Trippin’ at Howards End?

ImagePhoto:           Article by Mrs T

Howards End was nominated for nine Oscars in 1993. It won three – best actress (Emma Thompson), best adapted screenplay (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala) and best art direction (Luciana Arrighi and Ian Whittaker). But – amid all the acclaim, did anyone notice how trippy it is?

  1. We’re in a music hall listening to a lecture on “music and meaning”. The man tells us the third movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony gives a clear image of goblins. The goblins represent negation, he says. Someone else says they can see elephants.
  1. Again and again we’re with Leonard Bast in the woods – sunlight, a forest floor of bluebells and a voice speaking poetry.
  1. Vanessa Redgrave (“Mrs. Wilcox”) is the heart of the Trip. It is her Trip. Every line she delivers comes from somewhere beyond. She glides around outside the cottage, murmuring to herself, looking into the house as her family, warmly lit, play some domestic scene – and the domestic scene feels ethereal.
  1. When Margaret first comes to Howards End she enters alone and the old maid appears out of nowhere from upstairs. It’s like something from a horror film but in this context, it’s dreamlike. And what does she tell Margaret? That she mistook her for Mrs Wilcox. Yes, she’s trippin’ too.
  1. The vast luxurious houses of the Wilcoxes make for intense visual pleasure.
  1. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson discuss Mr. Wilcox’s past affair with Mrs. Bast in Cyprus. The editing is weird. Stop start. Fade in and out. It calls out for a Pink Floyd soundtrack.

The trip comes complete with beauty, surrealism, symbolism, musical backdrop and a feeling of events running their course beyond the control or desire of the protagonists. And as with most trips it has a horrible come down – with a murder, a trial, and the birth of an Edwardian demon: The Illegitimate Child!

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