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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » A Room with a View (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
A Room with a View (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
Criterion // Unrated // September 29, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 4, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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A Room with a View Blu-ray Review

A Room with a View is the first Merchant Ivory adaptation of a novel written by author E.M. Forster. The pair of producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory was a fruitful collaboration in cinema with several projects over the years (including Howard's End and The Remains of the Day). A Room with a View was one of their most successful collaborations and it became an enormous box-office hit and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.

The story begins as Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) visits the Pensione Bertolini in Florence with chaperon Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith). The pair finds that they were not given a nice "room with a view" and are disappointed upon their arrival. They soon meet Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott), who is an English tourist and son George Emerson (Julian Sands), who both agree to swap rooms with them so they can get a better view of Florence.

The story centers upon Lucy Honeychurch. Honeychurch is nineteen years old, from an upper-class family, and is someone who is trying to figure out her romantic feelings between the more free-spirited George Emerson (Julian Sands), whom she meets while on vacation and Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis), from Surrey, who is more of an admirer of the arts and an enormous reader. Over the course of the story, Lucy must decide on her romantic feelings between the two men.

During the story, Lucy meets Reverend Mr. Beebe (Simon Callow) and Reverend Mr. Eager (Patrick Godfrey), of the Anglican Church in Florence. Upon spending more time with Charlotte, Lucy becomes acquainted with Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), a successful novelist whose new novel becomes inspired by her. Lucy also spends time exploring Florence while having her vacation.

The film is less plot-focused and is more character-based as it explores the romantic journey Lucy Honeychurch takes during the story. The storytelling is mostly focused on the romantic element. The screenplay written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, as adapted by the E.M. Forster novel, is an excellent and elegant one. The screenplay won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The production was lavishly mounted with great efforts from the production crew. Production designs were done by Brian Ackland-Snow (Maurice) and Gianni Quaranta (1900). The music score was composed by Richard Robbins (Howard's End) and is effective and noteworthy. The art direction was done by Elio Altramura and Brian Savegar. Costumes were designed by Jenny Beavan (The King's Speech) and John Bright (Sense and Sensibility). Both the art direction and costume design efforts for A Room with a View won respective Academy Awards. Perhaps the most gorgeous element of the film's production is the stunning cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts (Howard's End, Underworld), which adds a lot to the film's romantic sensibility.

Director James Ivory has crafted another superb period drama with A Room with a View. The effort was clearly an enormous undertaking and the film is one which is sensitively directed throughout. Ivory brings forth impressive performances from the cast. The gorgeous style of filmmaking makes this a visually stunning effort.

A Room with a View is certainly another worthwhile Merchant Ivory collaboration in adapting a classic romantic story. The film is well worth experiencing for fans of filmmaker James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and the superb cast. This emotionally rich romantic period-drama succeeds as a lavish production.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

A Room with a View arrives on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection with a stunning 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This presentation is of a brand-new 4K restoration of the film. This remastered version has excellent color reproduction, clarity, depth, and detail. The image is naturally filmic with fine film grain intact. A lot of effort clearly went into creating this brand new 4K restoration of A Room with a View. The encode is exceptional as well with a high 35 mbps bit-rate.

Audio:

The audio for A Room with a View is presented in lossless uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio 24 bit 2.0 stereo surround. This is a strong audio presentation with good dialogue clarity and detail. The film has a simple sound design but it is an effective one which has been well remastered for the Criterion release.

English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are provided.


Extras:

A printed essay written by John Pym about A Room with a View.

Thought and Passion (21 min.) is a new 2015 documentary featuring director James Ivory, cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts, and costume designer John Bright discussing the production of A Room with a View.

The Eternal Yes (36 min.) features brand new interviews with actors Helena Bonham Carter, Simon Callow, and Julian Sands about the film.

NBC Nightly News (4 min.) excerpt (from a 1987 episode covering director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and the enormous success of A Room with a View).

Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts:

A Room with a View is an interesting and compelling romantic-drama from collaborators James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Helena Bonham Carter impresses in one of her earliest roles and  Daniel Day-Lewis especially excels in the role of Cecil Vyse. The film is exquisitely made. Criterion's new 4K remastered Blu-ray release of A Room with a View is stunning. This is a remarkable restoration and this is a release that is well worth a purchase for fans of the film.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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