This era (the 1990s, not the 1870s, mind you), happens to be one of my favorite. Other similar films to come out then that I extremely admire are Merchant and Ivory’s Howards End and The Remains of the Day, though these two are set in England. Like The Age of Innocence, these films also examine social manners between rich and poor, and have forbidden romances. Not to digress too much, but I think Anthony Hopkins gives his best performance ever, maybe one of the best in cinema history, in The Remains of the Day.
Scorsese came to the Museum Thursday night to do a brief introduction to the film. There was not a Q&A after the screening, but he eloquently reflected on his film, and what inspired him to make it. He said this picture goes a long way back. He has always been enthralled by films that are set in the past, usually the 19th Century. He’s enthralled by these characters that live in such a different world. Their thoughts, their emotions, all their conflicts. It was very immediate to him in and odd way. This connection of people in the past sheds humanity. It was a major desire of his to make a film that he wouldn’t call it a genre, but a period piece. Although he joked that everything he’s made is a period piece.