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Romance a Producer's DVD Labor of Love

6 Apr, 2004 By: Stephanie Prange

The 1986 Oscar-winner A Room With a View, produced by the acclaimed team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, arrives in a lavish two-disc special edition from BBC Video this week, with considerable input from the renowned production team.

“Our involvement has always been very active,” said Merchant. “That's why we are where we are.”

Merchant considers vintage television interviews with the film's actors a great highlight of the extras on the release.He recalled that Daniel Day-Lewis, who played the uptight fianc? Cecil, surprised many with his acting range the year the film came out. “He played such a different kind of part [from previous roles],” Merchant noted.

Also included among the extras is a “BBC Biography” of E.M. Forster, who wrote the novel on which the film was based.

“E.M. Forster is one of the greatest writers in British literature,” Merchant said. “We wanted to not only educate people, but to give information to people.”

The DVD set also includes a commentary track with Merchant, Ivory and star Simon Callow. “I prefer to talk about how the project came about [during commentaries], what it means connecting with the audience,” Merchant said.

One way the producers were most surprised by the film's connection with the audience was in its hidden humor, which blossomed during screenings. “People just didn't stop laughing,” Merchant said.

Among the extras is a 30th anniversary tribute to the Merchant Ivory team, which also produced such acclaimed films as Remains of the Day and Howard's End.

“We are the godfathers of independent cinema,” Merchant said, adding that, though Room With a View is almost 20 years old, it should have “even more appeal because films like this are not made [now].”

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