However, I watched the movie mostly for Rupert Graves (Sherlock), whom I almost didn't recognize with that mop of dark, curly hair (see below). Rupert Graves is one of those amazing actors who has been working non-stop for over three decades (yes, he did start working at 15) in film, television, and theatre (plus he's got a wife and five kids: when does he sleep?).
Maurice is based on E.M. Forster's book by the same title. The story of a gay relationship in early 20th century England, the manuscript bears Forster's note "Publishable but worth it?" on the cover page.
He didn't. It was published after his death in 1971.
Maurice is based on a real-life couple that Forster knew: Edward Carpenter and his working-class lover George Merrill. They lived together from 1898 to 1928. There is a lesson in here somewhere about the oddities of English attitudes towards unorthodox behavior, specifically the reason why one is better served living in the country, writing intellectual tracts than acting like Oscar Wilde and bringing libel suits one is bound to lose.
Mellors is the reason I was skeptical about Alec Scudder.
I am not a fan of Lady Chatterley's Lover which I consider entirely too full of itself--as is Mellors. I've never seen any of the films (merely read, ya know, the book), despite rather adoring Sean Bean. Mellors is the quintessential reverse-snob, strolling about the countryside pontificating (or gruffly allowing others to pontificate) about getting back to nature, the power of connecting to the earth, the meaning of being one with the countryside
|Sean Bean as Mellors|
Let's face it: E.M. Forster, for whose writing I do not greatly care, is yet a better writer than Lawrence. Maurice, which is not considered his best work, is far more subtle and droll than anything that Lawrence could have ever hope for. (This is not, by the way, the "correct" academic attitude to have--one is currently supposed to consider Lawrence the superior writer.)
The appeal of film Alec Scudder is partly the original writing but mostly Graves, who endows this bold young man with unrepentant insouciance and a kind of youthful desperation. He brings to Alec the same out-of-bounds
|In Room with a View, the scene where|
|naked Freddy and his mother start|
|arguing is one of the funniest.|
Rather than being the "instructive" master of the universe who "learns" his lover in the ways of physical lovemaking, Graves' Alec Scudder is as invested in the relationship as his lover--and massively more confused. James Wilby--who was much better cast as Maurice than Julian Sands, the first contender for the role (see James Fox)--manages to convey early on in the London meeting that he recognizes Alec's belligerence for what it truly is: not blackmail but the outrage of a young man at loose ends.
And he recognizes it because he endured the same emotional upheaval. His age and class give him cache, not instant superiority.
|"Don't tell me your name--I want to remember--"|
Forster seems to have liked people more than Lawrence (Furbank's seminal biography on Forster backs this up: Forster perceived friendships as the purpose of life and worked hard at maintaining them). Despite being the usual Forster victims of society's class system, all the characters in Maurice are totally ordinary and mostly nice, even the lecturing ones. I cannot imagine anyone in a Lawrence work saying, "Did you ever dream you had a friend, someone to last your whole life?"
And, quite honestly, there are no dead babies. So I consider this one of the more successful Forster-films.