In memory of Ismail Merchant ("A Room with a View")

Ismail Merchant of the famous Merchant/Ivory films (A Room with a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day) is dead at 68.

I always appreciated Merchant’s work. It was never flashy, sensationalized, or self-important. It was, primarily, cinema for book lovers. The string of the three aforementioned films was a memorable trio of excellent, at times brilliant, filmmaking, full of memorable performances and enthralling period detail.

More than anyone, they are responsible for revealing to us the true measure of the talents of Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, and Maggie Smith. They introduced me to my favorite actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, in what remains one of his greatest roles — Cecil, in A Room with a View. In the same film, Judy Dench showed that she could steal a show with a small supporting role. Denholm Elliott also delivered his most memorable performance in that film as Mr. Emerson.

Thank you, Mr. Merchant. Your work will be appreciated for ages to come, and you will be sorely missed by literature-philes at the movies.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.


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