Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guest Post by Mariana: Movie Review of "The Remains of the Day"

So, I'd like to introduce you all to Mariana, she runs a wonderful blog called Gatochy's Blog. She usually posts about a variety of subjects, she always has interesting ideas, and she loves art, film, music... Today, she is writing a guest post here at my blog, it is a review of the movie "The Remains of the Day." Enjoy!

I accidentally caught a glimpse of 1993's "The Remains of the Day" on tv, and it made me realize a) why I hate it, and b) why Anthony Hopkins was picked to play Hannibal, the cold, psychotic criminal who eats people without raising his heart beat.

In "The Remains..." he's a stiff upper lip butler who works in a big mansion, and he has lots of employees under his charge, namely his own father and Emma Thompson, who is the housekeeper. In the IMDB page his character is defined as "A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years before World War II (and) realizes too late how misguided his loyalty has been." But that is so misleading. There is no supressed emotion here -- there is no emotion here. Sacrificing his humanity or common decency is not something that was ever asked of him, or something that simply came with the job. He chose to do away with them all on his own because he genuinely didn't need them. He's a silent, quiet monster.

Example: his father is sick, and dies in his bed while a dinner party is going on. It's up to Emma to see Anthony in private to give him the bad news. His retort goes something like: "I see" or "I understand". How about "Hmmm" eh, Anthony? Emma asks him if he would like to see the body. Anthony says he's busy now, girlfriend, he'll see it laters. He uses the word perhaps, perhaps later. Perhaps? You mean there's a chance he may choose to not see his father later in the day? Remember she is not exactly inviting him for tea and scones. Saying not at this very moment, thank you, perhaps later, is not the apropriate response.

Now Emma is in the horrible position of having to ask Anthony for permission to close his father's eyes, to which Anthony acquiesces. Put yourself in her shoes: here you are, working in a household, and someone dies. All of a sudden it's up to you to touch a dead body, to close the eyes of this man who is essentially a stranger to you, like so many other to-do items on your list: clean the stairways, wash the dishes, close Anthony's dead father's eyes.... Not cool, Anthony, not cool. But Anthony is all, yes please Emma, if you would be so kind, because I am rather busy right now as you can see, I don't have time to see my father for the last time. You'd think there were no other employees who could stand around looking stiff in his place. It's not that it was necessary to ask that of Emma, or that he had any right to do so, he simply doesn't care about people.

For me this character just goes to prove you don't have to be a raving lunatic who eats people to be creepy. Just being this cold, autistic, shockingly inappropriate person is more than enough. Remember the butler in "The Shining"? He was another one. All he had to do was stand there talking about how he had corrrrrrected his wife and kids and he made you shiver to the bone.

18 comments:

Sebastien said...

I still haven't seen the Silence of Lamb movies...

Really, I don't even think I've seen many of Hopkins' movies... it's funny how some people can be so cold, sometimes there are explanations for it, sometimes there aren't.

Zhu said...

Never heard of the movie... not surprising, I was 10 when it came out apparently !

I recently saw Hopkin in the Fracture, it was pretty good. Great actor.

Seb, lazy you, can't you post yourself ??? The maquiladoras of blog, didn't know this one ! ;-)))

Mariana said...

Oh, that's a great one, Hannibal is one of my favorite horror movie characters. He's one of those people who can make you feel violently uncomfortable without ever being rude or raising his voice, you know? And there's definitely no explanation for his psychosis, and that mystery is part of what makes him so interesting. Hopkins at his best. Thanks for posting my review, Sebastien!

Sebastien said...

Zhu: Hahaha, you crack me up! I didn't even know what maquiladora was (I googled it, haha!), and I like that, you made me laugh and learn something at the same time!

Mariana: Always appreciate your ideas and views so it's on honor to have you posting here!!!

MrManuel said...

I've never seen this, but my wife has and hated it. She wanted to yell at the characters the whole time she said...

sir jorge said...

This movie was better than I thought, but I usually don't admit that stuff..gotta keep the macho persona up.

Babybull40 said...

it was a sad and depressing movie.. I like Sir Anthony Hopkins but not so much in this movie.He played it better at being the bad guy.. in Hannibal

Greensleeves said...

Not sure I agree with your interpretation. Hopkins plays a very English character, reserved and painfully unable to show his emotions to the world. His retort in fact displays his vulnerable side, as he utters these words on hearing about his father's death not because he has no soul, but because he is afraid to expose it.
And it would have been expected of him not to run to see his father when he died, but continue with his duty.

I also strongly object to the use of the word "autistic". Autistic does not mean cold or unemotional.
Autistic spectrum is very wide, and autistic people can be very kind, loving and affectionate.

Sebastien said...

Mrmanuel: I can't remember the last movie I yelled at throughout, oh wait, Running with Scissors, that movie was very frustrating...

Sir Jorge: It's ok, we won't tell!!

Babybull: I need to see those movies!!!

Greensleeves: Thank you for visiting! I'll let Mariana answer your points, hopefully she'll get a chance. Using the word autistic is questionable, I agree, but I wanted to keep Mariana's post as she wrote it, so hopefully she will address her use of that word!

Greensleeves said...

Thanks Sebastien, Mariana is on my list of fave blogs, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything she says, lol.

Of course, you should keep it as she intended, it's just people who have no direct knowledge of autism have a vague idea what it is, probably based on "Rainman" with Dustin Hoffmann (an excellent film, but it's only one of the shades of the spectrum).

Sebastien said...

Great!!!

yellowdog granny said...

wow, great review... when anthony hopkins plays sympathetic roles..I
don't buy it..I think he has he really is a cold heartless bastid...

yellowdog granny said...

wow, great review... when anthony hopkins plays sympathetic roles..I
don't buy it..I think he has he really is a cold heartless bastid...

Sebastien said...

So glad you liked Mariana's review! I need to see some of his flicks, I really don't know why or how I could've never seen him in anything...

taarzaan said...

yay Mariana!!

Greensleeves said...

I keep thinking what movies Hopkins did, where he is different.
Have you ever seen "Human Stain"? There Hopkins is a professor in a small college town, actually filmed in Williamstown, MA, at the time when we lived there. The college itself is a way too liberal in real life for such a situation to occur, as happened in the film.

Sebastien said...

Taarzaan: Mariana rules!!!

Greensleeves: I've never even heard of that film! Interesting, I'm going to have to watch these different films, maybe start with this one you mention, hopefully Hopkins won't be as pernicious in that role...

Anonymous said...

I never show my emotions. Happy, mad or sad. Learned 2 B that way. Everyone is out 2 get U and feed off what they see so not even my parents know what I'm really thinking