Merchant Ivory’s ‘Maurice’ in Berlinale Classics
Five of the seven restored versions screening in Berlinale Classics will be celebrating their world premiere. In addition to the films from Germany, Israel and Mexico, the section will include four additional restored versions of international classics, by Woody Allen, James Cameron, James Ivory and George A. Romero.
Among these classics is the critically acclaimed Merchant Ivory production ‘Maurice’ (1987). Few collaborations are so distinctive that the names of those involved come to denote a whole genre, rather than just a credit. The dynamic duo of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant delivered wonderful films for over 40 years, until Merchant’s passing in 2005. It’s almost a miracle that Merchant succeeded as an independent producer in Hollywood for more than 40 years. His strength lay in his ability to produce films for several million dollars less than those of his contemporaries.
‘Maurice’ won three awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival, for director James Ivory, and the lead actors James Wilby and Hugh Grant. The film is based on the eponymous book by E.M. Forster and tells the story of a homosexual attraction. At the centre of the tale is young Cambridge graduate Maurice Hall, who must fight to realise his dreams in the puritanical England of the early 20th century. The restoration, by the Cohen Media Group, used a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Director James Ivory gave the nod to the digitally restored version of his film, and cinematographer Pierre Lhomme supervised the colour correction.