The Age of Innocence

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  • Post last modified:October 21, 2020
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IN A WORLD OF TRADITION. IN AN AGE OF INNOCENCE. THEY DARED TO BREAK THE RULES.

In 1870s New York, lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is set to marry the young and innocent May Welland (Winona Ryder), but becomes fascinated by a troubled countess (Michelle Pfeiffer). Perhaps it was difficult to imagine Martin Scorsese making a romantic costume drama after GoodFellas and Cape Fear, but he knows how to spot the ingredients in any genre that will appeal to him. Technically speaking, this is an enchanting experience – the food, locations, costumes and Elmer Bernstein’s music are all gorgeous. The story addresses a discreet kind of war between classes, but also the value of different types of love. Not an emotional knockout, but well worth a look.

1993-U.S. 133 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Barbara De Fina. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese. Novel: Edith Wharton. Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus. Music: Elmer Bernstein. Production Design: Dante Ferretti. Costume Design: Gabriella Pescucci. Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis (Newland Archer), Michelle Pfeiffer (Ellen Olenska), Winona Ryder (May Welland), Richard E. Grant, Alec McCowen, Geraldine Chaplin… Mary Beth Hurt, Siân Phillips, Michael Gough, Norman Lloyd, Jonathan Pryce, Robert Sean Leonard. Narrated by Joanne Woodward.

Trivia: Scorsese and his parents have cameos; his father Charles died prior to the film’s release. The novel was previously filmed in 1924 and 1934.

Oscar: Best Costume Design. Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress (Ryder). BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress (Miriam Margolyes).

Last word: “In 1980, Jay gave me ‘The Age of Innocence’ and said, ‘When you do your costume piece, when you do your romance, this is you.’ Not meaning, of course, that I’m Archer or Ellen. It was the spirit of it – the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain. The idea that the mere touching of a woman’s hand would suffice. The idea that seeing her across the room would keep him alive for another year. That’s something I guess that is part of me. He knew me, by that time, fairly well.” (Scorsese, RogerEbert.com)

 

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