The Wings of the Dove


1h 43m 1997

Brief Synopsis

An impoverished noblewoman matches her lover with a dying heiress.

Film Details

Also Known As
Duvans vingslag, Wings of the Dove
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX
Location
Kensington Gardens, London, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom; Venice, Italy; Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom; Royal Naval College, London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Synopsis

When Kate falls in love with a common journalist, she faces an impossible choice: either marry the man she loves, or give him up to take her rightful place in society. The struggle between her head and her heart is the conflict between 19th century values and 20th century passions. Their highly charged love affair is forbidden and discreet until the arrival of a young American heiress nursing her own tragic secret, who offers them a tempting solution that will lead all three into a world of dizzying possibility and unexpected consequence.

Crew

David Abbott

Carpenter

Simon Alderton

Other

Steve Allaway

Carpenter

Tony Allaway

Carpenter

Joseph Alley

Carpenter

Alba Alzetta

Costume Department

Marco Alzetta

Grip

David Ambrosi

Unit Manager

Hossein Amini

Screenplay

Riccardo Andreotti

Other

Alessandro Anselmi

Carpenter

Tariq Anwar

Editor

Lee Apsey

Carpenter

Jan Archibald

Hairdresser

Barry Arnold

Props

Stephanie Avery

Production Assistant

Werner Bacciu

Grip

Nicola Ball

Costumes

Ornella Baraldo

Assistant Art Director

Kerry Barden

Casting

Sean Barett

Other

Sean Barrett

Other

Liz Barron

Other

John Beard

Production Designer

Roy Beck

Stand-In

Bill Beenham

Other

Ernie Bell

Other

John Bell

Original Music

Lorenzo Bellini

Craft Service

Regis Benedettelli

Grip

Erica Bensly

Production Coordinator

Becky Bentham

Music Supervisor

Frank Berlin

Other

Cristiana Bertini

Makeup Assistant

Tony Bird

Transportation Manager

Stefano Biscaro

Key Grip

David Bittner

Production

Klaus Bittner

Production

Paul Bittner

Production

Alessandro Bolognesi

Steadicam Operator

Paula Boram

Foley Artist

Laura Borzelli

Makeup Assistant

John Botton

Props

Fabio Bozzetti

Production Assistant

Nicola Bradbury

Special Thanks To

Roy Branch

Best Boy

Giacomo Brasolin

Production

Rob Brock

Electrician

Anthony Brookman

Wardrobe

Andy Brown

Music

Geoff R. Brown

Foley

Warren Browne

Carpenter

Nicola Bruso

Grip

Lee Bryant

Props

Peter Bryant

Propman

David Bubb

Carpenter

Anita Burger

Hairdresser

Tony Burns

Electrician

Cecilia Burrows

Costume Department

Ben Burt

Production Assistant

Nick Butler

Special Thanks To

Stefano Calcaterra

Propman

Denis Carrigan

Special Thanks To

Luca Casagrande

Electrician

Steve Casey

Electrician

Andrea Castellan

Other

Donata Cecconi

Production Assistant

Anthony Challenor

Carpenter

Steve Challis

Other

Raymond Chan

Assistant Art Director

Claire Christie

Costume Department

Clair Chrysler

Stand-In

Bill Clare

Driver

Cleone Clarke

Assistant

Jane Clarke

Storyboard Artist

David Coley

Carpenter

Ed Colyer

Foley Mixer

Franco Contini

Art Department

Marc Cooper

Line Producer

Jay Coquillon

Assistant Editor

Steve Costello

Gaffer

John Cowell

Other

Mike Crawley

Driver

David Creed

Carpenter

Luca Critofoli

Costume Department

Chris Crome

Special Thanks To

Maria Grazia Dabala

Other

Tommaso Dabala

Electrician

Daniel Dacciu

Electrician

Natasha Dack-ojumu

Driver

Stuart Davidson

Production

Danny Delaney

Production

Jeremiah Delaney

Production

Dominique Delanges

Location Manager

Mario Depoli

Other

Zena Dickenson

Special Thanks To

Cyril Dickman

Advisor

Gary Dormer

Other

Howard Doubtfire

Driver

Ann Marie Doyle

Special Thanks To

Peter Duffey

Carpenter

Valerie Dyer

Other

Graham Easton

Special Thanks To

Belinda Edwards

Props Buyer

David Edwards

Carpenter

Phil Edwards

Driver

Terry English

Driver

Martin Evans

Sound Editor

Stephen Evans

Producer

Andrea Faini

Art Director

Eddie Farrell

Carpenter

Paul Feldsher

Executive Producer

John Ferguson

Other

Francesca Fezzi

Assistant Art Director

Joan Field

Stand-In

Lee Field

Stand-In

Stan Fiferman

Foley Editor

Steve Finn

Sound

Garry Fisher

Carpenter

Daniela Foa

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Carlo Forcellini

Craft Service

Paolo Fortunati

Production

Rob Fowle

Camera

Mike Fraser

Other

Vic Fraser

Other

Paolo Frasson

Grip

Elisabetta Frazuoli

Other

Gary Freeman

Other

Jeanette Freeman

Hairdresser

Cristiano Galzerano

Costume Department

John Gamble

Other

Dario Gardi

Gaffer

John Geary

Other

Anna Maria Genvise

Costume Department

Karl George

Other

Italo Gerardi

Production

Sergio Ghetti

Assistant Director

Cristiano Giavedoni

Electrician

Barry Gibbs

Property Master

Jane Gibson

Consultant

Donna Gigliotti

Special Thanks To

Frank Gill

Carpenter

Andrew Gleboff

Camera Trainee

Alvise Grandese

Art Department

Maurizio Graziosi

Cashier

Liz Green

Associate Editor

Gordon Greenaway

Assistant Sound Editor

Dee Gregson

Assistant Location Manager

Alan Grenham

Other

Warren Grenham

Other

Matt Grimes

Sound Editor

Peter Grove

Carpenter

Michelle Guish

Casting

Tim Handley

Music Editor

Bill Hargreaves

Props

Janette Haslem

Costume Department

Jenny Hawkins

Costumes

David Haynes

Other

Arthur Healy

Other

Kevin Hedges

Carpenter

Guy Heeley

Assistant Director

Robin Heinson

Other

Frank Henry

Carpenter

Andy Hopkins

Other

Billy Hopkins

Casting

Stuart Hopps

Choreographer

Linda Howarth

Special Thanks To

Bill Howe

Other

Dean Humphries

Rerecording

Marino Ingrassia

Production

Andrea Isaac

Assistant Sound Editor

Yvonne Jackson-french

Costume Department

Henry James

Source Material (From Novel)

Sallie Jaye

Makeup Artist

Katya Jezzard

Assistant Editor

Martyn John

Art Director

Bryce Johnstone

Carpenter

David Jones

Production

Eddy Joseph

Audio Consultant

Debbie Kaye

Other

Ermanno Kerstich

Craft Service

Phil Knight

Driver

Sam Kruger

Sound

Marilena La Ferrara

Other

Luca Lacchin

Assistant Director

Marilena Laferrara

Other

Doug Langston

Driver

Bradley Larner

Other

Roberto Laurenzi

Construction Manager

Daniel Laurie

Assistant Sound Editor

John Leeson

Special Thanks To

Charles Lester

Costume Department

Dominic Lester

Rerecording

Patricia Lester

Costume Department

Emanuele Leurini

Video Assist/Playback

Peter Lewis

Costume Department

Peter Lindsay

Sound Recordist

Iain Lowe

Other

Nick Lowe

Sound Editor

Ron Lowe

Driver

Film Details

Also Known As
Duvans vingslag, Wings of the Dove
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX
Location
Kensington Gardens, London, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom; Venice, Italy; Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom; Royal Naval College, London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1997
Helena Bonham Carter

Best Adapted Screenplay

1997

Best Cinematography

1997

Best Costume Design

1997

Articles

The Wings of the Dove


Henry James is more celebrated for the felicities of his syntax than the vividness of his imagery, but quite a few filmmakers have translated his novels and stories to the screen, sometimes with excellent results. One of the best periods for James adaptations began in 1996, when Jane Campion directed The Portrait of a Lady with a stunning cast led by Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich; it continued in 1997 with Agnieszka Holland's stylish version of Washington Square; and ended in 2000, when James Ivory and Ismail Merchant took on the huge challenge of The Golden Bowl and almost pulled it off.

The best of the lot was The Wings of the Dove (1997), directed by British filmmaker Iain Softley, whose previous pictures were the high-spirited Backbeat (1994), about the early years of the Beatles, and Hackers (1995), a forgettable thriller about a teenage computer whiz. Where he found the inspiration for his eloquent James adaptation is anybody's guess, but find it he did. The results are dazzling in every department, from the sumptuous cinematography to the smart, sensitive acting by an expertly chosen cast. Even the movie's un-James-like candor about sex seems a reasonable accommodation to contemporary tastes, and Softley found justification for it in James's own subtexts. "His works have a dark eroticism which is quite suppressed," the director said when the film premiered.

James wrote in the preface to The Wings of the Dove that he originally planned it as the story of "a sick young woman" whose "disintegration" would be carefully detailed. If that sounds melodramatic, James may have been overcompensating for the disastrous failure of his playwriting career, which had ended when he was literally hooted off the stage after a premiere; but he was perfectly serious about the novel, which was partly based on the illness and death of his cousin Minny Temple many years earlier. By the time the book was published in 1902 he had integrated the experiences of fatally ill Millie Theale with those of several other strong characters, including Kate Croy, the novel's most memorable figure.

Kate is an attractive young Englishwoman from a very dysfunctional family – her mother is dead, her father is an opium-addicted stoner, and her protective Aunt Maude is a wealthy dowager whose mission in life is to make sure Kate marries into big money. This means not marrying Merton Densher, the dashing journalist Kate is seeing on the sly; if Merton stays in the picture, Aunt Maude icily insists, Kate and her dope-smoking dad will be cut off without a penny. Bowing to reality, Kate bids Merton a reluctant farewell and builds a new friendship with Millie, a visiting American heiress who's known as "the world's richest orphan" in the kinds of newspapers Merton writes for.

Then things turn down an unexpected path: Millie meets Merton at a party and falls in love on the spot, and Kate starts noticing clues that Millie's health is a great deal worse than she's allowing the world to believe. Although she isn't a died-in-the-wool schemer, Kate suddenly sees a way out of her dilemma, if she can be clever and crafty enough to make it work. First she'll encourage Millie and Merton to have an affair and get married; then she'll wait for Millie's impending death; and then she'll finally marry Merton, who'll be rich enough to support her in style and make Aunt Maude happy. She sets her plot in motion, letting Merton into the secret while the three of them are in Venice on a pleasure trip. The rest of the story follows with relentless logic, reaching a conclusion that's both dramatically and morally surprising.

Roger Ebert wrote in his review that the film's basic plot would be at home on daytime television – "Sold her lover to a dying rich girl" – but that the movie brings it alive by viewing the characters in the context of their era's strict moral standards, and by revealing the moral ambiguity of their situations even more generously than the novel does. Millie may be a victim in one sense, for instance, but she's desperate to experience love before she dies, and she sees Merton as the man of her dreams; and Kate might have cheered for their romance even if no fortune were at stake, since she's extremely fond of Millie and recognizes the deep-down loneliness that's tarnishing her last months of life. In the movie as in reality, motives are usually mixed and results are never as clear-cut as they may seem. As the story nears its end, Millie discovers the depressing truth about Merton that's been hidden from her, but even then, as Ebert puts it, she can "be grateful that she got to play the game."

The Wings of the Dove was filmed in a wide variety of English locations, from Kensington Gardens to the Old Royal Naval College, as well as the Shepperton Studios and – most stunningly – in the crowded canals, cobbled roadways, and matchless buildings of Venice, filmed by Eduardo Serra with an unsentimental intelligence that suits the subject to perfection. The same is true of the screenplay by Hossein Amini, whose only previous theatrical screenplay was an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's sardonic Jude the Obscure, made into the lackluster Jude by Michael Winterbottom in 1996. Amini manages to condense 500 pages of nuanced Jamesian prose into less than two hours of well-crafted dialogue and articulate actions, rarely hitting a false or artificial note, although it's unclear why he and Softley updated the story to around 1910, some years after the period laid out in the novel. Perhaps they felt the approach of World War I would lend subliminal resonance to the psychology of the tale; or perhaps they simply wanted to start the movie on a London subway train, a likely place for Kate and Merton to make mischievous eyes at each other in full view of uncomprehending strangers.

Like other first-rate James movies, The Wings of the Dove benefits from marvelous casting. Young though she was, Helena Bonham Carter had already excelled in such Merchant Ivory beauties as A Room with a View (1985) and Howards End (1992), where she refined the skill of maintaining emotional truth while wearing costumes and speaking in rhythms borrowed from bygone times. Alison Elliott and Linus Roache are ideal choices for Millie and Merton, and the secondary players include such solid talents as Michael Gambon as the dissolute dad, Charlotte Rampling as the avaricious aunt, and Elizabeth McGovern as Millie's traveling companion and confidante. The picture earned Academy Award nominations for Bonham Carter, cinematographer Serra, screenwriter Amini, and costume designer Sandy Powell, all of them well deserved. Literary films don't come much better, and I suspect old Henry James himself would have been pleased.

Producers: Stephen Evans, David Parfitt
Director: Iain Softley
Screenplay: Hossein Amini, based on the novel by Henry James
Cinematographer: Eduardo Serra
Film Editing: Tariq Anwar
Art Direction: John Beard
Music: Edward Shearmur
With: Helena Bonham Carter (Kate Croy), Linus Roache (Merton Densher), Alison Elliott (Millie Theale), Elizabeth McGovern (Susan Stringham), Michael Gambon (Lionel Croy), Charlotte Rampling (Aunt Maude), Alex Jennings (Lord Mark), Georgio Serafini (Eugenio).
C-102m. Letterboxed.

by David Sterritt
The Wings Of The Dove

The Wings of the Dove

Henry James is more celebrated for the felicities of his syntax than the vividness of his imagery, but quite a few filmmakers have translated his novels and stories to the screen, sometimes with excellent results. One of the best periods for James adaptations began in 1996, when Jane Campion directed The Portrait of a Lady with a stunning cast led by Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich; it continued in 1997 with Agnieszka Holland's stylish version of Washington Square; and ended in 2000, when James Ivory and Ismail Merchant took on the huge challenge of The Golden Bowl and almost pulled it off. The best of the lot was The Wings of the Dove (1997), directed by British filmmaker Iain Softley, whose previous pictures were the high-spirited Backbeat (1994), about the early years of the Beatles, and Hackers (1995), a forgettable thriller about a teenage computer whiz. Where he found the inspiration for his eloquent James adaptation is anybody's guess, but find it he did. The results are dazzling in every department, from the sumptuous cinematography to the smart, sensitive acting by an expertly chosen cast. Even the movie's un-James-like candor about sex seems a reasonable accommodation to contemporary tastes, and Softley found justification for it in James's own subtexts. "His works have a dark eroticism which is quite suppressed," the director said when the film premiered. James wrote in the preface to The Wings of the Dove that he originally planned it as the story of "a sick young woman" whose "disintegration" would be carefully detailed. If that sounds melodramatic, James may have been overcompensating for the disastrous failure of his playwriting career, which had ended when he was literally hooted off the stage after a premiere; but he was perfectly serious about the novel, which was partly based on the illness and death of his cousin Minny Temple many years earlier. By the time the book was published in 1902 he had integrated the experiences of fatally ill Millie Theale with those of several other strong characters, including Kate Croy, the novel's most memorable figure. Kate is an attractive young Englishwoman from a very dysfunctional family – her mother is dead, her father is an opium-addicted stoner, and her protective Aunt Maude is a wealthy dowager whose mission in life is to make sure Kate marries into big money. This means not marrying Merton Densher, the dashing journalist Kate is seeing on the sly; if Merton stays in the picture, Aunt Maude icily insists, Kate and her dope-smoking dad will be cut off without a penny. Bowing to reality, Kate bids Merton a reluctant farewell and builds a new friendship with Millie, a visiting American heiress who's known as "the world's richest orphan" in the kinds of newspapers Merton writes for. Then things turn down an unexpected path: Millie meets Merton at a party and falls in love on the spot, and Kate starts noticing clues that Millie's health is a great deal worse than she's allowing the world to believe. Although she isn't a died-in-the-wool schemer, Kate suddenly sees a way out of her dilemma, if she can be clever and crafty enough to make it work. First she'll encourage Millie and Merton to have an affair and get married; then she'll wait for Millie's impending death; and then she'll finally marry Merton, who'll be rich enough to support her in style and make Aunt Maude happy. She sets her plot in motion, letting Merton into the secret while the three of them are in Venice on a pleasure trip. The rest of the story follows with relentless logic, reaching a conclusion that's both dramatically and morally surprising. Roger Ebert wrote in his review that the film's basic plot would be at home on daytime television – "Sold her lover to a dying rich girl" – but that the movie brings it alive by viewing the characters in the context of their era's strict moral standards, and by revealing the moral ambiguity of their situations even more generously than the novel does. Millie may be a victim in one sense, for instance, but she's desperate to experience love before she dies, and she sees Merton as the man of her dreams; and Kate might have cheered for their romance even if no fortune were at stake, since she's extremely fond of Millie and recognizes the deep-down loneliness that's tarnishing her last months of life. In the movie as in reality, motives are usually mixed and results are never as clear-cut as they may seem. As the story nears its end, Millie discovers the depressing truth about Merton that's been hidden from her, but even then, as Ebert puts it, she can "be grateful that she got to play the game." The Wings of the Dove was filmed in a wide variety of English locations, from Kensington Gardens to the Old Royal Naval College, as well as the Shepperton Studios and – most stunningly – in the crowded canals, cobbled roadways, and matchless buildings of Venice, filmed by Eduardo Serra with an unsentimental intelligence that suits the subject to perfection. The same is true of the screenplay by Hossein Amini, whose only previous theatrical screenplay was an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's sardonic Jude the Obscure, made into the lackluster Jude by Michael Winterbottom in 1996. Amini manages to condense 500 pages of nuanced Jamesian prose into less than two hours of well-crafted dialogue and articulate actions, rarely hitting a false or artificial note, although it's unclear why he and Softley updated the story to around 1910, some years after the period laid out in the novel. Perhaps they felt the approach of World War I would lend subliminal resonance to the psychology of the tale; or perhaps they simply wanted to start the movie on a London subway train, a likely place for Kate and Merton to make mischievous eyes at each other in full view of uncomprehending strangers. Like other first-rate James movies, The Wings of the Dove benefits from marvelous casting. Young though she was, Helena Bonham Carter had already excelled in such Merchant Ivory beauties as A Room with a View (1985) and Howards End (1992), where she refined the skill of maintaining emotional truth while wearing costumes and speaking in rhythms borrowed from bygone times. Alison Elliott and Linus Roache are ideal choices for Millie and Merton, and the secondary players include such solid talents as Michael Gambon as the dissolute dad, Charlotte Rampling as the avaricious aunt, and Elizabeth McGovern as Millie's traveling companion and confidante. The picture earned Academy Award nominations for Bonham Carter, cinematographer Serra, screenwriter Amini, and costume designer Sandy Powell, all of them well deserved. Literary films don't come much better, and I suspect old Henry James himself would have been pleased. Producers: Stephen Evans, David Parfitt Director: Iain Softley Screenplay: Hossein Amini, based on the novel by Henry James Cinematographer: Eduardo Serra Film Editing: Tariq Anwar Art Direction: John Beard Music: Edward Shearmur With: Helena Bonham Carter (Kate Croy), Linus Roache (Merton Densher), Alison Elliott (Millie Theale), Elizabeth McGovern (Susan Stringham), Michael Gambon (Lionel Croy), Charlotte Rampling (Aunt Maude), Alex Jennings (Lord Mark), Georgio Serafini (Eugenio). C-102m. Letterboxed. by David Sterritt

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 1997 Award for Best Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) from the Boston Film Critics Association.

Winner of the 1997 award for Best Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Winner of the 1997 award for Best Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) from the National Board of Review.

Expanded Release in United States November 14, 1997

Expanded Release in United States November 21, 1997

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States Fall November 7, 1997

Released in United States February 1998

Released in United States November 1997

Released in United States October 1997

Released in United States on Video June 16, 1998

Released in United States September 1997

Shown at American Film Festival (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.

Shown at Birmingham International Film & Television Festival in the United Kingdom November 19-30, 1997.

Shown at Chicago International Film Festival October 9-19, 1997.

Shown at Denver International Film Festival (Opening Night) October 23-30 1997.

Shown at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (Closing Night) October 27 - November 16, 1997.

Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Closing Night) October 15-19, 1997.

Shown at London Film Festival (Gala) November 6-23, 1997.

Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival (Closing Night) October 2-12, 1997.

Shown at Oslo Film Days in Oslo, Norway February 6-12, 1998.

Shown at Tokyo International Film Festival (British Film Festival) October 31 - November 8, 1998.

Shown at Toronto International Film Festival September 4-13, 1997.

Shown at Venice International Film Festival (British Renaissance) August 27 - September 6, 1997.

Hossein Amini was nominated for the 1997 award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published by the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

Henry James' novel was previously filmed as "Les Ailes de la Colombe/The Wings of the Dove" (France/Italy/1981), directed by Benoit Jacquot and starring Isabelle Huppert and Dominique Sanda.

Began shooting May 28, 1996.

Completed shooting August 17, 1996.

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (Closing Night) October 27 - November 16, 1997.)

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Venice International Film Festival (British Renaissance) August 27 - September 6, 1997.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at American Film Festival (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Tokyo International Film Festival (British Film Festival) October 31 - November 8, 1998.)

Released in United States February 1998 (Shown at Oslo Film Days in Oslo, Norway February 6-12, 1998.)

Released in United States on Video June 16, 1998

Released in United States September 1997 (Shown at Toronto International Film Festival September 4-13, 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (Special Presentation) October 23-30, 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at Chicago International Film Festival October 9-19, 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at Denver International Film Festival (Opening Night) October 23-30 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Closing Night) October 15-19, 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival (Closing Night) October 2-12, 1997.)

Released in United States November 1997 (Shown at Birmingham International Film & Television Festival in the United Kingdom November 19-30, 1997.)

Released in United States November 1997 (Shown at London Film Festival (Gala) November 6-23, 1997.)

Released in United States Fall November 7, 1997

Expanded Release in United States November 14, 1997

Expanded Release in United States November 21, 1997