Howards End (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Ivory|
|Produced by||Ismail Merchant|
|Screenplay by||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala|
|Based on||Howards End
by E. M. Forster
Helena Bonham Carter
|Music by||Richard Robbins
Percy Grainger (opening and end title)
|Editing by||Andrew Marcus|
|Studio||Merchant Ivory Productions|
|Distributed by||Mayfair (UK)
Sony Pictures Classics
|Running time||140 minutes|
Howards End is a 1992 film based upon the novel of the same name by E. M. Forster (published in 1910), a story of class relations in turn-of-the-20th-century England. The film—produced by Merchant Ivory Productions as their third adaptation of a Forster novel (following A Room with a View in 1985 and Maurice in 1987)—was the first film to be released by Sony Pictures Classics. The screenplay was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant.
Howards End was entered as Official selection for Cannes International Film Festival and won 45th Anniversary Award. In 1993, the film received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture for Ismail Merchant and Best Director for James Ivory. The film won three awards, including for Best Art Direction (Luciana Arrighi and Ian Whittaker). Ruth Prawer Jhabvala earned her second Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, while Emma Thompson won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
The story takes place in Edwardian Britain. Three families represent three social classes: the Wilcoxes are wealthy capitalists, the class that is displacing the aristocracy; the Schlegel sisters represent the enlightened bourgeoisie; and the Basts are in the lower middle class. (Forster is clear that the novel is "not concerned with the very poor".) The film asks the question ""Who will inherit England?" and answers it through the ownership of the house, Howards End, as it passes from person to person.
At the start of the film, the younger sister, Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham Carter), rashly becomes engaged to the younger Wilcox son, Paul. The next day both realise their mistake and break it off, but Helen has told her older sister, who tells her family. Her Aunt Juley (Prunella Scales) arrives at Howards End and so makes the Wilcox family aware of the engagement. Later, when the Wilcox family takes a house near to the Schlegels in London, the sister, Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson), feels compelled to visit because of the social embarrassment of the previous year. She befriends the mother, Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave). Ruth is descended from English yeoman stock and it is through her family that the Wilcoxes own Howards End, a house which she loves dearly and which is the symbol of rural the United Kingdom and British tradition. Over the course of a few months, the two women become close friends, and Ruth sees in Margaret a kindred spirit. Hearing that the lease on the Schlegels' London house is due to expire, and knowing she is soon to die, Ruth bequeaths Howards End to Margaret. This causes great consternation for the Wilcoxes, who refuse to believe that Ruth was in her "right mind" or intended her home to go to a relative stranger. The Wilcoxes burn the piece of paper that Ruth's bequest is written on, and decide to keep her will secret. Because he knows that he has prevented the Schlegels from finding a home in Howards End, Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) offers to help Margaret find a new place to live. As a result, the two become close and Henry proposes. Margaret accepts.
The Schlegels befriend a young, poor, yet intellectual clerk, Leonard Bast (Samuel West). Wishing to improve his lot, they pass along advice from Henry that Leonard should leave his post because his company is heading for a crash. Leonard does so, but finds himself in a worse position and eventually unemployed.
The two plotlines converge at the marriage party of Evie Wilcox (daughter of Henry and Ruth). Helen has found the Basts starving and brings them to the party. Jacky Bast (Nicola Duffett) becomes drunk; Margaret approaches her with Henry to find out who she is. Jacky recognises Henry and it becomes clear that years previously he had had an affair with her. Humiliated and suspicious, Henry breaks off the engagement, but that evening he and Margaret reconcile and she forgives his sexual impropriety. In accordance with Henry's wishes, she insists that Helen take the Basts away and refuses them help.
Because of this, the Schlegel sisters drift apart. Helen has a brief affair with Leonard Bast. She becomes pregnant, and leaves the country, telling none of her condition. When Helen returns to take her possessions, she asks if she can stay one night at Howards End. When Henry Wilcox finds out that Helen is pregnant, he insists that she cannot stay in the house, and that the man responsible must be found out and punished for dishonouring her.
Margaret and Henry argue bitterly about the different standards of sexual propriety applied to men and women, and Margaret says she is leaving Henry. Margaret, Leonard and the oldest Wilcox son Charles (James Wilby) all make their way separately to Howards End and the final tragedy unfolds: Charles attacks and inadvertently kills Leonard, and is arrested. Henry's pride is shaken; his feelings break through at last, and he and Margaret become truly close.
Ultimately, Ruth Wilcox's wish is fulfilled: Henry leaves Howards End to Margaret upon his death. Helen is reconciled with Margaret, and Helen will raise her son as heir. In both film and novel, the final ownership of Howards End is a symbol of new class relations in Britain: the wealth of the new industrialists (the Wilcoxes) married to the politically reforming vision of liberalism (the Schlegels) that will benefit the children of the lower classes (the Basts).
- Vanessa Redgrave ... Ruth Wilcox
- Helena Bonham Carter ... Helen Schlegel
- Joseph Bennett ... Paul Wilcox
- Emma Thompson ... Margaret Schlegel
- Prunella Scales ... Aunt Juley
- Adrian Ross Magenty ... Tibby Schlegel
- Jo Kendall ... Annie
- Anthony Hopkins ... Henry Wilcox
- James Wilby ... Charles Wilcox
- Jemma Redgrave ... Evie Wilcox
- Ian Latimer ... Stationmaster
- Samuel West ... Leonard Bast
- Simon Callow ... Music and Meaning Lecturer (cameo)
- Mary Nash ... Pianist
- Siegbert Prawer ... Man Asking a Question
- Susie Lindeman ... Dolly Wilcox
- Nicola Duffett ... Jacky Bast
- Mark Tandy, Andrew St. Clair, Anne Lambton, Emma Godfrey, Duncan Brown, Iain Kelly ... Luncheon Guests
- Atalanta White... Maid at Howards End
- Gerald Paris ... Porphyrion Supervisor
- Allie Byrne, Sally Geoghegan, Paula Stockbridge, Bridget Duvall, Lucy Freeman, Harriet Stewart, Tina Leslie ... Blue-stockings
- Mark Payton ... Percy Cahill
- David Delaney ... Simpson's Carver
- Mary McWilliams ... Wilcox Baby
- Barbara Hicks ... Miss Avery
- Rodney Rymell ... Chauffeur
- Luke Parry ... Tom, the Farmer's Boy
- Antony Gilding ... Bank Supervisor
- Peter Cellier ... Colonel Fussell
- Crispin Bonham Carter ... Albert Fussell
- Patricia Lawrence, Margery Mason ... Wedding Guests
- Jim Bowden ... Martlett
- Alan James ... Porphyrion Chief Clerk
- Jocelyn Cobb ... Telegraph Operator
- Peter Darling ... Doctor
- Terence Sach ... Deliveryman
- Brian Lipson ... Police Inspector
- Barr Heckstall-Smith ... Helen's Child
Anthony Hopkins accepted the part of Henry Wilcox without reading the script. Phoebe Nicholls, Joely Richardson, Miranda Richardson and Tilda Swinton were all considered for the part of Margaret Schlegel before Emma Thompson accepted the role. Jemma Redgrave (Evie Wilcox), who plays the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave (Ruth Wilcox), is her real-life niece. This is the only time they have shared the screen, although Jemma did act with her Aunt Vanessa on stage in Chekhov's Three Sisters in 1990, a production in which the third sister was played by Vanessa's sister Lynn Redgrave.
- "Bridal Lullaby" by Percy Grainger
Courtesy of Bardie Edition
- "Mock Morris" by Percy Grainger
Courtesy of Schott & Co., Ltd.
- "La Dance" (1906) by André Derain
(c) 1992 Artist Rights Socitey, New York/ADAGP
Courtesy of the Fridart Foundation.
- 5th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven (uncredited)
The score was composed by Richard Robbins, with elements of the score based on Percy Grainger's works "Bridal Lullaby" and "Mock Morris". The piano pieces were performed by the English concert pianist Martin Jones.
Filming locations 
Part of the film was shot at the Baltic Exchange, 30 St. Mary Axe, London. Soon after filming there it was bombed by the IRA, razed, and the Swiss Re building, or The Gherkin was erected on its site. Other scenes were shot in the quadrangle of the Founder's Building at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Surrey.  The "Howards End" house in the countryside is Peppard Cottage in Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire, and the Wilcoxes's house is nearby. Some scenes were also shot at Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire.
As of December 28, 2010, the film-critics aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes listed 91% positive reviews based on 34 reviews (31 "fresh", 3 "rotten").
According to the website Box Office Mojo the Total Gross of the film stands at $25,966,555.
- 1992: Cannes Film Festival 45th Anniversary Prize (James Ivory)
- 1992: New York Film Critics' Circle—Best Actress (Emma Thompson)
- 1992: Los Angeles Film Critics' Association—Best Actress (Emma Thompson)
- 1992: National Board of Review—Best Actress (Emma Thompson)
- 1992: Southeastern Film Critics Association—Best Actress (Emma Thompson)
- 1993: Academy Awards
- 1993: BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Thompson)
- 1993: BAFTA Award for Best Film (Ismail Merchant, James Ivory)
- 1993: Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture (Emma Thompson)
- 1993: Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (Emma Thompson)
- 1993: Evening Standard British Film Awards
- Best Actress (Emma Thompson)
- Best Film (James Ivory)
- 1993: Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards—(Emma Thompson)
- 1993: London Critics Circle Film Awards—(British Film of the Year)
- 1993 Academy Awards:
- 1993 British Academy Film Awards:
- Best Direction (James Ivory)
- Best Screenplay—Adapted (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helena Bonham Carter)
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Samuel West)
- Best Cinematography (Tony Pierce-Roberts)
- Best Production Design (Luciana Arrighi)
- Best Costume Design (Jenny Beavan, John Bright)
- Best Editing (Andrew Marcus)
- Best Make-Up Artist (Christine Beveridge)
- 1993 Golden Globe Awards:
- "Howard’s End". The Castles and Manor Houses of Cinema's Greatest Period Films. Architectural Digest. January 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- IMDB Filming locations for Howards End (1992). Retrieved on March 6, 2007.
- Country Life. "Interview, Edward Harley". Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- "Howards End (1992)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
- Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
- "Festival de Cannes: Howards End". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-02.