Skip to comments.Filmmaker Ismail Merchant Dies
Posted on 05/25/2005 11:21:16 AM PDT by Borges
LONDON - Filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who with partner James Ivory became synonymous with classy costume drama in films such as "A Room With A View" and "Howards End," died Wednesday. He was 68.
Merchant died surrounded by family and friends at a hospital in London, Merchant Ivory Productions said.
Merchant, who was born in Bombay but spent most of his life in the West, had been unwell for some time and recently underwent surgery for abdominal ulcers, according to Indian television reports.
Merchant and Ivory, an American, made some 40 films together and won six Oscars since forming their famous partnership in 1961 with German-born screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Their hits especially E.M. Forster adaptations like "A Room With a View" and "Howards End" helped revive the public's taste for well-made, emotionally literate period drama.
In an interview with The Associated Press last year, Merchant said Merchant-Ivory films worked because they captured great stories.
"It should be a good story speak about a time and place that is permanent," he said. "It should capture something wonderful with some great characters whether it's set in the past or in the future."
Merchant generally served as producer, the business mind behind the collaboration, while Ivory directed.
Merchant first traveled to the United States in 1958 to study for a business degree at New York University.
He met Ivory in a New York City coffee shop in 1961. Their first film together, "The Householder," was based on a novel by Prawer Jhabvala, and its 1963 premiere was held at the residence of then-U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith.
"When we first began, Ruth told us she had never written a screenplay," Merchant told AP. "That was not a problem since I had never produced a feature film and Jim had never directed one."
Merchant and Ivory departed in recent years from the flawlessly appointed period films for which they were famous.
They offered their take on French farce in 2003 with "Le Divorce," starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.
They also were at work on "The Goddess," a musical about the Hindu goddess Shakti, starring a singing, dancing Tina Turner. Also to be released is "The White Countess," a period drama set in China and starring Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson.
Even though he passed you can still rent his movies if your lookinf for a way to fsll asleep.
I have a feeling this thread will be filled with such epithets. :-) do you like Forster? I've never read him but am told that their films missed his spirit by a country mile.
I'm sorry to hear of his passing. I loved the Merchant-Ivory movies. May God comfort his family in their grief.
My favorite is "The Europeans", most of which was filmed nearby in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. Not boring, but respectful of the pace of the times, and rather poignant.
(Some of their other films ARE boring, especially the ones with "stars".)
Now NOBODY will hire Jeremy Irons.
Where the films were also... soooooooooooooooo gayyyyyyyyyyyyy????
And, what pray tell is wrong with that???? LOL!
It did indeed. To watch his movies was like reading a good novel. He tried not to pick away the details that make up a novel and sometimes bog down a movie.
They were not exactly 'dude' flicks. Well done Sir. R.I.P.
Forster is part of a literary posse whose sole aim in writing, it seems, was to bore me silly. Other members include Henry James, Pearl Buck, and George Eliot.
Now you gotta understand, I read a lot. I read all the time. I adore reading . . . but it has to have a point. About half my collection is history, and the other half is fiction and literature.
I have books that I've had since I was a child, and that I re-read periodically, because the story is just damn good ("Peter Pan and Wendy" is one; "The Lord of the Rings" would be another). I've also found books - for example, "White Oleanders" and "She's Come Undone," both Oprah picks - that I couldn't drop fast enough.
Those particular two incensed me. I'm still mad I wasted time reading them under the false pretenses that they were worth a damn, and I want my five hours back.
A film I was fearful never would.
Let me guess: did he and Ivory also make "The Remains of the Day"?
Yet another movie in which periods of intense boredom were occasionally interrupted by idiotic dialogue.
"Remains of the Day" was indeed another Merchant-Ivory gem.
George Eliot is a severly acquired taste. She was the first to internalize action though.
I really liked HOWARD'S END. Emma Thompson was just gorgeous in that flick!