The Age of Innocence (1993)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 1993, .  Screenplay by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Martin Scorsese, the man most famous for giving gangsters a loud, cinematic voice, has done the unthinkable with Edith Wharton’s novel: he has made one of the most elegant film ever created. Out-costuming the Merchant Ivory team, he’s taken the starch out of period dramas and perfectly translates Wharton’s writing on two important levels: having key passages from the book directly narrated (so languidly) by , and visually translating Wharton’s sentiments with his camera movements and Thelma Schoonmaker’s skillful editing. The story centres on the life of Newland Archer (), a young member of the New York upper set in the 1870s, who has the affluent life anyone in his position should have. He is a successful lawyer, he owns a beautiful home, and is just recently engaged to the beautiful and, ahem, proper May Welland (). Upon announcing his engagement, he meets for the first time since childhood May’s cousin, Countess Olenska (), who has just returned from Europe after leaving her abusive Polish Count husband. It is soon obvious that Archer and Countess Olenska are locked in a passion that is practically deadly in the watchdog society they live in. Archer must decide if he will play by the rules and enjoy a comfortable life, or pursue his heart and risk doom.

The Criterion Collection:  #913

Academy Award:  Best Costume Design
Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Winona Ryder); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Art Direction; Best Original Score

Golden Globe Award:  Best Supporting Actress (Winona Ryder)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actress-Drama (Michelle Pfeiffer); Best Director (Martin Scorsese)

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