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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Room With a View [Blu-ray]


(James Ivory, 1985)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Goldcrest Films International

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #775



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:57:11.315 

Disc Size: 45,749,109,362 bytes

Feature Size: 34,307,248,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 29th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2114 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2114 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



• Thought and Passion (21:22)

The Eternal Yes (36:22)
Segment about Merchant Ivory Productions from a 1987 episode of NBC Nightly News (4:06)
Trailer (2:23)
PLUS: An essay by film critic and author John Pymh






Description: Merchant Ivory Productions, led by director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, became a household name with A Room with a View, the first of their extraordinary adaptations of E. M. Forster novels. A cherubic nineteen-year-old Helena Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, a young, independent- minded, upper-class Edwardian woman who is trying to sort out her burgeoning romantic feelings, divided between an enigmatic free spirit (Julian Sands) she meets on vacation in Florence and the priggish bookworm (Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back in the more corseted Surrey. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this gargantuan art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast–including.



The Film:

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by E.M. Forster, A Room with a View is a shining example of Merchant-Ivory's ability to achieve maximum quality and opulence at minimum cost. Set during the Edwardian Era, the film stars Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch, who like all proper young British ladies is compelled to tour Europe in the company of an older chaperone -- in this instance, her spinster cousin Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith). While in Italy, the ladies make the acquaintance of a wide variety of personalities; the most fascinating of their fellow tourists -- at least in Lucy's eyes -- is free-spirited George Emerson (Julian Sands). Aware that her cousin is becoming too familiar with Emerson, Charlotte demands that Lucy return to England posthaste. Lucy complacently settles for the tiresomely traditional courtship of nerdish Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) -- and then Mr. Emerson moves into the neighborhood. Lucy now finds herself on the horns of a dilemma: Should she opt for a safe, proper marriage to Cecil, or the bohemian unpredictability of the charismatic Emerson? A winner of three Academy Awards, A Room with a View is not what one could call fast-moving, but fans of the Merchant-Ivory team will enjoy luxuriating in the film's leisurely pace and stimulating cast of characters.

Excerpt from MRQEs located HERE

Hard on the heels of David Lean's grandiose, touristic version of EM Forster's A Passage to India, the Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala team get the scale of Forster's vision down to its right size. The story of the awakening of young Lucy (Bonham Carter), thanks to the liberating effect of the Tuscan countryside and the Latin temperament, is translated with perfect judgment, with the only lapses occurring over Forster's wry sense of humour. His satiric judgments can too often become arch: the 'grotesquely' illustrated intertitles here are a miscalculation of this order. None the less, in line with Forster's dicta on 'fully rounded characters', there is a fine gallery here; and the 'tea tabling' effect of the Home Counties upon grand emotion, from an era when dynastic families could topple over a single kiss, is mapped out with perfect precision. Decent, honest, truthful and, dearest of all to Forster, it connects.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

A Room With a View looks very impressive on Blu-ray from Criterion. The transfer is advertised as being a "new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director James Ivory and cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts".  This is dual-layered with a max'ed-out bitrate and beautifully supports the film's textures. Colors are rich and full, contrast is pristine and there are many instances of depth. I can't imagine it looking any better. Blu-ray soon. It is in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and detail in close-ups looks strong. This Blu-ray has no discernable flaws and supplies a wonderful 1080P presentation.

















Audio :

Criterion use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo at 2114 kbps (24-bit). It sounds wonderful with the score by Richard Robbins (Howards End, Heat and Dust) as well as supplemental music by Giacomo Puccini and Lucy Ashton's Song sung by Helena Bonham Carter. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

Criterion include 2 new documentaries, produced by them. The first is Thought and Passion and runs 22-minutes featuring director James Ivory, cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts and costume-designer John Bright discussing the production of A Room With a View. The second documentary is The Eternal Yes and runs 36-minutes with Helena Bonham Carter, Simon Callow, and Julian Sands. There is also a brief 4-minute segment about Merchant Ivory Productions from a 1987 episode of NBC Nightly News and a trailer. The package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film critic and author John Pymh.



A Room With a View may be the most accessible of all the Merchant Ivory efforts. In fact, in Ismail Merchant's autobiography he states that 1985's A Room with a View was "the film that catapulted us (he, James Ivory and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala) from the art house to the multiplex." It's such a visually attractive film and exports a light-hearted, carefree attitude. The performances are amazing. This is close to a masterpiece and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers a fabulous a/v presentation with new, important, extras. This is very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 5th, 2015


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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