Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Room With a View (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Room With a View (1985, UK)

In director James Ivory's elegant, typically-Edwardian, adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1908 novel - set at the turn of the century, told as a delightful comedy of errors tale and social satire of repressed Victorian romance and British conceit - with Forster's chapter headings as inter-titles:

  • the opening credits - classically presented with Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi, and its aria "O mio babbino caro" performed by Kiri Te Kanawa
  • the introduction of members of the Honeychurch family: proper, young, innocent, sheltered and buttoned-up Edwardian Miss Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter in a star-making role in her feature film debut), and her older, fussy spinster cousin Aunt Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) serving as her elderly chaperone; during their holiday in Italy where they had just arrived for a week-long tourist holiday-trip at the Pensione Bertolini, a hotel popular with other British tourists in Florence, Italy (the Tuscany region), Charlotte complained bitterly about the dark, north-facing alleyway view: "This is not at all what we were led to expect. I thought we were going to see the Arno"
  • the Pensione's hostess, Cockney Signora (Amanda Walker), had failed to provide 'view' windows of the Arno River for Aunt Charlotte's and Lucy's rooms, who were disappointed that they were put in North-facing rooms 'without a view'
  • that evening at the communal dinner table, they met vulgar, unconventional, free-thinking and very forward socialist Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) (with his intelligent handsome son, George Emerson (Julian Sands)) (later revealed to be a railway worker); George's intense introspective and existential approach to life was exemplified by his drawing a Question Mark symbol on his dinner plate and flashing it at Lucy
  • the Emersons volunteered to exchange their 'view' rooms with them; as he emphatically exclaimed: "Women like looking at a view. Men don't....It's ridiculous these niceties. They go against common sense. I don't care what I see outside. My vision is within! (He stabbed himself in the chest with his fork, for emphasis) Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!"
  • other guests staying at the Pensione included romance author Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), and two spinster sisters - the Misses Alan (Fabia Drake and Joan Henley); after the meal, overweight, boyish and cheerful Reverend Mr. Beebe (Simon Callow) appeared in the drawing room - he was the Honeychurch's newly-appointed vicar back at home; although Charlotte initially declined the generous offer of a room-switch due to her fear of being obligated to the Emersons, Rev. Beebe's functioning as an "intermediary" encouraged the move
  • upon awakening the next morning, Lucy flung open the room's window for a view of Florence's chiming Duomo; she took time to practice a Beethoven piece on the piano and then - feeling "peevish" - she took a stroll into town to view the interior of the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Peruzzi Chapel, where she happened to meet up with the Emersons; Mr. Emerson described to her his son's unhappy mood of intense "brooding" even though he had a fine upbringing: "He's very unhappy....What more is one to give him? And think how he has been brought up - free from all the superstition that leads men to hate one another in the name of God"; he petitioned her to help his son: "Make my boy realize that at the side of the everlasting WHY, there is a YES! And a YES and a YES!"
Lucy's Room-View
Lucy - Talented at the Piano Playing Beethoven
Lucy Touring in Florence
  • at the same time, Eleanor Lavish was touring another part of Florence's dark alleys with Charlotte, and when they became lost, Charlotte wasn't able to consult her guidebook (or Baedeker); Eleanor suggested being adventurous and then noted that Lucy was open "to physical sensation"; she claimed she had her eyes on the sheltered Lucy - whom she predicted would soon be transformed or experience a metamorphosis in Italy: "The young English girl transfigured by Italy, and why should she not be transfigured?"
  • in the Piazza della Signoria, Lucy heard bickering between two local men and witnessed the stabbing of one youth (Luigi Di Fiore) in front of her - and as she fainted, George (who also witnessed the murder) came to her aid by grabbing her in his arms as she fell; after being revived, Lucy asked George to retrieve her packet of postcards that she had just bought; he found them dripping in blood; meanwhile, the dead youth's bloody face was being washed clean in the Fountain of Neptune
  • confused by everything, Lucy apologized to George for her stunned reaction and "foolish behavior" and wanted to keep everything a secret; he tossed her bloodied envelope of pictures into the Arno River, and then spoke about how the violent altercation had fatefully changed both of them: "Something's happened to me. And to you"
  • a day trip and picnic was taken by the entire British group to view the Fiesole countryside; they were driven in two carriages led by a young Italian coachman (Peter Munt) and a flirtatious blonde female named Persephone (Isabella Celani) (who was claimed to be his sister) through the Tuscan landscape; when the puritanical Rev. Mr. Eager (Patrick Godfrey) ordered them to stop misbehaving by kissing, the girl was dropped by the side of the road; Mr. Emerson thought ending their romance was unfair: "Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?"
  • having arrived at the picnic site, the youthful and idealistic George climbed a small olive tree and cried out his "creed": "Beauty! Espoir! (Hope) Liberty! Trust! Joy! Beauty! Joy! Love!’ - until he fell from the branches; Mr. Emerson noted: "He's declaring the eternal YES!"
  • Lucy listened as the curmudgeonly Charlotte announced how the seating arrangement on a mackintosh square (on small blankets provided by Eleanor) wasn't really an issue for her, and she gave up her square to Lucy: "The ground will do for me. I have not had rheumatism for years, and if I feel a twinge, I shall stand up"
  • then, Lucy experienced the film's most crucial, emancipating incident - she left the group and was misdirected by the Coachman into a wheat barley field with poppies, where she found George gazing at the view by himself; Lucy was suddenly and unexpectedly approached and embraced by her intense free-spirited admirer and received an impetuous kiss
George's Impulsive Kiss in a Wheat Field
  • at first, Charlotte was upset to witness Lucy's spontaneous emotional act with an improper and undesirable suitor; she hurriedly assembled the group (except for George who wanted to walk) to leave the picnic and return by carriage, during an afternoon thunderstorm
  • later while vigorously brushing Lucy's hair, Charlotte feared - from past experience - that George would not keep silent ("I know he will talk") - but Lucy disagreed: "He will not. He never talks. One's lucky to get as much as a 'yes' or 'no' out of him"; Charlotte kept insisting: ("Unfortunately, I have met the type before. They seldom keep their exploits to themselves"); she spoke about Lucy's sheltered naivete: ("You are so young, and you've always lived among such nice people. You cannot realize what men can be. This afternoon, for example, if I had not arrived, what would have happened?...What would have happened if I had not appeared?"); Lucy wouldn't hypothesize: "You did appear" [Note: Charlotte's reactions revealed some of her own heartbreak from her guilt-ridden youth when she was reprimanded the same way and never found love (she had earlier stated: "I am a woman of the world, and I know where things can lead to").]
  • mostly, Charlotte feared that the incident would stain her reputation as a chaperone, and she would be blamed and judged by Mrs. Honeychurch as inadequate: ("I have failed in my duty to your mother. She will never forgive me when you tell her....She will certainly blame me when she hears of it. Certainly - and deservedly"); Lucy said she wouldn't tell: "Why need Mother hear of it?"; Charlotte made plans to swiftly leave the Pensione after only one-half of a week
  • upon returning home to the country town of Summer Street, in Surrey, new characters were introduced: Mrs. Marian Honeychurch (Rosemary Leach), Lucy's enthusiastic brother Freddy Honeychurch (Rupert Graves), and another of Lucy's suitors: prissy, dispassionate, self-possessed, uptight wealthy and aesthete gentleman Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) with a pince-nez
  • Cecil had just made a marriage proposal to Lucy in the garden, and she had accepted; he announced the news in Latin (and then translated): ("I promessi sposi," or "She has accepted me"); they were officially engaged during a formal afternoon garden tea party in town, and then walked back home; along the way at the site of a small pool known as Sacred Lake, Cecil politely asked for his first kiss, but then clumsily dislodged his pince-nez between their faces; as they uncomfortably continued, she had a momentary flashback of George kissing her in the field
  • later, Lucy learned from her brother Freddy that Mr. Emerson was moving into a rented villa on Summer Street nearby; and to her surprise and consternation, she heard from Cecil that he had played an unwanted, intervening role in their tenancy (she had arranged for the spinster sisters to rent the villa) - and that they were the same Emersons from Florence: "They had been to Italy. A father and son. The oddest couple"; and the son would be visiting during weekends with his father; Lucy suspected: "I've probably met them before"
  • while the Emersons were moving into the villa, Rev. Beebe and Freddy met them; they was invited to go for a "bathe" by Freddy - they strolled to the Sacred Lake pond, stripped down, and began to splash each other, cavort around, and then raced on foot around the pool; meanwhile, Lucy (with her mother and escorted by Cecil) came upon the all-male naked group out of the water (Rev. Beebe hid in the water); Freddy hid his nakedness behind a bush and complained: "You're treading on me!", as his mother asked: "Why not have a comfortable bath at home, dear, with hot and cold laid on - ?"; Lucy was simply amused and giggled at the whole incident
  • during a conversation with her mother, Lucy learned her true view of Cecil as a pretentious, condescending, upper-class snob: ("Must he sneer and spoil everyone's pleasure?")
  • the very proper and dignified Lucy faced a dilemma of having George living nearby (with her repressed sensuous passion emerging); the issue was multiplied when her brother Freddy became good friends with George and they made plans to play tennis together at Windy Corner (the Honeychurch property); the country-despising Cecil refused to play tennis with Lucy and instead preferred to walk around outdoors near the game while reading aloud from Eleanor Lavish's latest romance novel UNDER A LOGGIA - "A Romance Set in Italy"
  • during a foursome of tennis, Cecil walked around the perimeter with the book; afterwards, George was asked his opinion about the view by Lucy, and he answered: "My father says there's only one perfect view, and that's the view of the sky over our heads"
  • as Cecil read outloud from Chapter Two of the Lavish novel, Lucy immediately became suspicious when she recognized a literary scene identical to her romantic encounter with George in the barley field: ("Afar off, the towers of Florence. And she wandered as though in a dream through the wavering golden sea of barley, touched with crimson stains of poppies. All unobserved, he came to her....There came from his lips no wordy protestations such as formal lovers use. No eloquence was his, nor did he suffer from the lack of it. He simply enfolded her in his manly arms...")
  • as Lucy and George walked back to the house through the garden, George again impulsively grabbed Lucy and gave her a passionate kiss (the oblivious Cecil didn't notice)
  • realizing that Charlotte would be the only source to witness her kiss with George, Lucy confronted Charlotte and asked: "Do you know anything about Miss Lavish's novel? There was a scene in it - the hero and heroine make love. Do you know about that? Do you know about it? They're on a hillside and Florence is in the distance. There are poppies and a barley field. I can't believe it's a coincidence. Charlotte! How could you have told her?!"; obviously, Charlotte hadn't kept her word and had described the incident to Miss Lavish: (Lucy: "So you did tell. Why?! When you wouldn't even let me tell Mother?"); and then Lucy admitted that George had just given her a second kiss: "Cecil read it to me. And that man took the opportunity to insult me again behind Cecil's back"; Charlotte apologized: "Even if you forgive me, I shall never forgive myself, till my dying day"
  • in a dramatic scene (with Charlotte permitted to listen), Lucy decided to "deal with him" herself; she ordered George to leave and never come back: ("Go out of this house and don't come back into it again as long as I live here"); George daringly took the chance to firmly advise Lucy about her stoic, stuffy, cerebral, and rigid suitor Cecil who only wanted Lucy as a "possession" and could never love her: "You don't mean you're going to marry that man...I would have held back if your Cecil had been a different person. But he's the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn't know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn't want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn't love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms. (To Charlotte) Miss Bartlett. You wouldn't stop us this time, not if you understood. It's our last chance. Do you understand how lucky people are when they find what's right for them? It's such a blessing, don't you see?...This tremendous thing has happened between us, and what it means, let me explain, it means that nothing must hinder us ever again. That's what it means. You have to understand that...Everyone has to understand"; Lucy's reaction was unemotional and she seemed unmoved, and she firmly ordered him away; however, her heart, passion, and sexuality had been awakened internally
  • then outside with Cecil, Lucy made a defiant decision regarding her marital plans with him, when she observed the prissy, bookwormish Cecil rudely insisting that he couldn't play tennis with Freddy; later that evening, Lucy broke her betrothal engagement to Cecil when she announced the break-up was due to their incompatibility; Cecil first asked: "Because I wouldn't play tennis with Freddy?"; she answered him: "I'm sorry, Cecil, I can't marry you, and one day you'll thank me for saying so. We're too different"; she claimed she thought she had loved him at first but was mistaken, and that his love wasn't real either: "As for your loving me, no you don't, Cecil, not really. You don't. It's only as something else. As something you own. A painting, a Leonardo. I don't want to be a Leonardo, I want to be myself"
  • Cecil responded by inquiring: "You don't love me, evidently. I dare say you're right not to. It would help a little, hurt a little less, if I knew why"; Lucy responded by reflecting George's words to him: "Because - you're the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. Well, I don't mean exactly that, but you will go on asking questions! You wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and you want to wrap me up. That's why I'm breaking off my engagement"; Cecil noted her newfound "force" or power who was speaking with a "new voice"; she tried to dissuade him from thinking she loved someone else: "If you think I love someone else, you're very much mistaken...If a girl breaks off her engagement, everyone thinks: 'Oh, she has someone else. She hopes to get someone else.' It's disgusting, brutal!"; he apologized: "Forgive me if I say stupid things. My brain has gone to pieces"; he was completely demoralized but thanked her: "I must actually thank you for what you've done. For showing me what I really am. I admire your courage. Will you shake hands?"
  • completely defeated and alone, Cecil sat in the hallway to put on his shoes
  • Lucy made plans to get away and escape to Athens, Greece with the spinster sisters to escape town gossip: ("I must go somewhere, anywhere. I must get away, far, before it's known...That I've broken off my engagement"), and then possibly go to London to live independently and find work; after his dismissal, George (still in love with Lucy) had made plans to move his father back to London; both George and his father did not know that Lucy had broken her engagement until Mr. Emerson was told by Charlotte - and he was delighted with the news
  • when Lucy discovered the rented cottage was being vacated, she accidentally met up with Mr. Emerson (who was warming himself in Rev. Beebe's library); she spoke to him about her relationship with George; the father blamed himself for the way George had impulsively acted in Italy: "Because I told him to trust to love. I told him, 'George, love and do what you will.' It's what I taught him...He only tried when he should not have tried"
  • and then when Mr. Emerson heard that Lucy was planning a trip to Greece, he realized she was only running away from her feelings for George: ("Forgive me, my dear, but it seems to me that you're in a muddle. It seems to me that the reason you're going to Greece, yes, the reason you've broken off the engagement - yes, Miss Bartlett told me - is that you love George. Look, all the light's gone out of your pretty face. Just like it's gone out of George. I can't bear it, and now I've made you cry. Dear girl, forgive me"); he continued: ("There's only one thing impossible. That's to love and to part....You love George. You love the boy body and soul, as he loves you"); she concurred: "But of course I do. What did you all think?" - and implicitly agreed she had deceived everyone and herself
Mr. Emerson's Realization of Lucy's Love For George
  • in the concluding sequence, Lucy had written Charlotte about her elopement to Florence - and the voice-over described how newlyweds Lucy and her new beau George were honeymooning at the Italian pensione where they first met; at the communal dinner table, Lucy overheard a young girl (Kitty Aldridge) (with her chaperone (Matyelok Gibbs)) complaining just as Lucy had months earlier: "We were promised rooms with a view....It's so unfair! Don't you agree that on one's first visit to Florence, one must have a room with a view?"; George replied simply: "We have a view"
  • the two honeymooners were residing in their "room with a view" overlooking Florence's chiming Duomo, and kissing each other at the open window; they spoke the film's final lines:
    - Kiss me again. Again.
    - I'm reading.
    - Again. What are you reading?
    - It's from Freddy.
    - What does he say?
    - Silly boy. He thinks he's being dignified. I mean, everybody knew we were going away in the spring.

(l to r): Lucy Honeychurch and Aunt Charlotte

(r to l): Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) with Son George

George Emerson (Julian Sands)

George's Introspective Pre-occupation

Rev. Mr. Beebe (Simon Callow)

Lucy Witnessing a Bloody Murder in Italy

After Fainting, Lucy Was Saved by George Emerson

George's "Creed" Shouted From A Tree

Charlotte Witnessing Lucy's Kiss in Field

(l to r): Freddy Honeychurch and Mrs. Honeychurch

Cecil's Marriage Proposal to Lucy in Garden

Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis)

Officially, Newly-Engaged Couple

Their First Very Botched Kiss

After a Game of Tennis, Cecil Reading Aloud From Miss Lavish's Novel About Italy

George's Second Impulsive Kiss with Lucy

Lucy's Confrontation with Charlotte About Her Blabbing to Miss Lavish

George's Protestation of Love for Lucy

Break-Up with Cecil

Cecil Upset

In Florence: "We have a view"

Ending: Kisses in the "Room With a View"


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