By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
British literature has always been a popular subject for filmmakers. Popular period pieces include adaptations of Jane Austen novels like Pride and Prejudice as well as the Best Picture winner The King’s Speech in 2010. Part of the specialness of British period dramas is that such films can take ideas from British society and make them appeal to worldwide audiences. Needless to say, the film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day is a brilliant look into the lives of people within a social hierarchy that reiterates the fact that people must value the lives that they have.
The film has brilliant performances, a great screenplay, and outstanding artistic merit. It actually received eight Academy Award nominations even though it ultimately, and unfortunately, won nothing. In spite of that deficit, the film is still a beautiful examination of relationships because of Mr. Stevens’s (Anthony Hopkins) connection to his father as well as Miss Kenton, played by Emma Thompson. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson both deliver strong performances even though they had already won their Oscars prior to the making of this film. In fact, Hopkins won for The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 while Thompson won the following year for Howards End. Interestingly, Hopkins presented Emma Thompson Academy Awards twice when she won for playing Margaret Schlegel in Howards End and when she won again for writing the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility a few years later.
Thematically, Kazuo Ishiguro wrote about regret and loss in a novel that earned him the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 1989. The film does the same, but Ruth Prawer Jhabvala masterfully adapts the novel to remind audiences to treasure the lives that they have. The title essentially means that people must express gratitude throughout the remains of their own personal days. The novel and film are also similar to Mary Robinson’s poem “Ode to Beauty,” all of which serve as reminders that nothing lasts forever. Some audiences might not understand some of the historical background in which the film takes place, which includes references to World War II, but it does reveal to all how life is too short to wallow away in regret.
There is a famous quote that compares worrying to being in a rocking-chair, and it means that both of these activities give a person something to do, but neither of them will get that person anywhere. Therefore, The Remains of the Day emphasizes the famous line from Dead Poets Society, which is the Latin phrase “Carpe diem”, which means “seize the day.”
The Remains of the Day (1993) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever food appears on screen.
Take a Drink: whenever Anthony Hopkins or Emma Thompson use the phrase “very tired.”
Drink a Shot: anytime that any of the characters say the name “Darlington.”