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The Remains of the Day: Film and Novel

“The Remains of the Day” is the third novel by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro Japanese descent, which was published in 1989. This book is the life story of English butler, who worked in a very noble house. The hero tells about his traveling through England, enjoying the scenery, how he meets people, gives his ideas, reflections and meditation : “The English landscape at its finest—such as I saw this morning—possesses a quality that the landscapes of other nations, however more superficially dramatic, inevitably fail to possess. It is, I believe, a quality that will mark out the English landscape to any objective observer as the most deeply satisfying in the world, and this quality is probably best summed up by the term ‘greatness.’ … And yet what precisely is this greatness? … I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.” (Ishiguro 1990)

“Remains of the Day” is a surprisingly multi-faceted book: it is a dramatic story-monologue, and a historical novel that shows the political picture of Europe between the World wars, and a guide to the nuances of English life, and even a book about the hard work of the servant, who says that: “ I don’t believe a man can consider himself fully content until he has done all he can to be of service to his employer” (Ishiguro 1990)
It is also necessary to speak about filmed adaptation of the book, made by James Ivory, with Anthony Hopkins in the title role. It is considered as a good adaptation of the book, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Initially, the picture seems too “slow” and meditative, but if you read the book it becomes clear that the film is more dynamic than the novel. Inner experiences, memories occupy more space in the book than the dynamics of the plot, and director of the film also follows this principle. But the lack of dynamics in the film is compensated with surprisingly believable atmosphere, enchanting music, exquisite interiors and picturesque views of truly English estates. This is an indisputable advantage of the film over the book.

It can be said that “At the end of the day” is an amazing movie. It very accurately retells the novel of Kazuo Ishiguro, and surprising that the static image does not seems dull, and the movie does not seem lengthy, despite the lack of action. Of course, such impressive results were achieved thanks to the excellent acting of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, who embodied on-screen images of the butler Stevens and the housekeeper Miss Kenton, who was in love with Stevens. The most important advantage of the movie is certainly an actor play of Anthony Hopkins, who amazes with his talent.

But the main drawback of the film is the deviation of the main plot (the collapse of the era in the example of collapse of one person) in the direction of the long, uninteresting scenes of dinners with delegates from different countries, discussing the problems of the place of Germany in the political arena in the 30 years: “Do you have any idea of what sort of place the world is becoming all around you? The days when you could just act out of your noble instincts, are over. Europe has become the arena of real politik, the politics of reality.”

In conclusion it can be said that “The Remains of the Day” films looks “grand without being overdressed, it is full of feeling without being sentimental”. (Canby, 1993)


Works cited:

Canby W. “The Remains of the Day (1993)”. The New York Times, November 5, 1993
Ishiguro K. “The remains of the day”. Vintage; 1990