The Golden Bowl (film)
The Golden Bowl is a 2000 American/British/French drama film
Drama film
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...

 directed by James Ivory
James Ivory (director)
James Francis Ivory is an American film director, best known for the results of his long collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions, which included both Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala...

. The screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, CBE is a Booker prize-winning novelist, short story writer, and two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter. She is perhaps best known for her long collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions, made up of director James Ivory and the late producer Ismail Merchant...

 is based on the 1904 novel of the same title
The Golden Bowl
The Golden Bowl is a 1904 novel by Henry James. Set in England, this complex, intense study of marriage and adultery completes what some critics have called the "major phase" of James' career...

 by Henry James
Henry James
Henry James, OM was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a clergyman, and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James....

, who considered the work his masterpiece.


Dignified but impoverished aristocrat Prince Amerigo, whose illustrious Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 family occupies the decaying Palazzo Ugolini in Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, is engaged to socialite Maggie Verver. She shares an extremely close relationship with her millionaire father Adam, a retired widowed tycoon living in England who intends to finance the construction of a museum to house his invaluable collection of art and antiquities in an American city.

Prior to their engagement, and unbeknownst to his fiancée, Amerigo had a long and passionate affair with Charlotte Stant, who attended school with Maggie. The two separated because of his lack of funds, but Charlotte is still in love with him. When she receives an invitation to the wedding, she seizes the opportunity to reunite with him.

A few days before the ceremony, Amerigo and Charlotte wander into an antique store in search of a wedding gift from her to the couple. Proprietor A.R. Jarvis shows them an ancient bowl, carved from a single piece of crystal and embroidered with gold, he asserts is flawless. Charlotte is indecisive about buying it, and Jarvis offers to set it aside until she can make up her mind.

Despite knowing Amerigo and Charlotte's history, Maggie's meddlesome Aunt Fanny suggests the young woman and Adam would be a perfect match. The two eventually wed, much to the delight of Maggie, who had been concerned about her father's loneliness. The two couples find their lives closely interlocked, although the fact Maggie and Adam spend so much time together irritates their spouses, and when they find themselves at a weekend party in the country without their mates, Charlotte and Amerigo rekindle their affair. Fanny becomes aware of the illicit romance but, wanting to protect her niece from being hurt, says nothing. As time passes, however, Maggie becomes suspicious of the amount of time her husband and stepmother spend together.

In search of an unusual gift for her father, who seemingly has everything, Maggie chances to wander into Jarvis' shop, and he shows her the bowl he had set aside for Charlotte years ago. Maggie agrees to buy it for £300 and asks that it be delivered to her home. When Jarvis discovers a barely discernible crack in the piece, he decides to bring it to Maggie himself, reveal the defect, and offer it to her for £150 instead. While waiting for her in the drawing room, he recognizes Amerigo and Charlotte in photographs on a table, and he innocently reveals they were the couple who originally considered purchasing the bowl, three days before the wedding, which Maggie always has believed was the first time her husband and friend met. The object suddenly becomes a symbol of adultery rather than a beautiful work of art, and Fanny intentionally drops it on the floor, hoping her niece will dispose of the pieces. But Maggie is not willing to forget what it represents, and as everyone avoids publicly discussing what each one of them privately knows, two marriages find themselves in possible jeopardy.


Director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala previously collaborated on screen adaptations of the Henry James novels The Europeans
The Europeans (film)
The Europeans is a 1979 Merchant Ivory Film, directed by James Ivory, produced by Ismail Merchant, and with an adapted screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It is based upon the novel, The Europeans, by Henry James. It was entered into the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.-Cast:*Lee Remick - Eugenia...

and The Bostonians
The Bostonians (film)
The Bostonians is a 1984 Merchant Ivory film based on Henry James's novel of the same name. The film stars Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Madeleine Potter and Jessica Tandy. The movie received respectable reviews and showings at arthouse theaters in New York, London and other cities...


The film was shot at various locations throughout England, including Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle is a stately home in the English county of Leicestershire, overlooking the Vale of Belvoir . It is a Grade I listed building....

 in Leicestershire
Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. It takes its name from the heavily populated City of Leicester, traditionally its administrative centre, although the City of Leicester unitary authority is today administered separately from the rest of Leicestershire...

, Burghley House
Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house near the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England...

 in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, Helmingham Hall
Helmingham Hall
Helmingham Hall is a moated manor house in Helmingham, Suffolk, England. It was begun by John Tollemache in 1480 and has been owned by the Tollemache family ever since. The house is built around a courtyard in typical late medieval/Tudor style....

 in Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

, the Kew Bridge Steam Museum
Kew Bridge Steam Museum
Kew Bridge Steam Museum houses a museum of water supply and a collection of water pumping steam engines. The museum is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage...

 and Syon House
Syon House
Syon House, with its 200-acre park, is situated in west London, England. It belongs to the Duke of Northumberland and is now his family's London residence...

 in Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

, and Lancaster House
Lancaster House
Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London. It is close to St. James's Palace and much of the site was once part of the palace complex...

 and Mansion House
Mansion House, London
Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London in London, England. It is used for some of the City of London's official functions, including an annual dinner, hosted by the Lord Mayor, at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer customarily gives a speech – his...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Italian locations included Palazzo Borghese
Palazzo Borghese
Palazzo Borghese is a palace in Rome, Italy, the main seat of the Borghese family in. It was nicknamed il Cembalo due to its unusual trazezoidal groundplan; its shortest front faces the River Tiber...

 in Artena
Artena is a village and comune in the province of Rome, Italy. It is situated in the northwest of Monti Lepini, in the upper valley of the Sacco River...

 and Prince Massimo's Castle in Arsoli
Arsoli is a town and comune in the province of Rome, central Italy.The fair held on St. Bartholomew's Day at Arsoli is one of the oldest attested fairs of the region.-History:Arsoli was mentioned first in AD 997....


The soundtrack
A soundtrack can be recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book, television program or video game; a commercially released soundtrack album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film or TV show; or the physical area of a film that contains the...

 includes "Moonstruck" by Lionel Monckton
Lionel Monckton
Lionel John Alexander Monckton was an English writer and composer of musical theatre. He was Britain's most popular musical theatre composer of the early years of the 20th century.-Early life:...

 and Ivan Caryll
Ivan Caryll
Félix Marie Henri Tilkin , better known by his pen name Ivan Caryll, was a Belgian composer of operettas and Edwardian musical comedies in the English language...

, "Sarabande"
by Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, and "Wall Street Rag" by Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later dubbed "The King of Ragtime". During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas...


The film premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival
2000 Cannes Film Festival
The 2000 Cannes Film Festival started on May 14 and ran until May 25. The Palme d'Or went to the Danish film Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Trier.-Jury:* Luc Besson, President * Jonathan Demme * Nicole Garcia...

, and when it received a cool reception, executives at Miramax Films
Miramax Films
Miramax Films is an American entertainment company known for distributing independent and foreign films. For its first 14 years the company was privately owned by its founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein...

, the original distributor, asked Ivory and Merchant to make several cuts to shorten its running time. When they refused, the company sold the film to Lions Gate.

The film opened throughout Europe before going into limited release in the US on 27 April 2001, following an earlier showing at the Palm Springs International Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival is a film festival held in Palm Springs, California. It was started in 1989 and is held annually in January...

. It opened on five screens and earned $90,170 on its opening weekend. At its widest release in the US it played in 117 theatres. It eventually grossed $3,050,532 in the US and $2,703,146 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $5,753,678.


  • Kate Beckinsale
    Kate Beckinsale
    Kathryn Bailey "Kate" Beckinsale is an English actress. After some minor television roles, she made her film debut in Much Ado About Nothing while still a student at Oxford University...

     ..... Maggie Verver
  • Nick Nolte
    Nick Nolte
    Nicholas King "Nick" Nolte is an American actor whose career has spanned over five decades, peaking in the 1990s when his commercial success made him one of the most popular celebrities of that decade.-Early life:...

     ..... Adam Verver
  • Uma Thurman
    Uma Thurman
    Uma Karuna Thurman is an American actress and model. She has performed in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies. Among her best-known roles are those in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill...

     ..... Charlotte Stant
  • Jeremy Northam
    Jeremy Northam
    Jeremy Philip Northam is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Ivor Novello in the 2001 film Gosford Park, as Dean Martin in the 2002 television movie Martin and Lewis, and as Thomas More on the Showtime series The Tudors...

     ..... Prince Amerigo
  • Anjelica Huston
    Anjelica Huston
    Anjelica Huston is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985's Prizzi's Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in...

     ..... Fanny Assingham
  • James Fox
    James Fox
    James Fox, OBE is an English actor.-Early life:James Fox was born in London, England to theatrical agent Robin Fox and actress Angela Worthington. He is the brother of actor Edward Fox and film producer Robert Fox. The actress Emilia Fox is his niece and the actor Laurence Fox is his son. His...

     ..... Colonel Bob Assingham
  • Madeleine Potter
    Madeleine Potter
    Madeleine Potter is an American actress who has played supporting roles in over twenty films and TV shows, including four productions directed by James Ivory. She has also appeared in numerous stage productions in the United States and United Kingdom...

     ..... Lady Castledean
  • Nicholas Day ..... Lord Castledean
  • Peter Eyre
    Peter Eyre
    Peter Eyre is an American actor.Eyre was born in New York City, New York, the son of Dorothy Pelline and Edward Joseph Eyre, a banker. He was sent to a public school in England at the age of twelve, and has been based in the country ever since. Although offered a place at the Royal Academy of...

     ..... A.R. Jarvis

Critical reception

The New York Times observed, "In translating the novel into a film, the producer Ismail Merchant, his directing partner, James Ivory, and their favorite screenwriter, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, have made a movie that's an ambitious, profoundly ambiguous statement about their own passion for the cultivated, high-culture sensibility epitomized by James and E.M. Forster, as opposed to the cruder mass culture that has eclipsed these literary heroes . . . Much of the dialogue in Ms. Jhabvala's carefully wrought screenplay voices feelings that remain unspoken in the novel, and this is the movie's biggest problem. No matter how well the characters' thoughts have been translated into speech, the act of compressing their rich, complex inner lives into dialogue without resorting to voice-over narration inevitably tends to cheapen them and turn a drama about the revelation of hidden truths into the terser, more commonplace language of an intelligent soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...


Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 of the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

observed, "I admired this movie. It kept me at arm's length, but that is where I am supposed to be; the characters are after all at arm's length from each other, and the tragedy of the story is implied but never spoken aloud. It will help, I think, to be familiar with the novel, or to make a leap of sympathy with the characters."

Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

called the film "impeccably mounted, nicely scored and beautifully written" and noted, "Charlotte wasn't the principal character in James' 1904 novel . . . but in the film version . . . she takes center stage. Played by the long-necked Uma Thurman, she's less vixen than ninny - a smooth operator whose maneuvers seem to issue not from shrewdness or intelligence but from a microchip that allows her to robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

ically spout her lines with careful inflection. It's a blunder of a performance, and makes the viewer wish that Ivory had cast a more accomplished actress - Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet
Kate Elizabeth Winslet is an English actress and occasional singer. She has received multiple awards and nominations. She was the youngest person to accrue six Academy Award nominations, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Reader...

, perhaps, or Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
Catherine Élise "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress. She came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 biopic film Elizabeth, for which she won British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe Awards, and earned her first Academy Award...

 - who could give dimension to the character and indicate subtext in a way that Thurman can't."

Mike Clark of USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

rated the film two out of four stars and commented, "Too many dialogue exchanges sound like actors reading lines, and even the film's better performers seem to be acting in a vacuum. The movie establishes good will (or even great will) in the initial scenes because it's so gorgeous, but the rest is such a slog that even the revealed significance of the title artifact elicits a shrug."

Emanuel Levy of Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

called the film "vastly uneven, with some wonderful period touches but also more than a few tedious moments," "tasteful, diffident and decorous," and "a deliberately paced literary film that takes too long to build narrative momentum and explore its central dramatic conflicts." He added, "James' deft portrait of human frailty and his experimentation in narrative mode only intermittently find vivid expression in the work of Ivory and screenwriter Prawer Jhabvala. Everything in the film, particularly in the last reel, is spelled out in an explicit, literal manner . . . Production values, particularly Andrew Sanders' design and John Bright's costumes, are exquisite, but they decorate a film that's too slow and only sporadically involving."

Awards and nominations

James Ivory was nominated for the Palme d'Or
Palme d'Or
The Palme d'Or is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and is presented to the director of the best feature film of the official competition. It was introduced in 1955 by the organising committee. From 1939 to 1954, the highest prize was the Grand Prix du Festival International du...

 at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival
2000 Cannes Film Festival
The 2000 Cannes Film Festival started on May 14 and ran until May 25. The Palme d'Or went to the Danish film Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Trier.-Jury:* Luc Besson, President * Jonathan Demme * Nicole Garcia...

. Production designer
Production designer
In film and television, a production designer is the person responsible for the overall look of a filmed event such as films, TV programs, music videos or adverts. Production designers have one of the key creative roles in the creation of motion pictures and television. Working directly with the...

 Andrew Sanders won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical/Artistic Achievement.

DVD release

The Region 1 DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

 was released on 6 November 2001. The film is in anamorphic widescreen
Anamorphic widescreen
Anamorphic widescreen, when applied to DVD manufacture, is a video process that horizontally squeezes a widescreen image so that it can be stored in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio DVD image frame. Compatible playback equipment can then re-expand the horizontal dimension to show the original widescreen...

 format, with audio tracks in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and subtitles in English and Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

. The only bonus feature is the original theatrical trailer.

External links

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