Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day is a true high point in the career of producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory that resulted in several memorable literary adaptions over four decades. Released in 1993, Anthony Hopkins gives a nuanced performance as Mr. Stevens, head butler who presides over the staff at Darlington Hall, the residence of Lord Darlington (James Fox). Told largely in flashbacks, Stevens works hard to make sure life stays consistent and predictable, just the way Lord Darlington likes it.
Stevens’ entire life revolves around service; his goal in life is to serve his employer to the best of his ability. As we get to know him, it becomes apparent that his only goal at the expense of everything else. He puts blinders on to anything going on around him and denies himself personal emotions.
But when Steven hires a new housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) Stevens finds that he’s not immune to romantic feelings. This relationship is explored in the shadow of the Nazis’ rise to power in Germany. Lord Darlington, a Nazi sympathizer, who believes that the Treaty of Versailles was harsh, is determined to fight for peace, no matter what the cost. Some he invites to Darlington Hall, including U. S. Congressman Lewis (Christopher Reeve), are less than convinced and warns Darlington he’s playing a game best left to professionals.
As important as that is to the history of the world, it’s the relationship between Stevens and Kenton that truly intrigues. Watch them for more than twenty years, you just hope something will break Stevens’ emotional shell and he will reveal to Kenton how he feels about her. Watching him steal glances at her is painful! The ending of The Remains of the Day is uncompromising. no matter how many times I see the film.
Anthony Hopkins plays Stevens perfectly. It’s one of the best performances of his long career. The lack of emotional range—with the exception of a few subtle facial movements and ticks—is amazing. It’s hard to imagine anyone else being able to play the role as well. Hopkins is truly a master of subtlety. Emma Thompson does her usual solid job with her part, but this is Stevens’ story. Nonetheless, she mixes dedication with a quiet effusiveness, which works splendidly. Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant and Ben Chaplin perform strongly in small roles.
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Twilight Time has delivered another stunning 1080p transfer. Colors are vivid and detail is strong throughout. The image is clean and free of dirt, debris, or other anomalies. No DNR is apparent. Fans should be very pleased with this presentation.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation fits the film very well. While surround activity is minimal, dialogue, musical cues and ambient sounds are clean and clear throughout. There are no distortions or other issues to speak of.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Director James Ivory, Producer Ishmael Merchant and Actor Emma Thompson: A pleasure to listen to, the three provide lots of information on the production, location issues, casting, filming and more.
- An Isolated Score Track: Presented in DTS-HD MA Stereo with the original music by composer Richard Robbins.
- Love and Honor: The Making of The Remains of the Day (SD, 28:38) Includes lots of behind-the-scenes film footage, as well as interviews with Anthony Hopkins and James Ivory.
- The Remains of the Day: The Filmmaker’s Journey (SD, 29:53) Interviews with the filmmakers and author Kazuo Ishiguro, in which they discuss the film. Some behind-the-scenes footage is also included.
- Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honor: England’s Fatal Flaw (SD, 14:52) A discussion of the films storyline and its historical context.
- Deleted Scenes: Seven in total shot in full frame, with optional director’s commentary.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
- Six-Page Booklet: A fine selection of color stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s thoughtful essay on the film.
There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.