The Wings of the Dove (1997 film)
|The Wings of the Dove|
|Directed by||Iain Softley|
|Produced by||Bob Weinstein
|Screenplay by||Hossein Amini|
|Starring||Helena Bonham Carter
|Music by||Ed Shearmur|
|Editing by||Tariq Anwar|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||103 minutes|
The Wings of the Dove is a 1997 drama film directed by Iain Softley and starring Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, and Alison Elliott. The screenplay by Hossein Amini is based on the 1902 novel of the same name by Henry James. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and five BAFTAs, recognizing Bonham Carter's performance, the screenplay, costume design and the cinematography.
In early 1900s London, England, Kate Croy (Helena Bonham Carter) lives under the careful watch of her domineering Aunt Maude (Charlotte Rampling), who is determined that the young woman does not follow in the path of her recently deceased mother, whose dissolute husband, Lionel (Michael Gambon), squandered her wealth in order to support his opium addiction. Maude wants Kate to marry the well-off Lord Mark (Alex Jennings), who has a title and estates, despite the fact that Kate does not love him. Kate is dependent on her wealthy aunt's goodwill, but abandons her plans to defy her aunt when she is reminded that her father is at Maud's mercy as well. Kate's boyfriend, the financially struggling muckraking journalist Merton Densher (Linus Roache), wants to marry her, but is skeptical of Kate's intentions despite her pleas for him to wait as she tries to find a way out of her dilemma.
One day, Kate is introduced by Lord Mark to the wealthy and outgoing American orphan and heiress Milly Theale (Alison Elliott), who is on an extended trip through Europe with her best friend Susan Stringham (Elizabeth McGovern), and the cynical Kate is captivated by Milly's beauty, openness, and amusement at the conventions of society. Milly invites Kate to accompany her and Susan to Venice. Prior to their departure, Milly meets Merton, with whom she is smitten, and she asks him to join them as well.
Lord Mark secretly reveals to Kate that Milly is terminally ill, and that he desires Kate but has to marry Milly to avoid losing his estates. Knowing Milly is repulsed by Lord Mark's crudity, she decides to emulate his scheme and persuade Merton to woo Milly; she fully expects Milly's generous nature will lead her to include Merton in her will, making him wealthy enough to satisfy her aunt and allow them to marry. He despises her scheme but can't resist the opportunity to be in Venice with Kate. Kate becomes so jealous of the genuine affection growing between Merton and Milly that she lures him away one night, abandoning Milly in a crowd. Milly confronts her the next morning and Kate realizes she must leave, without warning Merton, if her scheme is to succeed. What neither she nor Merton anticipate is how things will change when she is gone.
Some months later, following Milly's death in Venice, Kate comes to Merton's flat. She asks why he has not come to see her and finds a letter, telling Merton that Milly did indeed bequeath a sizable portion of her estate to him. He tells Kate that he will not take the money, and she must marry him without it, if she will. She agrees, and they make love. But afterwards, Kate asks him to tell her that he is not still in love with Milly, or his memory of her, and he cannot. So Merton returns to Venice, alone.
London exterior locations include Brompton Cemetery on Fulham Road; Carlton House Terrace in St. James's; Freemasons' Hall on Great Queen Street; Kensington Gardens; the National Liberal Club on Whitehall; the Richmond Fellowship; and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire, Syon House in Middlesex, and Painshill Park in Surrey also were used for outdoor settings. Interiors were filmed at Debenham House on Addison Road, London and at Shepperton Studios, including mock-ups of a platform tunnel and passageways representing both Dover Street and Knightsbridge tube stations.
The film grossed $13,718,385 in the US.
- Helena Bonham Carter as Kate Croy
- Linus Roache as Merton Densher
- Alison Elliott as Milly Theale
- Elizabeth McGovern as Susan Stringham
- Charlotte Rampling as Aunt Maude
- Michael Gambon as Lionel Croy
- Alex Jennings as Lord Mark
In his review in the New York Times, Stephen Holden called the film a "spellbinding screen adaptation [that] succeeds where virtually every other film translation of a James novel has stumbled . . . This magnificent film conveys an intimation of what values count the most, of what really matters, but it is also far too intelligent and sympathetic to human frailty to spell them out. You feel them most of all in the characters' unbridgeable silences." 
Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The Wings of the Dove was a minor literary work that manages on screen to upstage both Washington Square and The Portrait of a Lady, two superior Henry James novels that came across as stiff and deliberate in recent film translations. This is a breakthrough for Softley, whose earlier films Backbeat and Hackers only hinted at the style and complexity he displays here, and a wonderful showcase for Roache, Elliott and Bonham Carter, who gives her best performance yet." 
In Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman graded the film A and observed it "has a lush yet aching beauty that seems to saturate you as you watch it. I'm not just talking about visual beauty. I'm speaking of dramatic beauty, the exquisite moment-to-moment tension of characters who reveal themselves layer by layer, flowing from thought to feeling and back again, until thought and feeling become drama. Director Iain Softley has made one of the rare movies that evokes not just the essence of a great novel but the experience of it . . . The Wings of the Dove is, I think, a great film . . . that confirms the arrival of major screen talents: director Softley, who works with sublime sensitivity to the intricacies of self-deception; Bonham Carter and Roache, who create a dazzlingly intimate chemistry within the propriety of Jamesian manners; and The Spitfire Grill's Alison Elliott, who, with her beatific charm and Mona Lisa smile, does one of the most difficult things an actress can — she brings goodness itself to life." 
David Stratton of Variety stated the film "gives Helena Bonham Carter one of her best opportunities in a while, one which she seizes with relish, looking vibrant and totally convincing in her pivotal role . . . The Wings of the Dove may be typical of the school of British literary cinema, but Softley's handling of several key elements, including an unusually frank love scene in the later stages, is always inventive. Production values are of the highest standard." 
Awards and nominations
- “The City of Falling Angels, John Berendt, Penguin Books, 2006, pg.147 , ISBN 1-59420-058-0
- "''The Wings of the Dove'' at TheNumbers.com". The-numbers.com. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- "''New York Times'' review". Nytimes.com. 1997-11-07. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- Edward Guthmann (1997-11-14). "''San Francisco Chronicle'' review". Sfgate.com. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman (1997-11-07). "''Entertainment Weekly'' review". Ew.com. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- Stratton, David (2000-06-14). "''Variety'' review". Variety.com. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- Official website
- The Wings of the Dove at the Internet Movie Database
- The Wings of the Dove at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Wings of the Dove at Box Office Mojo
- The Wings of the Dove at Metacritic