Posts Tagged ‘Kit Hesketh Harvey’

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Cohen Media Group

Release Date: September 05, 2017

Region: Region A

Length: 140 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

2.0 Linear PCM Audio

Alternate Audio: 5.1 English Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.66:1

Original One Sheet

“The thing that marks Maurice as a gay film is that its story has a happy ending. Forster always wanted that. He wrote about it and said that. Most gay stories, at least back then, ended with some very bad thing. In that way, it was maybe ahead of its time. And also, I was lucky with my actors, because they weren’t frightened of it. All three guys were straight, but they kissed lustily, and they weren’t afraid of intimacy. Even today, the physical closeness often puts many actors off. And remember that Maurice came out at a time of great tragedy and unhappiness, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. There was no cure yet, and people were losing their lives, and their family and friends.” -James Ivory (The Village Voice, May 15, 2017)

Set against the stifling conformity of pre-World War I English society, Maurice is a moving story about coming to terms with one’s sexuality and identity in the face of disapproval and misunderstanding. It is based on E.M. Forster’s novel, which was written at the height of his career—although he withheld it from publication until after his death due to England’s obscenity laws.

His book and this film adaptation centers on Maurice Hall (James Wilby) and Clive Durham (Hugh Grant), who find themselves falling in love at Cambridge. In a time when homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment, the two must keep their feelings for one another a complete secret. After a friend is arrested and disgraced for “the unspeakable vice of the Greeks,” Clive abandons his forbidden love and marries a young woman. Maurice, however, struggles with his identity and self-confidence. He even seeks the help of a hypnotist to rid himself of his undeniable urges. But while staying with Clive and his wife, Anne, Maurice is seduced by an affectionate and yearning servant named Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves).

Maurice was originally released in 1987 and was the second of James Ivory’s three acclaimed adaptations of E.M. Forster novels (arriving between A Room With a View and Howards End). It was extremely controversial but managed to win three major awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival: Best Actor (shared by James Wilby and Hugh Grant), Best Director, and Best Music. Those who are familiar with other “Merchant Ivory Productions” will know precisely what to expect, and can probably use their experiences with their other films to judge whether this particular movie will appeal to them—that is if the subject matter hasn’t already dissuaded them. Needless to say, this isn’t a movie that just anyone can enjoy.

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

The Blu-ray discs are protected by the standard Blu-ray case with the film’s 30th Anniversary Re-release poster artwork framed by the Cohen Media Group’s “C” logo. It is nice to report that the case is further protected by a slip cover that features the same artwork without the “C” logo framing the artwork. One wishes that the original one sheet artwork could have been utilized as it is more elegant.

The animated menus utilize footage from the film with music from the film’s score.

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Cohen’s new 30th Anniversary Edition of Maurice features a gorgeous new 4K restoration transfer taken from the film’s original 35MM negative. This work was overseen and approved by director James Ivory and cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. The resulting image is pristine and doesn’t show any signs of age. There is a nice and organic layer of film grain throughout the film, though it might be a bit heavy for certain viewers. One can assume that the colorists have rendered the image in a manner that is in keeping with the filmmaker’s original intentions since both the director and cinematographer supervised and approved the transfer. It is really a very attractive image—even if (like most films) there are some slight discrepancies in terms of clarity and fine detail. Some scenes simply look slightly superior to others. Contrast is nicely handled and black levels seem to be well handled for the most part. This is a very nice transfer that beats all previous home video releases in terms of quality.

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Cohen Media Group has included two quality sound mixes. The first option is a 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio mix that was created as part of the film’s restoration at Audio Mechanics (Burbank) from the original 35MM magnetic track held at the George Eastman Museum. The film’s sound design isn’t overwhelmingly dynamic in nature and this surround mix isn’t either, but why would anyone expect a 5.1 mix to be anything other than a good (albeit slightly updated) rendering of the filmmaker’s original intentions? The film’s music certainly benefits from the surround as does the well placed atmospherics. This is especially apparent in exterior sequences. It might not be a showy track, but it supports the film admirably. Dialogue is consistently clean, clear, and well prioritized throughout the duration. The restoration team has done an admirable job at cleaning the track of any anomalies such as pops, crackle, hum, and hiss.

The 2.0 Linear PCM Audio track is also quite solid, but one wonders why Cohen has even bothered with the 5.1 Dolby Digital track when the two lossless choices are more than adequate.

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Cohen Media Group offers over 2 hours and 44 minutes’ worth of informative supplemental entertainment that is sure to thrill admirers of both this film and James Ivory. It looks as if this release also contains the most robust supplemental package on a home video release.

Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes (with Commentary by James Ivory) – (SD) – (39:03)

Perhaps the strongest and most illuminating of the bonus material included here is this collection of deleted and alternate scenes. James Ivory even offers some interesting commentary to provide contextual information to sweeten the deal.

A Director’s Perspective – (HD) – (40:08)

It’s always fun to hear filmmakers talking shop, and this conversation between James Ivory and Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) is one of the best supplements included in this package.

The Story of Maurice – (SD) – (30:29)

This is a kind of “making of” featurette that includes interview footage with Kit Hesketh Harvey, James Wilby, and Hugh Grant. It isn’t a comprehensive overview and doesn’t delve that much deeper than the standard publicity piece, but it is still a diverting viewing experience.

Q&A with James Ivory and Pierre Lhomme – (HD) – (22:59)

Nicholas Elliott (US Correspondent for Cahiers du Cinema) moderates this Q&A event held at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). It is an instructive conversation that should appeal to fans of Maurice and James Ivory.

James Ivory and Pierre Lhomme on the Making of Maurice – (HD) – (15:44)

James Ivory and Pierre Lhomme team up again for this discussion held at Cohen’s New York facility. It is enjoyable but slightly less informative than their Q&A.

Conversation with the Filmmakers – (SD) – (12:51)

James Ivory, Ismael Merchant, and Richard Robbins discuss the film in this archival featurette that is illustrated with footage from the film. It isn’t terribly comprehensive, but it is interesting and worthwhile. This is the only feature on the disc that features Ismael Merchant, so it is nice to have here for this reason alone.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (HD) – (00:27)

The original theatrical trailer is short but sweet and is extremely welcome.

30th Anniversary Re-release Trailer – (HD) – (02:21)

Cohen Media Group’s 30th Anniversary Re-release trailer is also here for good measure and is a nice way to round out the disc. It captures the tone of the film rather gracefully.

Re-release One Sheet

Final Words:

Liberal minded viewers with a fondness for stately costume dramas, Merchant-Ivory Productions, or LGBT subject matter will probably want to pick up this excellent 30th Anniversary Edition of Maurice from the Cohen Media Group.