I’m doing a review of both the book and the movie. I’ll start with the book:
Written by Kazuo Ishiguro, its about a butler named Stevens who is totally devoted to his employer Lord Darlington, and sometimes his devotion is to a fault, because he misses the chance for love in the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. The story is written as a narrative of Stevens in the 1950′s. He reflects on the past, namely the 1930′s (pre World War II).
The story begins in the 50′s, with Stevens serving his new employer, Mr. Farraday. Farraday is a rich American who purchased Darlington Hall following Lord Darlington’s death. Farraday is a man with a sense of humor, and Stevens’ “sense of humor” (if you can call it that) does not match Farraday’s. So we see throughout the book Stevens trying to gain a sense of humor, and is constantly worrying about trying to match his employer’s sense of humor.
Farraday is taking a trip back to America to fetch his family, and suggests that Stevens take some time off while he is gone to see the country. Stevens is torn about leaving Darlington Hall, but his mind is made up when he receives a letter from Miss Kenton, where she gives some hint about wishing to return to service, because it seems that her marriage is not in a good state. Because Stevens is looking for a housekeeper, he decides to go and “see the country” and also see Miss Kenton, to see if she would like to work at Darlington Hall again.
On his trip he remnisces about the former “glory days” of Darlington Hall, and also of Miss Kenton. I won’t give all of the examples of his memories, but it is easy to see that though he has a cold demeanor, Stevens is in love with Miss Kenton. It is also easy to see that Miss Kenton most likely loves him too, however neither one of them actually voice their feelings. Miss Kenton is married to a man in the village, and she moves away to the West Country, leaving Stevens behind. The years pass, and they eventually lose most contact.
When Stevens gets to meet with Miss Kenton, she says that although she was thinking about returning to service, her marriage is not in such a bad state, and she has moved back in with her husband. While she is saying this, Stevens confesses that his heart was breaking.
In the end of the book there is a touching scene where Stevens confesses his feelings to a former butler he had just met on a pier. If you want to read this book, be warned that sometimes it seems like a bit much to take in sometimes. You need a stomach for reading this kind of literature, because it doesn’t have the “happy ending” or huge love scenes. Its very British.
Remains of the Day is a Merchant/ Ivory production (see Howard’s End, Room With a View). It stars Anthony Hopkins as Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton.
The movie follows the book fairly well, although for brevity some characters have been changed or gotten rid of. Hopkins and Thompson do a wonderful job, as well as the supporting cast which includes James Fox, Christopher Reeve, and Hugh Grant. The music in this film is beautiful as well, with the woodwinds playing low, flowing music and the violins and flutes playing longer notes over the top. Its wonderful. I love this movie, it’s definitely one of my favorite movies. Here is the trailer: