortunately, that ?dignity? has brought little meaning and many unhappy moments in his life. His dignity has existed like a mist in a winter morning that goes away in the glare of a dazzling sun. Nearly at the end of the novel and also in the film, the viewers get to see how dignity plays a treacherous role in Stevens?s life. Nevertheless, the film did an excellent job in changing some scenes to emphasize and show dignity that is so ingrained in Stevens? life. Although the book has a greater detail of events than it is in the film, the director kept the central themes congruent. In the realm of modernism and capitalism, the English aristocracy and the formality of a butler?s profession remain as an interesting story, but not as a pervasive manner of lifestyle for today?s? generation. The modernism, individuality, and freedom of expression took over the habitual human thinking that was existed during the Darlington?s era. Generally ordinary citizens have little right to express their opinions on issues of politics. The English colonialism and their mannerism have also had an impact on the people during that time. According to Bert Cardullo? the elegiac representation of the British imperialism and celebrates its heyday by depicting a return to the practice of social hierarchy?(The servant,1). We also have seen in the movie that the international delegates are so secluded from the touch of the ordinary people. However, one may argue though that the impact of Modernism we have seen in Remains of the day would shape and mold the English civilization gradually rather than occurring as a revolution. There were people during the Darlington era who also have similar mannerism and modern thinking as today. For example Miss Kenton who believed on her opinions and has the dignity of choosing for her own as oppose to Stevens. She opposed the idea of firing those Jews servants and she chooses to marry and quite the job for her own happiness that was impossible for Stevens. For her it is the confidence in what she values has the high dignity and self esteem just as we would in today generation. The dignity is a quintessential idea in the novel. In the film it is undeniably repeated many times in order to simply establish the importance of it to the readers and the viewers of Remains of the day. The idea of dignity here has revolved around from the perspective of professional success and achievements. But both Stevens and his father have been a merciless victim of ?dignity?. Stevens father also suppressed his feeling for dignity. He served indifferently to the general even though his son died in war because of his absurd decision ( the remains of the day). But the dignity is nothing but merely a product of social and traditional legacy passed on to the so-called English gentleman?s society, which was an impediment to the growth of individuality. Nonetheless, dignity is not a valuable security that Stevens had thought about throughout his youth while providing service to Lord Darlington. It is unfolded at the end quite dramatically in his life. Because of the dignity he had lost an opportunity of having an affair with Miss Kenton who is Emma Thompson in the movie. Miss Kenton has implied her interests and feelings to him couple of times and tried to convey her love. Once she was invited to go out for a dinner with Mr. Benn and later proposed to marry him. And when she got back to Darlington, she asked Stevens about his opinion on it. But Stevens remained cold and formal as usual and expressed only congratulation that was inadequate and ignited subtly Miss Kenton?s emotional feelings( film- remains of the day). It is his dignity once again that has not only left his life sad and gloomy, but lonely as well. Stevens? dignity was all about Lord Darlington. His satisfaction comes from providing a better service without making silly mistakes. But the honor and dignity put Stevens in an awkward position. According to one of the critiques of the Remains of the day, Jennifer Bussey ? what a terrible mistake he realized that he made about both his failed romance with her and his support of Lord Darlington?s Nazi sympathies. This may be no more than denial and evasion in Anthony Hopkins? performance, but there is more at work in the novel?(critique on Remains). Eventually, Steven?s remuneration of service to lord Darlington has become a nostalgic memory only. Because of his dignity, he remained with the international congregation and did not go to see his dead father. He even had to keep his identity secrete from the outside world because disclosing his identity and his former employer Darlington would demean his value to the people of England. Essentially, his dignity made him a man who has no room for learning his feelings until the end. The director of the movie James Ivory says ?he portrays a kind of butler who does not talk or share opinions, but observes and sees ways to serve the master? (ljlkjljlkj). Thus, his ?dignity? and professionalism demolished his life that he could have had throughout his youth. Bibliography Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Remains of The Day.1989; London. Cardullo, Bert: The servant, Eden-Webster Library. Info Trac One file Plus. Jennifer, Bussey article: critical essay on ?The Remains of the Day? Ivory, Jmames: Remains of The Day. Colombia Pictures Ltd. Expand
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