The Merchant Ivory Collection is coming to DVD with the launch of the first three titles on 27th May: - The Bostonians (1984), Shakespeare Wallah (1965) and The Europeans (1979). Over a period of time nineteen of Merchant Ivory’s best known works will be released which will build to make one of the most covetable collections out on DVD. Each DVD will have a RRP of Ł19.99.
With James Ivory directing and Ismail Merchant as producer (and occasional director), coupled with the screenwriting talents of longtime collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the Oscar and multi-award winning trio have become renowned for their epic and visually stunning films since they formed their production company in 1961. There include such illustrious titles as Heat and Dust, Maurice, Howard’s End, Jefferson in Paris, A Room with a View and Remains of the Day.
The BostoniansStarring Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve and Jessica Tandy the film based on a Henry James novel, is set in the aftermath of the American Civil War. This is the story of spinster Olive Chancellor, a leading light in the women’s movement, who forges a close relationship wit the charismatic Verena Tarrant in the hope that she will prove an inspirational force in her campaign. Their friendship is put to the test by the arrival of Olive’s distant cousin, the handsome Basil Ransom, who urges Verena to give up her idealistic lifestyle for one of love, passion and marriage.
Shakespeare WallahFeaturing the very first screen performance of an eighteen-year-old Felicity Kendall, the film revolves round one of Merchant Ivory’s recurring themes, the clash of cultures. Lizzie, a member of a travelling theatre company falls for the charms of Sanju, a wealthy Indian playboy. Their relationship however is thwarted not only by the differences in their backgrounds but by the fact that tempestuous Indian cinema star Manjula is also in love with him. The inspiration for the film came from the adventures of Felicity Kendall’s real-life family who travelled throughout India with their theatre troupe and who also star in the film – parents Geoffrey Kendall and Laurel Liddel and sister Jennifer Kendall. The film also stars Shashi Kapoor and Madhur Jaffrey who won the best actress award for her performance at the Berlin Film Festival.
The EuropeansBased, once again, on a Henry James novel, this delightful and witty comedy of manners set in 19th century Boston, stars Lee Remick, Robin Ellis and Lisa Eichhorn. Once again charting the clash between two different cultures, the film follows the story of Eugenia, Baroness Munster and her brother Felix who leave Europe to live with their American country cousins. Before long Felix has fallen for the charms of Gertrude whilst Eugenia embarks on a doomed romance with Robert Acton, the district’s most eligible bachelor.