The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day is a 1993 drama film adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the Man Booker Prize (Fiction-1989) novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, Mike Nichols and John Calley. It starred Anthony Hopkins as Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton with James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant and Ben Chaplin.
The protagonist is butler Stevens who narrates the story in first person. At the superficial level, the narration is about 'too much of dedication' for work at the loss of personal relations (Butler prioritizes his work against dying father and fails to reciprocate the love for which he longs in old age). The layered narration can be read as postcolonial narrative written by Japanese-English writer who narrates the readiness of servant class for subjugation to upper class and it is so internalized that even if the 'Master' changed to an American instead of an English man, the 'serventhood' of Stevens the Butler is unflinching. The last scene of the film shows a pigeon trapped in mansion. The window is opened and the new American Master flies away the bird and with it the camera flies sway in the clouds - showing us the large Mansion as a sort of cage, and it get tinier as camera flies higher - within which Stevens is 'happily' trapped / prisoned.
The other layer is much deeper. The background is that of 1930s - the beginning of WWII. It is significant to know how something we are so proud of at a given moment of time in history turns out to be something we are utterly ashamed of. The Nazi sympathizer rich elite British aristocrats are presented of whom the servant class was once very proud of but where ashamed of it in the verge of the unfolding of the events in history.
How symbolically Ishiguro signifies the entrapment of time and history! What so ever class one belongs to - the imprisonment of time and history is terrible. The remains of the 'time' is what remains with us to torment us and we have to live with it. There is no escape from the remains of the time.
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