The Remains of the Day (film)
|The Remains of the Day|
|Edited by||Andrew Marcus|
|Box office||$63.9 million|
The Remains of the Day is a 1993 British-American-French-German
In 1958 post-war Britain, Stevens, the
The film flashes back to Kenton's arrival as housekeeper in the 1930s. The ever-efficient Stevens manages the household well, taking great pride in and deriving his entire identity from his profession. Miss Kenton, too, proves to be a valuable servant, and she is equally efficient and strong-willed, but also warmer and less repressed. Stevens and Kenton occasionally butt heads, particularly when she observes that Stevens' father (also a former butler) is in failing health and no longer able to perform his duties, which Stevens stubbornly refuses to acknowledge. Stevens' professional dedication is fully displayed when, while his father lies dying, he steadfastly continues his butler duties.
Relations between Stevens and Kenton eventually thaw, and it becomes clear she has feelings for him. Despite their proximity and shared purpose, Stevens' outward detachment remains unchanged; his first and only loyalty is to his service as Lord Darlington's butler. In a scene of agonized repression, Miss Kenton embarrasses Stevens when she catches him reading a book. Curious, she forces it out of his hand, and finds to her disappointment it is an ordinary romance novel; Stevens explains to Miss Kenton he was reading it only to improve his vocabulary, and asks her not to invade his private time again.
Meanwhile, Darlington Hall is regularly frequented by politicians of the
Darlington later meets Prime Minister
Lord Darlington's godson, journalist Reginald Cardinal, is appalled by the nature of the secret meetings in Darlington Hall. Concurring with Congressman Lewis' earlier protestations, Cardinal tells Stevens that Lord Darlington is a pawn, being used by the Nazis. Despite Cardinal's indignation, Stevens does not denounce or criticise his master, feeling it is not his place to judge his employer's honorable intentions, even if they are incorrect. Later, Lord Darlington expresses regret for having dismissed Ilsa and Irma, the two German-Jewish maids. He asks Stevens to locate them and Stevens questions Miss Kenton as to the maids' whereabouts. (It is revealed they had returned to Germany, but their ultimate fate is unknown.)
Eventually, Miss Kenton forms a relationship with a former co-worker, Tom Benn, who proposes marriage and asks Miss Kenton to move away with him to run a coastal boarding house. Miss Kenton mentions this proposal to Stevens, in effect offering him an ultimatum, but Stevens will not admit his feelings, offering Miss Kenton only his congratulations. Miss Kenton leaves Darlington Hall prior to the outbreak of the
En route to meeting Miss Kenton in 1958, when asked by locals about his former employer, Stevens at first denies having served or even having met Lord Darlington, but later admits to having served and respected him. He says that, while Lord Darlington was unable to correct his terrible error, he is now on his way in the hope that he can correct his own. He meets Miss Kenton (though separated, still Mrs. Benn), and they reminisce. Stevens mentions in conversation that Lord Darlington's godson, Reginald Cardinal, was killed in the war. He also says Lord Darlington died from a broken heart after the war, having sued a newspaper for
Miss Kenton declines Stevens's offer to return to Darlington Hall, wishing instead to remain near her grown daughter, whom she has just that day learned is pregnant. She also implies that she will go back to her husband, because, despite being unhappy in their marriage for many years, in all the world he needs her the most. As they part, Miss Kenton is emotional, while Stevens is still unable to demonstrate any feeling. Back in Darlington Hall, Lewis asks Stevens if he remembers much of the old days, to which Stevens replies that he was too busy serving. A pigeon then becomes trapped in the hall, and is eventually freed by the two men, leaving both Stevens and Darlington Hall far behind.