Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maurice

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the film Maurice, which was released in the U.S. on September 18, 1987 (three days earlier in the U.K.).

I’ve already written—in the context of an earlier consideration of E. M. Forster—of my high regard for the vastly underrated Forster novel of which this film is a faithful adaptation. It’s difficult now to believe that the movie, which holds up splendidly, is already a quarter-century old, and even more difficult to believe that Forster composed the novel a century ago, in 1913-14. (He made important revisions to the manuscript decades later, in both the thirties and the fifties, before leaving it to its posthumous 1971 publication.)

A website called “Cinema Queer” features an excellent review essay about the film, with a number of stills. Though posted a few years ago, the essay is still relevant. Be forewarned, however: like many articles about this book and movie, it gives away the ending.

I read the book before I saw the film, and I began reading with no idea how the story might end. From the first page I thoroughly enjoyed it, but as I neared the final chapter it seemed to me impossible that Forster could resolve the plot in a way that would satisfy me. Ah, but he did—I won’t reveal how—and though the ending may not be to every reader’s taste, I regarded it (and still do) as brave, thrilling, and magnificent.

P.S. The film’s 2002 “Criterion Collection” two-disc DVD release contains a number of genuinely interesting extras, including deleted scenes and short documentaries. I particularly enjoyed the interview clips in which actors James Wilby, Hugh Grant, and Rupert Graves—the three charming and talented straight boys cast in this very gay drama—recall with pleasure the making of the film.

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