Howards End (1992)

If you like period films you can’t miss Howards End. The film juxtaposes the emotional, intellectual Schlegel sisters against the materialistic Wilcox family, showing us the differing attitudes toward emerging class early in the century.

Emma won the Best Leading Actress Oscar for her performance, acting Margaret Schlegel, an open-minded intellectual, highly educated, who likes music, poetry, politic and intellectual discussions; she marries Henry Wilcox, a pragmatic, snobbish business man, becoming a class-conscious woman, but deeply she goes on musing about human nature.

She takes care of her younger and selfless sister, Helen, to whom Henry gives a cynic advice: “don’t take up a sentimental attitude towards the poor. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is!”

Margaret tries to make her husband a better man (and for me, beneath the icy surface, he owns a likeable side too).

The complexity of Margaret’s character with its many nuances lead us through Emma’s own path for the whole film, that’s why she deserved the Oscar: Howards End is Emma Thompson’s film from start to finish. Her charm fills the scene.

The following clip is about Henry’s proposal and Margaret’s excited and sweet reaction.

All is perfect: Henry’s piercing eyes, Margaret’s question about the ceiling heights to disguise her emotions, her hopeful eyes and her trembling gaze when she realizes that he is asking her to be his wife, the way she bites her lips saying “yes, I know, I know” walking off, the shy kiss, Henry’s hand touching slightly Margaret’s, the elegant way she goes down the stairs, the satisfied look on Henry’s face at the top of the stairs.

Their mimic and gestures, every movement, are studied in detail and yet everything is so natural.

It’s a stunning performance disguised as normal acting. Two hugely talented actors at their tops!

Henry’s proposal – Howards End

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