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cinemaspeak59

Berkeley Square (1933)

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Berkeley Square (1933) is a sublime pre-code that holds up remarkably well.  Leslie Howard plays an American who takes possession of a bequeathed estate in London’s Berkeley Square quarter.  While at the house, Howard magically connects to the past, and makes the stunning discovery that time happens all at once.  (A topic explored by Christopher Nolan in 2014’s Interstellar).

A thunder storm serves as the device that transports Howard from 1933 back to 1784, and in the same Berkeley Square house he would one day inherit.  Posing as the recently-arrived American cousin his hosts were expecting, Howard frightens those in his presence by the ability to predict the future, and by his odd phrases.  They think he's the devil.  But Heather Angel’s character, the sister of the woman Howard was slated to marry, sees the truth.  

Berkeley Square has a lovely staginess to it, and the air of a drawing room comedy of manners, with sumptuous period costumes. (The film is based on a play by the same name). Howard and Angel capture the loneliness and despair of lovers trapped in different worlds.  Historical figures like the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Georgina the Duchess of Devonshire make appearances.

There's a scene in which Angel stares into Howard's eyes, and sees the future: the great Industrial Revolution, with automobiles, trains, airplanes, electricity, tall buildings. She also sees war and destruction.  And rather than being in awe of the modern world, she's horrified that God would condemn mankind to such a monstrous future.  It's quite prescient. If someone back in 1933 could have had a peak into the future they, like Heather Angel's character, would probably look past the digital gadgets and be horrified, too.

Death and the passage of time blanket the picture. Not all is gloom and doom, however.  For Leslie Howard and Heather Angel’s characters, love is spiritual and, hopefully, will live forever.

 

 

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1 minute ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

Berkeley Square (1933) is a sublime pre-code that holds up remarkably well.  Leslie Howard plays an American who takes possession of a bequeathed estate in London’s Berkeley Square quarter.  While at the house, Howard magically connects to the past, and makes the stunning discovery that time happens all at once.  (A topic explored by Christopher Nolan in 2014’s Interstellar).

A thunder storm serves as the device that transports Howard from 1933 back to 1784, and in the same Berkeley Square house he would one day inherit.  Posing as the recently-arrived American cousin his hosts were expecting, Howard frightens those in his presence by the ability to predict the future, and by his odd phrases.  They think he's the devil.  But Heather Angel’s character, the sister of the woman Howard was slated to marry, sees the truth.  

Berkeley Square has a lovely staginess to it, and the air of a drawing room comedy of manners, with sumptuous period costumes. (The film is based on a play by the same name). Howard and Angel capture the loneliness and despair of lovers trapped in different worlds.  Historical figures like the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Georgina the Duchess of Devonshire make appearances.

There's a scene in which Angel stares into Howard's eyes, and sees the future: the great Industrial Revolution, with automobiles, trains, airplanes, electricity, tall buildings. She also sees war and destruction.  And rather than being in awe of the modern world, she's horrified that God would condemn mankind to such a monstrous future.  It's quite prescient. If someone back in 1933 could have had a peak into the future they, like Heather Angel's character, would probably look past the digital gadgets and be horrified, too.

Death and the passage of time blanket the picture. Not all is gloom and doom, however.  For Leslie Howard and Heather Angel’s characters, love is spiritual and, hopefully, will live forever.

 

 

I'm a big fan of Berkeley Square but then I love all things Leslie Howard.

 

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