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Film Reviews Howards End re-release celebrates a Merchant Ivory masterpiece

Anthony Hopkins stars in the 1992 drama Howards End, which gets re-released this year.

Courtesy of Touchwood

4 out of 4 stars

Title
Howards End
Written by
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Directed by
James Ivory
Starring
Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave
Genre
Drama
Classification
PG
Country
UK/Japan/USA
Language
English
Year
1992

It wasn't too long ago that the phrase "Merchant Ivory film" carried an intimidating weight in the film industry.

Not because the movies themselves were of a forceful or brutish nature (quite the opposite) but because the producing-directing team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory were ridiculously skilled at creating Academy Award powerhouses: mannered period pieces based on the works of Henry James and E.M. Forster which so enraptured audiences and critics alike that trying to compete with them was a fool's errand.

But there hasn't been a true Merchant-Ivory production since 2005's The White Countess, due to Merchant's death, at age 68, that year. Which is all the more reason to celebrate the decision to re-release the pair's masterpiece, Howards End, this week – partly to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary and partly to show off a mostly stunning "4K restoration."

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For those already familiar with the Anthony Hopkins-starring drama, it's a chance to revisit one of the actor's finest performances. For those who only know the term "Merchant Ivory film" as some vague, half-forgotten genre, it's a can't-miss opportunity to experience some of the finest filmmaking of the 20th century.

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