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Howards End (1992)

Cast:

Emma Thompson .... Margaret Schlegel
Anthony Hopkins .... Henry Wilcox
Helena Bonham Carter .... Helen Schlegel
Samuel West .... Leonard Bast
James Wilby .... Charles Wilcox
Jemma Redgrave .... Evie Wilcox
Joseph Bennett .... Paul Wilcox
Susie Lindeman .... Dolly Wilcox
Prunella Scales .... Aunt Juley
Vanessa Redgrave .... Ruth Wilcox
Adrian Ross Magenty .... Tibby Schlegel

Howards End depicts the life and manners of the upper middle class at Turn-of-the-Century England.

Most of us connect the notion of "home" or "childhood home" with one particular place, that innocent paradise we have since had to give up and keep searching for forever after. In Ruth Wilcox's world, Howards End is that place; the countryside house where she was born, where her family often returns to spend their vacations, and which, everyone assumes, will pass on to her children when she is dead.

And it is through Ruth Wilcox's eyes that we first see Howards End; approaching the house after an evening walk through her beloved meadow, her long dress trailing in the grass, as she goes nearer, we see the open windows letting out warm light from inside, and hear the voices and laughter from the family's dinner table. And while Mrs. Wilcox returns to join her family's company, two others are leaving the house and its serene world: Helen Schlegel and Paul Wilcox, embarking on a passionate romance which is not even to survive the next morning not before, however, Helen has informed her sister Margaret that she and Paul are "in love," and thus set in motion the first of a series of confusing and controversial meetings between their families.

While both families belong to the middle class, they are nevertheless separated by several layers of society and politics the Wilcox, led by businessman Henry, rich, conservative and without any sympathy whatsoever for those less fortunate than themselves ("It's all part of the battle of life ... The poor are poor; one is sorry for them, but there it is," Henry Wilcox once comments); the Schlegels, on the other hand, with just enough income to lead a comfortable life, brought up by their Aunt Juley, supporting suffrage (women's right to vote) and surrounding themselves with actors, "blue-stockings" (feminists), intellectuals and other members of the avantgarde. Further complexity is added when Helen brings to the Schlegel home Leonard Bast, a poor but idealistic young clerk who loves music, literature, astronomy and lives in genteel poverty and with him, his working class wife Jacky, the embarrassment of having to interact with her, and the even more embarrassing revelation she has in store for Henry Wilcox.

The story centers around Margaret (Meg) Schlegel, who is filled with a profound vivacity, a continual and sincere response to all that she encounters in her path through life. She and her sister, Helen, and brother Tibby, represent the middle level of middle class society, independent, but not wealthy. Meg's friendship with Ruth Wilcox brings the families back together after Helen's near-scandalous episode with Paul; and the two women become so close that Ruth eventually decides to give Meg "something worth her friendship" none other than Howards End, a wish that causes a family panic, discussing every reason to invalidate the codicil, from its lacking date and signature to Ruth's state of mind.

And so it is that Meg will only see the house when she and her siblings have to look for a new home and Henry Wilcox, who has started to court her after Ruth's death, suggests that the Schlegel's furniture be temporarily stored there a fateful decision. And while Meg and Henry slowly and painfully learn to adjust to each other, the complexity of their families' relations, and their interactions with the Basts, finally come crashing down on them in a dramatic conclusion.

Margaret tries to bridge the upper and lower levels of the middle class. Her practical abilities, inner strength and emotional perceptiveness enable her to appreciate the Wilcoxes and, at the same time, strive for a finer life, which she perceives can only be found from enjoying an emotionally life experience.

Helen becomes pregnant by Leonard Bast and disappears for eight months. At Henry's suggestion, Margaret lures Helen to Howards End and they reconcile. Henry eventually must face the discovery that his son, Charles, has caused the death of Leonard Bast (a beating causes Leonard's heart to fail), and Charles must serve time in prison. Henry is a broken man, but Margaret undertakes his care. Henry eventually is reconciled to Helen. She and her illegitimate child join Margaret and Henry at Howards End, where peace and stability are enjoyed.

Filming of Howards End took place in several England locations,
including Oxfordshire and Dorchester-on-Thames


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The midi playing is Grainger's Mock Morris, from the film.



Andre Derain