Ugh, That Howards End Remake Is Happening

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Just because Hollywood, the BBC, ITV, Starz, and every other film/TV production vehicle loves the crap out of remakes doesn’t mean I have to. Especially when they remake things I consider practically perfect in the first place. So I was not happy to see these behind-the-scenes photos from the upcoming 2017 TV miniseries remake of Howards End starring Hayley Atwell as Emma Thompson Margaret Schlegel, Philippa Coulthard as Helena Bonham Carter Helen Schlegel, and Matthew Macfadyen as Anthony Hopkins Henry Wilcox.

The 1992 film of Howards End is easily one of my favorite films ever. I saw this movie in theater and it had a profound affect on me. I’ve probably watched it at least once a year since then. I had read the novel before and a few times since. “Only connect,” yes! This film is both accurate to the book and stands alone as a vivid work of art. So, no, I don’t need another one. Maybe you do. Rock on with these pix then, but don’t expect a review from me that doesn’t include endless comparisons to how brilliant Thompson, Bonham Carter, Hopkins, et. al., were or Jenny Bevan and John Bright’s costuming was.

Howards End (2017)

This is the only official photo that’s been released. I am underwhelmed.

Howards End (1992)

Let’s compare with a scene from the original 1992 movie — here, Emma Thompson’s wearing a fabulously detailed ivory suit and stunning hat.

Howards End (1992)

Will we see this level of detail in the new version? Jenny Beavan & John Bright were nominated for an Oscar for this work.

Howards End (2017)

For comparison, Hayley Atwell posted this behind-the-scenes pic of herself on Instagram. The blouse would look better if the sleeve was finished.

Howards End (2017)

Hayley Atwell outside what I swear is the same doorway in London every recent British historical production has used. Can someone local confirm this for me?

Howards End (2017)

I dislike everything about this outfit except for the tiny leather purse. This just looks like she’s walking down the street in any big city circa 2017. It doesn’t look historical, just maybe a tiny touch quirky.

Howards End (2017)

The so-called Schlegel sisters. And WTF is on Philippa Coulthard’s head?

Howards End (2017)

Matthew Macfadyen is always a big “MEH” for me. I hear some of you like him, so fine, whatevs, I hope you’re satisfied with this.

Howards End (2017)

More meh. By the sea.

Howards End (2017)

I’m SO not getting a Helena Bohnam Carter vibe here.

Howards End (1992)

I mean, really.

Howards End (2017)

THAT FUCKING HAT.

Mary Tyler Moore Show

 

Are you as offended by this Howards End remake as I am?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

52 Responses

    • Jennifer L. Schillig

      Exactly…I think there’s a difference between a “remake” of a movie and another “adaptation” of a pre-existing source (novel, play, musical). If we were only allowed one adaptation of a work apiece, the only filmed Wizard of Oz we’d be left with would be that awful silent one from 1925! (Well, there may have been an earlier silent one, but the 1925 one is the most vivid one I can remember–partly because it was an extra on the deluxe DVD, partly because it made such a mishmash of the story, partly because it had a cringeworthy racial stereotype.)

      Reply
  1. Maria D.

    I am shocked that they would even dare to make a remake of Howard’s End – like you stated it was already a perfect film. Matthew Macfadyen is an okay actor but he is not right for this part – and I’m not at all impressed by the actresses chosen. The costuming looks terrible from what I’ve seen – I’m with you on the hat – and there is no way that the age difference between the two leads is correct – they look almost the same age …ugh…I hate remakes that aren’t necessary or wanted

    Reply
  2. Donna

    Sometimes re-makes work … the Bogart Maltese Falcon was the third time that film was made. But that is the exception, not the rule. You’re right that the Thompson Hopkins Howards End does not need to be re-made.

    Reply
  3. Kim S.

    Has the original been out more than 50 years? No. Is it science fiction that could benefit from newer technology? No. Then why a remake? Were there historical inaccuracies or such in the original? We’re the original costumes so bad audiences laughed? Again, there is no need unless you’re going to improve some aspect, or going for a “let’s turn this upside down” approach.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Mahon

    I feel the same way about this remake as I did about the remake of a ROOM WITH A VIEW and BRIDESHEAD REVISITED. Why? Both the original takes were perfection. The original Brideshead actually got me to read Evelyn Waugh because I couldn’t wait for the next episode of the series, so I read the book. And who can compare to Julian Sands and Helena Bonham Carter in A ROOM WITH A VIEW? Not to mention Daniel Day-Lewis? If they want to remake something, they can remake Maurice. Or trying adapting OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      Just don’t let anyone think a remake of Citizen Kane is a good idea.

      Reply
    • Nina

      Ohhh BRIDESHEAD REVISITED! I loved the original series so, so much. In contrast, I hated the remake so, so much. It felt forced, and there were some very cringey changes. F.ex. in the original, during dinner the Flytes ask Charles about his stance on religion, and he says he is agnostic. In the movie, he declares: “I’m an atheist!” and doesn’t back down when the matron chides him, “agnostic, surely?” It felt like the new version tried to heavy handedly force some points for, I don’t know, clarity? So that the audience will understand for sure? I mean, even the gay was better in the original. I love Maurice to death as well, but I would survive its remake (I do like Merchant Ivory in general, and the costumes were also Jenny Beavan) if it was as good… at least it could be more widely released then.

      Reply
  5. picasso Manu

    The hats hide the lack of hairpins, I’m sure.
    And for Chrissake, close the damn coats, you’re in public!

    Another unnecessary thing… Well, I suppose as long as they’ll make money out of it, the remake epidemic is not likely to stop…big sigh

    Reply
  6. Johnny

    Oh dear I looked up the costume designer for this and it’s Sheena Napier who designed Enchanted April same year when Howards End was released.

    Reply
  7. twodeadqueens

    It’s not a ‘remake’. Merchant / Ivory didn’t write Howards End – they adapted a novel which has been adapted before (the BBC made one in the 1970s with the great Glenda Jackson) and it will be again. The screenwriter has just won an Oscar so expectations for this are high, and the casting is very interesting. I’m looking forward to it (btw, I’m not a fan of the Merchant/Ivory version). The production and graphic designers’ pics on Instagram look wonderful, though I’m not keen on the gingham.

    Reply
      • twodeadqueens

        It’s another adaptation of a novel that came out in 1910. Wikipedia: “The term “remake” is generally used in reference to a movie which uses an earlier movie as the main source material”.

        Hayley Atwell has been excellent in some of the things I’ve seen her in – check out her recent Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’, and the one with Alex Lawther, who’ll be Tibby – both tours de force. Joseph Quinn (Leonard Bast) is the best new actor I’ve seen recently and I’ve been badgering friends to go and see him on stage “We did – heartbreaking!” – if you’d persevered with ‘Dickensian’ you’d see what I mean. My only issue with Matthew MacFadyen is that he’s a bit too young and more obviously physically attractive which might alter the novel’s dynamic. There’s a young BAME actress playing Jacky, which also suggests an interesting dynamic politically. It’s an interesting, flawed novel that’s provided a rich seam for academics, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they make of it!

        Reply
          • twodeadqueens

            They’re not going to erase the Merchant / Ivory version – it’s just had a big 25th anniversary re-release with screenings this week etc.. Several interpretations can co-exist. The Merchant / Ivory film is not the ‘book in my head’, though film adaptations rarely are (Lord of the Rings is one of the few times I thought, yes! – and then he ruined it with the elongated Hobbit).

            Reply
            • Trystan L. Bass

              If we review it here, I predict either a one-liner yawn review or full-on Snark Week. They’re not improving on the costumes or the actors, so there’s zero point for this remake.

              Reply
              • twodeadqueens

                The costumes don’t look amazing, the production design and locations do, the actors whose work I’m familiar with are excellent, Lonergan is a better screenwriter than M/E’s rather plodding one, and as it’s a book about the patronising and damaging attitudes of the wealthy 1% to those less privileged I think politically it’s an interesting book to be revisiting right now. I was re-reading John Carey’s The Intellectuals and the Masses in the light of recent political events when this new adaptation was announced, and that book has plenty to say about Howards End and other works of the period.

                Reply
                  • twodeadqueens

                    I may do that with the new adaptation – but why don’t you wait and see it before condemning it? They haven’t even finished filming it yet! There are many things I’ve sat down to watch with high expectations and hated, and equally many things I’ve expected to loathe and ended up loving.

                    Reply
  8. twodeadqueens

    Btw, I think the recent adaptation of Brideshead Revisited was better than the turgid Granada TV series, too – the latter had a great supporting cast but the two leads were wooden and the pace interminable. Go on, admit it, the only episodes that you really like are the Oxford and Venice ones and the scenes with Anthony Blanche.

    Reply
    • Kate D

      I haven’t seen the new Brideshead Revisited, but I adore the Anthony Andrews miniseries. I’ve seen it four times all the way through in the last year and a half. It’s just perfect. It is the book. I’ve never seen such a faithful adaptation of a book… ever. I have a hard time imagining how that story with its luxurious pacing could be crammed into a standard movie length, but I guess I should watch the 2008 one sometime and give it a chance.

      Anthony Blanche does steal the show in the miniseries whenever he’s on screen. That eye roll! Ha! I impersonate him as often as possible.

      Reply
      • twodeadqueens

        Do seek it out! I prefer Ben Whishaw’s Sebastian – he has such captivating fragility, and the dynamic with his mother seems much darker and more intense.

        Reply
      • Nicola

        I agree; the Granada Brideshead is rhe best adaptation of a novel I’ve ever seen. It preserved the tone and atmosphere of the book so well.

        Reply
    • KayHay

      Well, 2dq, you’re just a little contrarian, aren’t you? The Granada series was gorgeous, mesmerizing, superbly acted, unforgettable. The movie was its poor country cousin. Much as I love Emma Thompson she was wrong, wrong, wrong for Lady Marchmain, for instance, her acting out at Julia’s deb party. NEVER would have happened. Claire Bloom was perfect: icy, implacable, eerily controlled. Gave me a chill. That said, I’ll watch the “remake” with clinical interest. But, really, why do they even bother?

      Reply
  9. Broughps

    Never having seen the Emma Thompson version and being a fan of MM, I’ll give it a try.

    Reply
  10. Charity

    The internet may collectively punch me in the face for knocking their beloved “Agent Carter” but… I’m kinda over Hayley Atwell and also with you on “MEH” MacFayden. They’re fine actors, but I just… eh.

    Can you beat Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Anthony (Hannibal Lecter) Hopkins? I think not.

    Reply
  11. M

    I wouldn’t call an adaptation a remake, that would be like calling every single pride and prejudice movie after, what 1938(?) a remake.

    And if this new movie is a remake, then the 1992 version of Howards End is as well since there was another adaption in 1970.

    I’m not gonna say anything about the quality, since I haven’t read the book or watched the movie/series yet.

    Reply
  12. Emma Bull

    Suffragists are dowdy and dress as if they chose their outfits in the dark. Everyone knows that. eyeroll (And geez, bright red hat/rust-colored coat/bright blue vest/tan gloves/black boots that need a good clean–what is this, a badly-designed kaleidoscope?)

    Reply
  13. Kristina

    This adaptation is going to be a miniseries, so the filmmakers may be able to go into more depth than the Merchant Ivory crew did in their 140-minute movie. On the other hand, the additional running time could turn the story into a tedious slog. (In contrast, the 1990s film has excellent pacing, IMO, and doesn’t seem particularly long.) We shall see. ;)

    One issue that I’m surprised isn’t getting more attention is the casting of very attractive women as Margaret Schlegel. This is a description of Margaret in the book: “Her figure was meagre, her face seemed all teeth and eyes…” (Ch. 4). I have never had the impression that she is meant to be a physically beautiful woman, yet she is played by conventionally pretty actresses like Emma Thompson and Hayley Atwell. Maybe this is similar to the situation with Jane Eyre adaptations, in which very handsome actors are routinely cast as Edward Rochester. As long as the acting is good, I am willing to cut a production some slack, but it is interesting to me that audiences tend to complain about actors that they deem insufficiently attractive for their roles (e.g., poor Susannah Harker as Jane Bennet), but seldom care when the opposite situation occurs.

    Anyway, I agree that the costumes for this miniseries look fairly generic so far. I wonder if the costume budget was miniscule. On the other hand, I remember reading an article that mentioned how underpaid the Merchant Ivory production team was during the ’80s and ’90s, so, clearly, it is possible to make gorgeous costumes on a tight budget, if the need arises.

    Reply
    • twodeadqueens

      In the 1970s the BBC used some original period clothing in their productions, or cannibalised lace and other trimmings, so it may be that Merchant Ivory were able to do something similar. It’d be too fragile now. There were also probably more skilled costumiers to draw on 25 – 30 years ago, people who trained mid-century. I saw some pics of MacFadyen in a coat yesterday and the shoulders didn’t seem to have the interior structure clothing of the period would have had.

      Reply
      • Marie McGowan Irving

        There was a touring exhibition of clothes from films actually landed near me, in the frozen NE of England. Myself and two friends did a road trip to see it, because it contained the red dress from Tess of the D’Urbervilles and the cornfield dress from RWAV and we were allowed to take pictures. I am presuming it was one of several, as is common in films, but it was in excellent condition. There is at least one lace manufacturer in the UK still producing lace on looms which were first used over 100 years ago, and reproduction lace is obtainable, as are quite large stocks of vintage lace. I would not venture a guess on whether the lace was original or modern without being allowed to handle it, which I was not.

        TL;DR at least one RWAV costume survives in excellent condition.

        Reply
  14. K.

    That’s a great knit hat for very casual late 1910’s, perhaps worn with one of those long belted cardigans that became popular then. Or with sportswear, for skating or something. I’ve seen casual snapshots of American college girls in the late teens wearing similar tams for reading on the dorm porch and snowball fights.

    As London streetwear with an open coat and a bright blue vest? Nah. A London housemaid on her day off would be ashamed to wear that. So would a factory worker, as well as a
    bohemian middle class woman with advanced ideas.

    Reply
  15. Susan Pola

    Sacrilege! A remake of Howard’s End is not necessary. The Merchant/Ivory movie is sheer perfection. Costumes are beautifully made, accurate and gorgeous. Acting is brilliant and timeless.
    I am a fan of MS Atwell, but her role IMHO as Elizabeth Foster was a tad more challenging and my favourite. If they want to remake a film, why not Shakespeare Wallah (although the original is 98% perfect) Scarlet Pimpernel or make Jo’s Boys.

    Reply
  16. ladylavinia1932

    I’m giving it a chance. One, I’ve always liked Hayley Atwell and Matthew McFadyen. And two, this will be a four-part adaptation and not a ninety-three minute production, like the 2007 adaptation of “A Room With a View”.

    Reply
  17. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I’m not feeling the walking suits the girls are wearing. To me they look very Eliza Doolittle before from My Fair Lady. I am not going to slam the leads but let’s be honest, comparing the work these two different sets of actors is like comparing the difference in performances from the 1950’s At Star is Born with Judy Garland to the 1970’s version with Barbara Striesand. Before I get Um actually’d, I know that the 1950’s version was a remake of a silent film.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      The 1950s A Star Is Born was a remake of the original 1937 film with Janet Gaynor, which was not a silent picture. And yet another new version—with Bradley Cooper—is on the horizon, with release slated for next year.

      Reply
  18. janette

    That is exactly how I felt about War and Peace last year. There are so many great books crying out for adaptations or great books that have been poorly adapted but those who make the decisions want safe, to redo something that has already proven itself rather than try something new.

    Reply
    • twodeadqueens

      There’s another Les Miserables in the offing, again scripted by Andrew Davies. I’ll watch it, but I’d rather they were adapting A Place of Greater Safety or These are the Times (a project on Tom Paine and the American and French revolutions by Richard Attenborough that he never managed to make). It’s been 25 years since the Merchant / Ivory adaptation, though, and I find their films stilted, even when compared to BBC period drama of the 80s or earlier.

      Reply
      • Joanne Renaud

        Ugh. Les Miserables again!? Back in 2015, I heard that they were going to adapt Place of Greater Safety, what with the success of Wolf Hall, but I haven’t heard anything about it for over a year. It might have been canned. I so don’t want to see a damn remake/new adaptation of Les Mizzzzzzzzzzzzz. I DON’T CARE

        Reply
  19. Karen K.

    I agree — the most recent Room with a View was a travesty — why mess with perfection? There are so many other books that haven’t been adapted in years (or EVER) so why mess with something so good? And poor Matthew MacFadyen, cast again in another iconic role where he’ll be compared to someone brilliant. He’s a good actor, but he’ll suffer in comparison. Also, he’s much too close in age to Hayley Atwell — there’s a big age difference between Margaret Schlegel and Henry Wilcox, who is supposed to have grown children!

    Reply
  20. ladylavinia1932

    The 2007 version of “A Room With a View” had a running time of 93 minutes. It really wasn’t long enough to do justice to the novel. This new version of “Howard’s End” will last through four episodes. Also, I don’t it’s a good idea to prejudge a first-rate actor like Matthew McFadyen. He just might surprise us.

    I gave the new “A Room With a View” a chance. Although it didn’t impress me, I gave it chance. I believe we should give “Howard’s End” a chance before judging it. There’s no law that states only one version of a novel can be made.

    Reply
  21. susan l eiffert

    That red scarf is straight out of Marshalls. I have never seen one of the period that looked anything like that, and I’ve seen many. The coat (same costume) wrong. Cut, buttons, trim, color just off. I do think that red cap ok though. I hate remakes too. Why bother if the original is perfect? Such conceit! Try something new we’ve never seen before!

    Reply
  22. ladylavinia1932

    Why are you guys so unwilling to give it a chance? The 1937 version of “A Star Is Born” was great. That didn’t stop Hollywood from making an equally good version in 1954. There are two great versions of “3:10 From Yuma”. And there are plenty of adaptations of six Jane Austen novels. And some of those adaptations are first-rate. What is this refusal to give a second adaptation of “Howard’s End” a chance? Why close off one’s mind like that?

    Reply
  23. Brandy Loutherback

    I don’t know how to feel about this. Hollywood has like maybe 2 new ideas, and the rest are just remakes/reboots/sequels. While I love Mary Poppins, just a sequel set 30 odd years later, I mean REALLY!

    Reply

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