Back to Howards End on Arte: why is the film so special in Emma Thompson’s career? – CineSeries

In 1993, Emma Thompson won the Oscar for Best Actress for “Return to Howards End”. The feature film takes off her career and offers her one of her first major roles, to which she remains deeply attached.

Back to Howards End : a vintage movie wonder signed James Ivory

After the success of Room with a view and Maurice, James Ivory signe a new adaptation of novelist EM Forster with Back to Howards End. For this feature film released in 1992, the American filmmaker works with his loyal collaborators, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The latter manages to build a limpid plot in the Edwardian era, dealing with the class struggle by focusing on characters from opposite backgrounds.

Among them is Margaret Schleguel (Emma Thompson), a progressive young woman living in London with her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her brother Tibby (Adrian Ross Magenty). She befriends Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave). Passing through the English capital, this neighbor evolves on the contrary in a conservative family. Despite their different opinions, they develop a strong mutual attachment.

Shortly before her death, Ruth Wilcox wrote a testamentary note. She writes that she wishes to bequeath to Margaret her residence called Howards End, a country house to which she is deeply attached. Disturbed by this unexpected desire, the widower Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) and his children refuse to cede the property. So they decide to hide this word.

Margaret Schleguel (Emma Thompson) – Back to Howards End © Carlotta Films

At the same time, Margaret and her sister Helen try to help the Basts. This extremely modest couple have an unexpected bond with the Wilcoxes, which they do not suspect. Things get complicated when Margaret and Henry get closer … Joseph Bennett, Prunella Scales and James Wilby complete the cast of this masterpiece magnified by the photography of Tony Pierce-Roberts.

Shattering beginnings

Evoking both the complicity that is withering between two sisters with modern ideals and the bourgeois contempt for the proletarians, in sublime pictorial settings, Back to Howards End is awarded three Oscars. At the 1993 ceremony, the drama returned with the statuettes for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Artistic Direction and Best Actress for Emma Thompson.

The feature film marks a milestone in the career of Margaret Schleguel’s interpreter. With Henry V and Dead Again, directed by his companion at the time Kenneth Branagh, the film offers him one of his first major roles. And his performance is unanimous. The star in the making wins absolutely all prices for which she is nominated, including a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

A powerful bond between Emma Thompson and Margaret

Emma Thompson has since shone in In the name of the father, Love Actually or the recent one Cruella. She won a second Oscar, that of Best Adapted Screenplay, for Reasons and feelings. The actress also signed the scripts for Nanny McPhee and Bridget Jones Baby.

After multiple successes, the one who also contributed to the saga Harry Potter by playing Sibylle Trelawney keeps a very strong bond with Back to Howards End. Asked by IndieWire in 2016, the actress remembers her need to lend her features to Margaret. James Ivory assures that Emma Thompson has got the role from the end of his audition. She did not fail to share her enthusiasm with him by mail. What the main interested party confirms, by telling:

It was the only time I wrote to someone to say, ‘I know how to interpret it, I know this woman so well.’ I felt exceptionally confident that I would be able to do it. That I was the right person. (…) If Margaret disagrees in some ways with pre-feminists, she chooses to go this route. (…) Forster saw the horrible condition in which women found themselves trapped.