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.